Politics

FEMA Official Calls Anti-Trump Chef José Andrés a Self-Promoter

Government officials are upset with an anti-Donald Trump chef who had a contract to serve meals in Puerto Rico during the hurricane recovery effort, but is now being criticized for being a self-promoter.

José Andrés and President Donald Trump had been in business with one another in the past, but Andrés pulled out, causing Trump to sue.

After Hurricane Maria, Andrés signed two contracts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to serve meals to people in Puerto Rico who were devastated by the Hurricane, Newsweek reports. The contracts, worth $11.5 million, have resulted in 2.2 million meals served.

Andrés, nevertheless, called FEMA's headquarters in Puerto Rico, "the most inefficient place on Earth." FEMA director of disaster operations division Marty Bahamonde was critical of Andrés' comments.

"He was very critical of us publicly and we were disappointed he took that approach," Bahamonde said in an interview with Buzzfeed. "We had a good working relationship, and we paid him a lot of money to do that work. It wasn’t volunteer work — so we were disappointed in some of his public comments."

Another FEMA official said Andrés was "a businessman looking for stuff to promote his business."

FEMA said Andrés' organization, World Central Kitchen, was able to offer hot meals on the island, but said the agency could only offer Andrés short-term emergency contracts for two weeks at a time, not the longer-term contract he wanted because that would have to go through a competitive bid process due to federal procurement laws.

Andrés had denied any accusations of being out to promote his brand, and FEMA spokespeople say their relationship with the famous chef is good.