former Under deck Chef Stew Adrienne Gang, who worked for days at the World Central Kitchen after Hurricane Ian leveled several Florida cities, said what she witnessed made her a changed person.
Gang, who is now a chef, tirelessly contributed to thousands of meals for the community, which was completely destroyed in the wake of the storm. Reflecting on her experience recently, she shared that she is proud of the work she and other chefs have done, especially in the first few days after the storm left so many people without electricity, water and even homes.
But as someone hosting a Under deck podcast, she couldn’t help but compare the devastation she witnessed to some of the grievances and issues seen on Under deck.
She got emotional as she spoke about her experience. “I’m getting suffocated. I’ve never met a group of people who worked so hard just to be able to help other people,” she said of her Gang Plank Report Podcast about the people she has worked with from World Central Kitchen.
“I mean, we got up at 4 a.m. every day and we distributed thousands of meals that went to seven different counties to feed people who needed them. And nobody complained,” she added. “By the end of our work shift, which lasted about 12 hours, everyone was exhausted. Everything I’ve hurt My feet hurt. It was hot because we were working outside with no air conditioning and little ventilation. But nobody was there to complain about it.”
“Well, if I see Under deck, and I see these guys complaining about these little insignificant things, I just want to smack them,” Gang said. “Because you can do so much good. And even though we work in these really adverse conditions, people are still passionately excited to be there. And I’ve never experienced anything like it and I can’t wait for the next time.”
Gang immediately volunteered to help when the hurricane hit. “So after the hurricane, I first volunteered here in Tampa for a few days at World Central Kitchen,” she recalls. “Because they set up a facility here and a friend of mine connected me to them. So I went in as a cook to help them. They asked me to stay a few more days, which I willingly did because everyone I met there was amazing.”
“Then they moved the kitchen downstairs to the Minnesota Twins’ facility, their spring training facility in Fort Myers. And there are shelters there,” she added.
“I’ve gone into sales a couple of times. So I actually met the people who were impacted by the hurricane,” she said. “I wasn’t just in the kitchen all the time. It went through Fort Myers to get to the location, I was actually up in Port Charlotte which was a bit north and they were also hit by the hurricane. And the trees down and the power lines and the houses with their roofs blown off. it was crazy I was so busy that I didn’t have much time to take many photos. But I’m sure by now people have seen a lot of the coverage, stills and video from the bridge.”
Gang said the photos and videos of the devastation don’t do it justice. “We saw things all the time,” she said. “It’s hard to explain what it is unless you’re there or have experienced something like it. But I have to tell you that there were people who approached us because we were serving some of our food from an on-site food truck.”
“The people who came up and the gratitude they had for being able to have a hot meal after not eating. Or hot food for days or showers or something. They were just grateful that people cared enough about being there to support them,” she said, getting emotional.
“And I have nothing but amazing things to say about World Central Kitchen,” Gang said. “The people I have met through this organization are all there because they want to help, because they really care about other people. And most of them are people they’ve never met before or have a connection with, but they inherently understand the value of their work.”
World Central Kitchen locations continue to open as more residents require meal assistance.
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