How José Andrés Is Backing Immigrants

José Andrés took off his chef coat to make a bold statement

On Saturday night in front of 400 people at a black-tie fundraiser at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, chef José Andrés took off his chef coat, revealing a tee shirt that said "I'm an immigrant," The Miami Herald reports.

The act was part of a speech in which Andrés, who became a U.S. citizen three years ago, said, "We are all immigrants. . . . I believe that the American dream of the 21st century is to be an America of inclusion and not of exclusion."

He went on to say, "I do believe in walls. . . . We need to be building walls to build communities, to build schools, to build hospitals, to build community centers, soup kitchens. To build an America we all believe in."

Given the opportunity to speak as an honoree, Andrés tells Tasting Table that he couldn't not speak up. "I am thinking all the time about questions of immigration in this country, so being given the opportunity to be on stage in front of so many of my peers, I was inspired to talk about being an immigrant, and how we as a nation must move forward on this issue."

Andrew Zimmern, who was in the room during the speech, took to Instagram to show his support for the chef and his speech.

Andrés has been a major supporter of the pro-immigrant movement of the past several weeks. Earlier in the month, the chef closed five of his D.C. restaurants for the Day Without Immigrants protest and helped garner support for the day from chefs across the country.

The chef's fight is not over. At the end of his speech on Saturday, Andrés said, "We can keep moving this amazing country forward." When asked today what will come next he explains: "We are living in such a time of change—new challenges are facing us every week now, so we must always be thoughtful and take action when we think it is necessary. I believe that food can be an agent of change—and now more than ever we need to be making change in the world!" 

This story was updated on Monday, February 27 at 3:30 pm EST.