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Chef Jose Andres' Speaks (and Wears) His Thoughts on Immigration at SOBEWFF: Exclusive Interview

When it comes to brunch, politics and fried eggs go hand-in-hand for Spanish chef Jose Andres. “I don’t think it’s a political statement. It’s a social statement,” the renowned chef said at a tapas-style Sunday brunch he hosted during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival where he spoke to The Latin Kitchen wearing a black t-shirt that read ‘Immigrants Feed America.’

Related: Chefs and Restaurants Ban Together for #ADayWithoutImmigrants

“Unfortunately some of the leaders of our political world are not guiding the conversation in the right way,” he said. “I am now a proud American, a proud immigrant American. Let’s have a smart conversation. You can say it’s politics, but for me it’s a social and pragmatic conversation about what kind of society we want to have.”

Andres, who has been honored by both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is no stranger to being in the political spotlight. He pulled out of a restaurant deal in D.C.’s Trump Hotel in 2015 when then-candidate Donald Trump made controversial remarks about immigrants. Trump’s lawyers responded with a $10 million civil lawsuit for breach of contract against Andres’ restaurant group, Think Food Group, which countersued for $8 million.

Their suit claimed the move was purely business, since Trump’s comments would make it difficult to recruit staff and attract patrons “for what was now an extraordinarily risky Spanish restaurant.” Andres later followed Trump’s social media lead and took to Twitter in the hopes of reaching a deal, suggesting instead that both parties donate the money to charity.

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