President Donald Trump’s company and celebrity chef Jose Andrés, locked in an acrimonious, two-year legal battle over the chef’s decision to nix a restaurant in Trump’s D.C. hotel in light of the president’s immigration stance, settled their dispute Friday and said they hope to “move forward as friends.”
“I am pleased that we were able to resolve our differences and move forward cooperatively, as friends,” Andrés wrote in a joint statement with Donald Trump Jr., head of the Trump Organization, who echoed the phrase.
Until now, however, this confrontation has been anything but friendly.
Andrés, who owns 23 restaurants, including Bazaar and the 3 1/2-star (Excellent) Bazaar Mar in the Miami area, pulled out of a planned $7 million restaurant at Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel in 2015 in response to Trump’s talk of building a wall and using the terms rapists and murderers to describe Mexican immigrants. Trump, then a presidential candidate, returned fire with a $10 million lawsuit. Andrés countersued for $8 million.
The tension only grew from there. As Trump turned up what Andrés called an anti-immigrant message, Andrés questioned Trump’s temperament and fitness to be president while speaking to the Miami Herald at a banquet in his honor during February’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
He tore off his chef’s coat amid his speech at the black-tie affair to reveal a black T-shirt with the words he would go on to profess during the crux of his address: “I am an immigrant.”
“The American dream of the 21st century is to be an America of inclusion not of exclusion,” Andrés, a Spanish immigrant who became a U.S. citizen three years ago, told the crowd as he advocated for immigrant protections. “I am an immigrant and a proud American immigrant. Together, we can keep moving this amazing country forward.”
Andrés, who was presented with the National Humanities Medal in 2015 by former President Barack Obama, closed five of his Washington, D.C., restaurants during the “Day Without Immigrants” protest in solidarity with the movement. His stance emboldened others in the food community, including Anthony Bourdain, who introduced Andrés at the South Beach event.
“He is the first chef in the history of the world to be sued by a sitting president. He is my hero,” Bourdain told the crowd.
As late as December, Andrés took to the president’s preferred platform, Twitter, to call for a truce and instead “donate $ to a Veterans NGO to celebrate. Why keep litigating? Let’s both of us win.”
The lawsuits continued, and Trump and Andrés were deposed.
The terms of Friday’s settlement were not disclosed and neither side commented beyond the joint statement between the Trump Organization and Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup.
“I am glad that we are able to put this matter behind us and move forward as friends,” Trump Jr. wrote 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.”