Chef-turned-humanitarian José Andrés’s many good works has inspired one local maker to put his visage on a prayer candle — and the “José Andrés Saint Candle” sold out in just five hours.
Kelly Carnes, a local PR pro who has her own candle shop on Etsy, whipped up 98 prayer candles printed with a beatific photo of Andrés in his chef coat, created by graphic designer Kodi Seaton. (Celebrity prayer candles have been trending for awhile now). After sharing the page for the $20 candle on her social media accounts, local blog Popville picked it up, and she quickly sold all her stock yesterday. Carnes says she will donate all the profits (about $1,500) to Andrés’s hunger relief organization World Central Kitchen.
“That’s not so bad for a day’s work,” Carnes tells Eater.
Andrés’s work feeding federal workers during 2019’s government shutdown really impressed Carnes. His response to the coronavirus outbreak is what put the idea for the candle in her mind. ThinkFoodGroup turned the chef’s restaurants into community kitchens to provide affordable — and in some cases, free — to-go meals for laid-off workers. WCK has also fed quarantined passengers stuck on cruise ships in Japan and California.
When Carnes read a quote from Andrés saying, “My city will be fed. Our people will be fed,” she floated her idea on social media.
“It was just like the hundredth example of him being a complete and utter saint, putting people’s needs at the forefront,” Carnes says. “I shared the story and said, ‘This guy is amazing, he’s truly a hero. He needs his own saint candle.’ My friends responded, ‘Hey, if you make one, we’ll buy it.’”
Does Andrés know he has his own sainted prayer candle? Carnes says she hasn’t gotten a response from him yet.
“I wouldn’t surprised if word travels back to him, and I hope he knows that we’re all out here, trying to support him and rooting for him and trying to come up with ways that we can support his work while we are at home,” she says.
Not everyone has felt so devoted to Andrés. A bartender at his Mercado Little Spain in New York City’s Hudson Yards development filed a lawsuit last year accusing the Spanish market of underpaying employees. Representatives for ThinkFoodGroup say employees were paid double what they were owed, and other workers who were overpaid were allowed to keep the money.
Carnes had been working on the candle ever since the coronavirus shutdown significantly slowed down both her PR work and her other small business, a costume rental platform called Trove.
“I’m one of those do-ers that will feel better if I’m trying to put my skills to use and help in recovery efforts,” she says.
She’s trying to decide if she’ll do another run of José Andrés candles, but next up, she’s working on another candle. This one will pay homage to director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci and direct funds toward for the CDC Foundation.
Update Monday, March 31, 3:02 p.m. This story was updated to clarify the entity behind Andrés’ community kitchens and to add a statement from ThinkFoodGroup.
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- José Andrés’s Nonprofit Served 11,400 Meals to Furloughed Workers in One Day [E]
- The Story Behind the José Andrés Nonprofit Serving Hurricane Dorian Victims [E]