Vegas restaurateur helping feed earthquake victims in Morocco

Vegas restaurateur helping feed earthquake victims in Morocco
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 9:58 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Morocco continues to reel from a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit one week ago. More than 2,900 people were killed, and more than 300,000 were impacted in some way by the disaster, many in remote areas out the country requiring helicopters and special equipment to reach.

The co-owner of one of the most prestigious restaurants in Downtown Las Vegas is now back in his home country, dropping everything and flying in to help in the aftermath of the disaster. FOX5 spoke to him via Zoom from Marrakech.

“Earthquake obviously took place on Friday evening and the messages started coming in from friends and family in Morocco. Sunday, I had my ticket handled Monday I was on a plane,” Yassine Lyoubi recounted.

Yassine is co-owner of hotspot Barry’s Downtown Prime inside Circa. His passion for the restaurant business began as a teen working at his father’s restaurant in Morocco where he lived until moving to attend UNLV in 1997. Now back in Morocco, he is seeing firsthand the physical and emotional damage of the quake.

“It is very sad. I mean you drive around, and you can see the look on people’s faces,” Yassine shared. Yassine’s family felt the quake two hours away in the capital of Rabat but were not directly impacted, still he felt he needed to be there knowing he could help in his home country’s time of greatest need.

“I reached out to chef Jose Andres who owns a few restaurants in Las Vegas, and I used to work for back at Bazaar Meat over at the SLS and he founded an organization called World Central Kitchen,” Yassine explained. World Central Kitchen has provided 300 million chef-prepared meals in disaster zones around the world.

“Being that I speak the local language as well as French and English fluently, I am able to help with translation… and I was able to join them the minute I hit the ground here,” Yassine reported. Now, culinary teams are going into the mountains to find and feed those most in need.

“We are talking about thousands and thousands of pounds of proteins, carbs, dried goods, that are going up there for us to be able to cook the hot meals,” Yassine added.

Yassine will return home to Vegas Monday. His fiancée is expecting in a little more than a month.

If you would like to help feed earthquake survivors in Morocco, we have a link on how to support world central kitchen, you can learn more here: Donate to World Central Kitchen