Just 15 days before taking the oath of office, Donald Trump taped a deposition in a lawsuit against celebrity chef Jose Andres. The lawsuit was filed after Andres’ decision to back out of a deal to open a restaurant at the new Trump Hotel in the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C.
Andres was not happy with the remarks Trump made about Mexican immigrants in 2015, when he first announced that he was running for president. The Spanish-born chef, who became an American citizen in 2013, was supposed to open a Spanish-themed restaurant at the hotel.
“Donald Trump’s recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward with opening a successful Spanish restaurant in Trump International’s upcoming hotel in Washington, D.C.,” the 47-year-old Andres said in a statement to the Washington Post. “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.”
Trump Organization lawyer Allen Garten told NBC Washington that Trump’s deposition only lasted an hour he called it “routine.” ABC News reports that the deposition was taped in Trump Tower in New York.
Here’s a look at the ongoing fight between Andres and Trump, as well as Andres’ career.
1. Andres Signed a 10-Year Lease With Trump, Who Threatened Legal Action Right After He Backed Out
Trump hired Andres to run the flagship restaurant at the Washington D.C. hotel in December 2014. “We’ve tapped one of the very best in the field … to create a restaurant concept that will live up to the unrivaled offerings of what will be one of the finest hotels anywhere in the world,” Trump said in an announcement at the time.
But that chummy relationship changed after Trump’s comments on Mexican immigrants during his speech to announce his candidacy for president in summer 2015. Days after those comments, Andres backed out of a 10-year lease to be the chef behind the D.C. hotel restaurant.
Almost instantly after Andres’ reached his decision, Donald Trump Jr. issued a statement, threatening legal action:
In the event Mr. Andrés defaults in the performance of his obligations, we will not hesitate to take legal action to recover all unpaid rent for the entire 10 year term together with all attorneys’ fees and additional damages we may sustain.
On July 31, The WAshington City Paper confirmed that Trump Old Post Office LLC filed a $10 million lawsuit. In it, Trump’s attorneys questioned the timing.
“Mr. Andrés’ offense is curious in light of the fact that Mr. Trump’s publicly shared views on immigration have remained consistent for many years, and Mr. Trump’s willingness to frankly share his opinions is widely known,” Trump’s attorneys said in the lawsuit.
According to ABC News, Andes’ ThinkFoodGroup filed an $8 million countersuit, claiming that Trump breached their contract by making the negative remarks about immigrants.
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2. Andres Has Tried to Quickly Solve the Dispute by Offering Donations to Charity
In recent weeks, Andres has tried repeatedly to end the dispute with an out-of-court settlement. “Mr. @realDonaldTrump can we end our lawsuits and we donate $ to a Veterans NGO to celebrate? Why keep litigating? Let’s both of us win,” Andres tweeted on December 13. On January 5, before Trump taped his deposition, Andres sent a similar message.
Andres also tried to end the dispute quickly in court, but failed to do so. As Politico reported in July 2016, a year after the suit was filed, Andres’ motion for a summary judgement was rejected in D.C. Superior Court.
“After careful consideration of the record herein, the Court finds that substantial material facts in dispute remain regarding the effect of Mr. Trump’s statements on Defendants’ rights under Sublease,” D.C. Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Di Toro wrote in an order. “As genuine issues of material fact regarding liability remain for trial, the motion for partial summary judgment is denied.”
3. President Obama Honored Andres With the National Humanities Medal During the Trump Feud
While the dispute with Trump continues, President Barack Obama decided to honor Andres with one of the 2015 National Humanities Medals in September 2015. Andres’ citation reads:
For cultivating our palates and shaping our culture. He has introduced new and vibrant ingredients to our Nation, whether through his innovative techniques in the kitchen, his work on clean cooking technology and access to education, or the inspiration he provides to new Americans.
Andres has been an American citizen since 2013 and has several awards to his name. In 2003, the James Beard Foundation named him the Best Chef of the Mid-Atlantic Region of 2003 and Outstanding Chef of 2011. In 2012, he landed on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was also on G!’s 2009 Men of the Year list.
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4. Andres Is the Owner of ThinkFoodGroup, Which Sees Annual Sales of at Least $100 Million
Andres is the owner of ThinkFoodGroup, which he co-founded with Rob Wilder. The company’s CEO is Kimberly Grant, who was previously president of Ruby Tuesday. The company includes 16 restaurants, a food truck and a catering company.
The company earned $100 million in annual sales, as of 2013, according to Restaurant Hospitality. Andres and his restaurants are known for bringing Spanish cuisine to the U.S.
In an interview with GQ, Andres said that, despite his success, he still has things to learn. He’s realized that it’s impossible to learn everything about cuisine.
“I spend my whole life traveling, eating, milking cows, making cheese, fishing, learning every aspect, and I still [know nothing]! The list of places and things I need to visit and do, I mean… how do you catch a squid under the full moon? Because they say those are better than the others,” Andres told GQ. “And I’m like, really? Who says that? But you have to check. You have to find out. It never ends! So finally you move from where you’re from, and then you’re are like, shit, Italians cook too? Even the British [have] cooking? Now the vikings cook, too? Oh and there’s Asia? It’s impossible.”
In total, Andres owns 22 restaurants in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Mexico.
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5. Andres Has Been Cooking in a Professional Kitchen Since He Was 15 Years Old
In an interview with Hola Foodie, Andres said that he never really learned how to cook in a classroom. He’s been living in professional kitchens since he was 15. Even when he served in the Spanish Navy, he was cooking.
“Growing up, I was never really a student of the classroom,” Andres told Hola Foodie. “I was a student of life. I wanted to see the world, and when I was younger, I thought that was through the Navy. My dream was to go on the Juan Sebastian Elcano, and as fate would have it, I got my wish during my time serving Spain. Sailing on that ship was an incredible experience that helped shape the man I am today.”
Andres is best known for making Spanish tapas popular in the U.S. When he arrived int he U.S., he learned that Americans knew very little about Spanish food. That’s changed in his two decades in the U.S.
“People are not just going out to eat Spanish food but trying to make it at home, too!” Andres told Hola Foodie. “There is a huge interest in learning about food, where it comes from, who makes it, and it makes our guests today much more informed and engaged.”
Andres has three children with his wife, Patricia. The couple live in Bethesda, Maryland.
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