Chef Jose Andres and Donald Trump are kicking up their food fight into high gear.
On Friday, The Trump Organization filed a lawsuit against Jose Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup after the Spanish chef announced plans to back out of a restaurant deal at Donald Trump’s new Washington hotel project following anti-immigration comments the Republican presidential hopeful made on the campaign trail.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is seeking damages of $10 million—plus attorney fees-- and accuses the chef of breach of contract for refusal to open to move forward with the flagship restaurant, reports Politico.
Andres, who withdrew from the deal on July 8, is himself an immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 2013.
“As a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status,” said the chef.
In response to the suit, Andres' ThinkFoodGroup release the following statement, Saturday obtained by WTOP:
“This lawsuit is both unsurprising and without merit. Simply put, Mr. Trump’s comments made ThinkFoodGroup’s participation in this project impossible and constituted a breach which the landlord, Trump Old Post Office LLC, refused to remedy. And despite our attempts to negotiate an amicable resolution, we were ultimately forced to terminate the lease. We had every intention of running a successful business that celebrates and welcomes people and cultures from around the world. The landlord allowed Mr. Trump to saddle us with the burden of his inflammatory statements, such that operating a high-end Spanish restaurant is no longer viable for us at this location.”
Alan Garten, a spokesman for the Trump Organization, vehemently defended the decision to go ahead with the suit, saying that the “comments that Mr. Trump may have made [were] unrelated to this project, unrelated to Mr. Andrés, unrelated to this post office, have nothing to do with anything.”
Yet other food and lifestyle companies have struck out at Trump for his comments. A pizza parlor in Atlantic City, New Jersey, just down the street from Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino, has banned The Donald from eating at the restaurant.
And a Guatemalan-based mezcal company has adopted the anti-Trump slogan, “Donald ers un pendejo. The only thing that should be illegal is mezcal.” The Spanish term “pendejo” translates to “jackass” or “dumbass” in English. According to Eater, the company has has been posting signs depicting its campaign on the streets of Los Angeles, Miami and New York City and has even made t-shirts with the new slogan and will donate any clothing proceeds to NYSYLC, an undocumented youth-led organization.