In a delectable turn, chef José Andrés bests Trump after lengthy feud

Some say revenge is a dish best served cold. Andrés prefers serving it with small plates and craft cocktails

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published February 10, 2023 12:00PM (EST)

Chef Jose Andres and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Chef Jose Andres and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Some say revenge is a dish best served cold, but in the case of humanitarian and chef José Andrés, it seems he prefers to serve it alongside curated small plates and craft cocktails. This week, Andrés officially announced a new location of his restaurant, The Bazaar, in D.C.'s famed Old Post Office building. 

According to Andrés this has been a dream of his for 30 years — one that was almost thwarted by former president Donald Trump

Andrés had originally planned to open a restaurant in the Old Post Office in 2015. This was right after Trump had acquired the rights to the building, and just as his campaign for his ultimate presidency was starting to heat up. According to the Washington Post, the $7 million restaurant would have been called Topo Atrio and would have been a part of the Trump Organization's $200 million development of the building into the Trump International Hotel. 

Quickly, Trump and Andrés publicly clashed after the former's campaign trail comments about Mexican immigrants.

"When do we beat Mexico at the border? They're laughing at us, at our stupidity," Trump said in his campaign launch speech. "When Mexico sends its people they're not sending their best. They're not sending you; they're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we're getting."

Like many, Andrés took umbrage with Trump's racist remarks. 

"Donald Trump's recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward," Andrés said at the time, according to the DCist. "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."

After Andrés made the decision to pull out of the hotel deal, the Trump Organization filed a $10 million lawsuit against him citing breach of contract; Andrés' company, Think Food Group, countersued for $8 million, claiming that Trump's remarks made it impossible to conduct business as usual. Per NPR, the suit said: 

"The perception that Mr. Trump's statements were anti-Hispanic made it very difficult to recruit appropriate staff for a Hispanic restaurant, to attract the requisite number of Hispanic food patrons for a profitable enterprise, and to raise capital for what was now an extraordinarily risky Spanish restaurant."

After dragging on for nearly two years, the lawsuits were settled out of court in April 2017. The terms weren't disclosed and the only statements made at the time were in the form of a joint release sent by The Trump Organization and Think Food Group. 

"I am glad that we are able to put this matter behind us and move forward as friends," Donald Trump Jr. said in the statement. "Since opening in September 2016, Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. has been an incredible success and our entire team has great respect for the accomplishments of both José and TFG. Without question, this is a 'win-win' for both of our companies."

Andrés wrote in the release that he was "pleased that we were able to resolve our differences and move forward cooperatively, as friends." On Twitter, he took a more subdued tone, writing "Happy to put this chapter behind us, a win-win for both sides and now time to focus on the issues that matter."

However, how good of friends the organizations remained is questionable. As Eater reported that year, Andrés frequently criticized Donald Trump and his presidency on social media. Just two weeks after the settlement was reached, Andrés responded to a news story of a mother of four being deported to Mexico by tweeting at Ivanka Trump

"@IvankaTrump can you please talk to @realDonaldTrump about passing immigration reform,and in the meantime not deporting people like her?tks," he wrote. 

Andrés continued to petition Trump online to support immigration reform and programs like Meals on Wheels, which is designed to deliver meals to individuals who are homebound or can't cook for themselves — but then in August 2018, Trump delivered a speech that caused Andrés to more openly criticize him. 

As Salon's Chauncey DeVega wrote, following the white supremecist riot in Charlottesville, "Trump infamously said that there were 'very fine people' among the neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other domestic terrorists who ran amok, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many other people." Andrés responded to Trump's speech on Twitter by writing: "You are full of s**t, Sir! Nothing wrong with the country. Only thing wrong is you and your lies! To your voters, and to all…" 

Throughout the rest of 2017, Andrés continued to criticize Trump's behavior — especially the White House's lackluster response to the damage caused by Hurricane Maria in  Puerto Rico. As Eater reported, Andrés and his organization World Central Kitchen traveled to Puerto Rico and has provided 3 million meals following Hurricane Maria to date, efforts Andrés says were necessary given the lack of government help. 

Andrés punctuated the events of that year with a simple tweet: "Thank you @realDonaldTrump for showing me everyday that we did the right thing pulling out of your hotel...#smartbusinessdecision." 

Six years later, and just a few months after announcing his intentions to run for president again, Trump sold the lease to the Old Post Office building to a Miami-based investment firm, which in turn partnered with Hilton Hotels, who quickly and quietly removed any Trump signage from the building. 

Instead, they are opening the Waldorf Astoria D.C. — which will also happen to house Andrés' Bazaar. 

According to Food & Wine, the restaurant — which has other locations in Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York — will serve "a carefully curated theater of shared plates" with "ingeniously innovative cuisine" and "thoughtfully created cocktails." 

There is no set open date, but Andrés said on social media that this version of the restaurant prioritizes inclusion through "building longer tables right on Pennsylvania Avenue, in the heart of our nation's capital, welcoming people from across the city and the world."

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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