Maine chef serving Ukrainian refugees in Poland reflects on trip

Yarmouth chef and restaurateur Christian Hayes describes scenes that are both harrowing and heartwarming. For nearly two weeks, Hayes has been preparing meals near Poland’s border with Ukraine. The father of two says what will really stick with him is seeing and serving children in need. “You’re not just looking at an 8-foot wide piaya pan full of soup. You’re handing a little girl a stuffed animal,” Hayes said. “Probably up until now, this is the first time that I’ve been able to reference it without breaking up a little bit. That stuff is going to stick with me for a long time,” Hayes added. Hayes is staying in the border city of Przemysl working with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres. He is cooking along with hundreds of other volunteers from sunup to sundown. “The baby food is what sort of hits you a little bit. It is something that is needed so badly and it is sort of fulfilling to make it,” Hayes said. In Maine, Hayes’ wife Christine is overseeing operations of the restaurants they co-own in Yarmouth, The Garrison and Thoroughfare, as well as their catering company Dandelion Catering. His daughters, ages 10 and 7, wrote letters for him to read each day away. Reluctant to discuss his volunteerism, Hayes wants to raise awareness for the work of World Central Kitchen and, what he calls, a “global effort” to support refugees. “I feel lucky to be here. Part of me feels borderline selfish that people had to pick up the pieces for me to get over here but I am just grateful for everything, at home and here too,” Hayes said. Hayes is encouraging people to donate to WCK. Hayes plans to return to Maine Thursday.

Yarmouth chef and restaurateur Christian Hayes describes scenes that are both harrowing and heartwarming.

For nearly two weeks, Hayes has been preparing meals near Poland’s border with Ukraine.

The father of two says what will really stick with him is seeing and serving children in need.

“You’re not just looking at an 8-foot wide piaya pan full of soup. You’re handing a little girl a stuffed animal,” Hayes said.

“Probably up until now, this is the first time that I’ve been able to reference it without breaking up a little bit. That stuff is going to stick with me for a long time,” Hayes added.

Hayes is staying in the border city of Przemysl working with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres.

He is cooking along with hundreds of other volunteers from sunup to sundown.

“The baby food is what sort of hits you a little bit. It is something that is needed so badly and it is sort of fulfilling to make it,” Hayes said.

In Maine, Hayes’ wife Christine is overseeing operations of the restaurants they co-own in Yarmouth, The Garrison and Thoroughfare, as well as their catering company Dandelion Catering.

His daughters, ages 10 and 7, wrote letters for him to read each day away.

Reluctant to discuss his volunteerism, Hayes wants to raise awareness for the work of World Central Kitchen and, what he calls, a “global effort” to support refugees.

“I feel lucky to be here. Part of me feels borderline selfish that people had to pick up the pieces for me to get over here but I am just grateful for everything, at home and here too,” Hayes said.

Hayes is encouraging people to donate to WCK.

Hayes plans to return to Maine Thursday.

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