Top Chef contestant Lee Anne Wong's Hawaii restaurant burned down in the Maui fires sweeping the state, but the reality star has put her culinary skills to good use as the region tries to recover.
Days after Wong lost her Papa'aina restaurant at Old Lahaina's historic, 122-year-old Pioneer Inn, she teamed up with dozens of local chefs, volunteers, and culinary students at the University of Hawaii Maui College to prepare up to 10,000 meals a day for local victims and shelters using regional ingredients and donated products.
University of Hawaii Maui College’s commercial kitchen is usually busy with culinary arts classes but it is now being used to prepare thousands of meals for local Maui shelters. @whitjohnson has more. #GMAMauiStrong
HOW TO HELP: https://t.co/pLSeQ1Uk1W pic.twitter.com/WaryVuIh6A
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 17, 2023
"The staff, our hotel guests, all evacuated safely. Our pet parrot made it as well. But, yeah, I didn't really have time to stop and take a beat," the Bravo alum told Good Morning America on Thursday morning from a kitchen at around 2:45 a.m. local time, as a TV crew documented her efforts to prepare food for Maui residents affected by the deadly fires. "Our community mobilized right away."
Earlier, Wong spoke about the disaster's impact on the area in an emotional Instagram post.
"I haven't had time to stop and process or even grieve the loss of the restaurant and hotel," she wrote. "To be clear, I don't give an F about the restaurant. Buildings can be rebuilt. People cannot be replaced. Our entire staff of the hotel and restaurant are safe and accounted for. I was finally able to sleep last night. 90% of our Pioneer Inn/Papa'aina staff have lost everything in the fire, as most of them lived in town. My lovely family @kokoheadcafe have set up a GoFundMe for our team here in Maui. Every penny counts in helping them survive and get back on their feet. If you can't donate, please share."
ABC 'Top Chef' star Lee Anne Wong at University of Hawaii Maui College
"It's a little overwhelming," Winfrey told the BBC. "I came earlier just to see what people needed, and then went shopping... I actually went to Walmart and Costco and got pillows, shampoo, diapers, sheets, pillowcases."
"These past few days have been very heavy for Kanaka Maoli and Hawaiians all over the world watching our land up in flames. Seeing such destruction and helplessness is nothing compared to being there right now," Sasha wrote on Instagram, linking out to organizations like the Hawaii Community Foundation and Maui Rapid Response. "Trying to figure out how to move forward, but that is exactly what we do. Move forward. We ask for your help. Please keep up to date with the needs of the displaced and suffering with some of the accounts I have tagged."
Momoa also posted an Instagram video documenting the tragedy, writing that he was "devastated and heartbroken" over the developments.
The Maui fires have killed 110 people to date, with the death toll expected to rise in the days ahead.
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