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John L. Smith On A Celebrity Chef's Mission To Provide Food In The Wake Of A Disaster

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for The Cove, Paradise Island

Celebrity chef Jose Andres in the Bahamas.

A celebrity chef with restaurants in Las Vegas has become one of the most notable first responders to provide relief in the Bahamas.

Jose Andres, whose restaurants include Jaleo at Cosmopolitan and Bazaar Meats at the newly renamed Sahara, has been providing food in the wake of disasters for years.  

After Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, Andres and his team provided nearly 1.5 million meals to residents of the island.

“He’s really emerged in my mind as a guy - he reminds you every time he’s on that you can be so much more by giving more,” KNPR contributor John L. Smith said.

Smith noted that Andres is "putting a face of caring on the scene," as he's emerged as one of the first first responders after a disaster.

“He’s done an amazing job and it’s a reflection of who he is and what he stands for and it really sets a standard for other celebrity chefs to really contribute more than their great food quality and their personalities to the pop culture,” he said.

Smith also noted the connection Las Vegas has to the Bahamas. A lot of Old Vegas guys had connections to gambling operations on the islands.

“The Las Vegas connection is through construction companies that were Las Vegas-based. Some of them helped build the first casino at Paradise Island,” he said.

He said he would like to see the gaming companies do more to help the areas of the Bahamas devastated by Hurricane Dorian.



When Project Neon, which is the name for the reconstruction and reconfiguration of Interstate 15 and U.S. 95, finished, many people were dismayed to find out that the high-occupancy vehicle lanes were now enforced 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The idea is to encourage people to carpool rather than drive solo, but instead, the change has sparked a lot of anger. 

The Las Vegas City Council, particularly Councilman Stavros Anthony, has been upset about the change. Anthony argues that carpoolers aren't using the lanes that, in reality, families and work crews are using them.

“He makes a good point there. What I didn’t expect was that there would be so much criticism of this all across the country,” Smith said.

Smith said in most places HOV lanes are only enforced during rush hour but Southern Nevada is a bit of outlier. 

Anthony believes the lanes are an attempt at social engineering and if people don't want to use them they shouldn't have to.

“Everyone pays for it but not everyone gets to enjoy it,” Smith said of Anthony's argument, which he believes is a good point.

Supporters of the lanes, however, argue the future of travel is ridesharing and if people don't start carpooling - the road is going to just congested again.

Smith said that's likely true because of the way western cities are built and because the mass transit system needs to be improved.

“Clearly, the expansion was heralded, and the roads are much improved, but I have a feeling we’ll be sitting in traffic again soon,” he said.

In addition, Smith explained there's not a lot a city council can do.

“They don’t have a whole lot of jurisdiction on a state highway or on a federal highway that’s operated by the state,” he said.

John L. Smith, contributor

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.