>> He's the celebrity chef known for his tapas and his beef...with the President, this week on "Firing Line."
He has a two-star Michelin restaurant, and his charity has delivered millions of meals after natural disasters.
José Andrés is also famous for saying things like this.
>> Someone talks about making America great again.
Who are you?
Where you come from?
>> And this.
>> More than 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, and, actually, President Trump, as the leader of America, has, let's say, a lot of blame to take.
>> And this.
>> We should be showing the empathy he doesn't have.
I think it's lost somewhere between his hair and somewhere else.
>> He says food brings people together.
But is he sowing discord with his attacks?
What does José Andrés say now?
>> "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover" is made possible by... Corporate funding is provided by... ...and by... >> Chef José Andrés, welcome to "Firing Line."
>> Thank you for having me.
>> You are the famous chef who is heralded for bringing tapas to America, but you are also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for your work administering food relief to the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017.
You were born in Spain, raised by two nurses.
Did you have any sense when you first came to the United States with $50 in your pocket that you would become a crisis-relief administrator and be a chef of a two-star Michelin restaurant?
>> Coming to America, for me, was a blessing.
I came first time in the Spanish Navy.
And, actually, I arrived Manhattan not too far away from where we are filming this right now.
I think the moment I came under the Verrazzano Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, understanding the meaning of that powerful symbols, I think that moment, I say, "I want to belong to America.
I want to be an American."
I came back like a year and a half later to work as a cook in a restaurant here in New York, and I never looked back.
I always -- I know where I come from.
I love Spain, and I am a proud Spaniard, but I also know where I belong.
I love America.
>> And you are an American citizen now.
>> I am an American citizen with my wife, three American-born daughters in Washington, DC, and for us, again, it's a blessing.
I guess, being an immigrant gives you this kind of amazing perspective.
I believe immigrants like me, we are bridges.
We're not problems.
I do believe immigration, especially for America, that is the country that symbolizes immigration like no other nation in the history of mankind.
Immigration is not a problem for America to solve.
It's an opportunity for America to seize.
And if we see it that way, immigration is something always to be celebrated.
Everything America is today has been an amazing melting pot of centuries of cultures, of people from different parts of the world that made the America we know today.
>> Are you proud to be an American?
>> I'm super-proud to be an American, especially because I think America is a not-so-young country anymore.
Many other countries around the world look for leadership in America, and we know that America has not been a perfect country -- like every other country.
But then, America is a country that keeps getting better and learns from its mistakes, and that's what I love about America.
>> I'd like to talk about your disaster-relief work.
You first became compelled to become involved in disaster-relief work after the tragic 7.0 earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
What was it about seeing that event unfold on television that compelled you to dedicate your efforts to disaster relief?
>> In that moment, I was in the Cayman Islands on vacation and scuba diving with my family.
And, quite frankly, to watch that earthquake doing so much damage to homes and the lives of so many Haitians in Port-au-Prince was this moment that I was like, "Man, I'm so close."
It took me a few weeks, longer than I wanted, but a few weeks later, I landed in Dominican Republic.
I took a car, and I arrived at Port-au-Prince, and what I did was very simple.
I began cooking.
I am a cook.
I have a talent for cooking.
I can feed a few, but I can feed many.
That's a very simple way to solve a very big problem.
>> I've heard you say that something about being a chef makes you uniquely qualified for disaster relief.
>> Well, chefs like me, we work in chaos situations.
Overall, kitchens run very smoothly, but if everybody's changing because dietary restrictions, because a machine breaks, a fryer seems to blow away in the middle of the night, we always adapt.
We manage chaos with a good smile and trying to bring the best of the situation.
>> After the Haiti earthquake, you received a $50,000 grant, which you used to establish World Central Kitchen.
And World Central Kitchen operated for a good seven years before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.
But it was up and running, and you had established yourself as a humanitarian relief organization in crisis.
You were on one of the first commercial flights to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit.
And so you went, and you started cooking.
Now, did you have a sense when you got to Puerto Rico that it would become your largest effort yet?
>> When I landed in Puerto Rico, I was thinking I was coming for 7, 8, 9 days.
Try to help, feed some people, establish a kitchen, and then go.
I never imagined that almost three months later I will be there, nor any more the 20 people who began cooking the first day.
We ended with more than 25,000 volunteers.
We began with one kitchen.
We ended with 26.
At the end, we were almost delivering food in more than 700 distribution points across the island.
At the end, we did almost 4 million meals.
We never thought that we were going to be doing so many things.
What we did, we broke the big problem into a smaller one.
In the process of thinking small but making it happen, we became a very big relief organization.
>> Do you believe that FEMA and the federal government do a good job in crisis moments, like in Puerto Rico?
>> Puerto Rico was the last hurricane in a season that was full of hurricanes.
FEMA was, at one moment, probably overextended.
And Puerto Rico, Maria was just the nail.
I think they arrived late, and their preparation was not as was supposed to be.
Not only FEMA but I would say the local government, the military.
It's many people that participate in this.
So my criticism was not being unprepared as much as adapting to the new situation.
>> Don't misunderstand me.
The men and women of FEMA are amazing.
Their work is beyond duty.
Many of them work 24/7.
Many of them work with tears in their eyes.
But FEMA, one day, is gonna have to realize that they need to change to the new ways.
FEMA should be broke into two.
Should be the FEMA that the word "emergency" means "now, today."
If people are hungry and thirsty, anything that is not about today is not good enough for the American people.
And then, there should be the other FEMA, which is the one that negotiates contracts, the ones that does reconstruction, the one that looks at the long-term rebuilding of the areas they are trying to help.
FEMA needs to be totally broke into two.
>> I think what I hear you saying is, in the crisis relief, in the moment, that FEMA fell short.
>> In Maria, totally.
Other situations, there still is learning curves.
For example, for me, if you have communities that, during the first week, two weeks, are going hungry because nobody's delivering food to them because the electric grid is down, the ATMs are not working, the buses, all the roads are broken.
And all of a sudden, you have communities that they are totally forgotten.
We should be doing in the 21st century, in America, a much better job.
>> Having been on the ground, having seen what worked and what didn't work, and having been part of one of the most successful efforts to directly alleviate hunger, if you had to do it, again -- right?
-- if you could start from a blank slate, how would you organize emergency relief?
>> You're gonna believe it or not, but this is a question, actually, I've not been asked by the people of FEMA.
You activate in key locations the kitchens in the schools.
They already have their cooks, and they already know the local markets and they know how to get the food to make rice and beans.
And next, private sector -- America is a gigantic restaurant.
>> [ Laughing ] >> Activate the private sector, which actually they did a very good job.
Let's find another 50 kitchens from one chain alone that you sign a contract with them, saying, "Can you do, during two, three weeks, X amount of meals in every location?"
Two coordinators' kitchens with the local mayors.
All of a sudden, the local mayors know where they need this.
All of a sudden, we're doing a million meals a day right on the island within a week.
We fell short on that.
In terms of food and water, very simple.
Tomorrow is too late.
We need to be feeding Americans right now.
>> But do you have a view about who can do that best?
The government versus the private sector versus non-profits?
>> We need everybody.
But everybody needs to be coordinated.
But then you are gonna have certain organizations -- >> The government has failed at coordinating that then, haven't they?
>> Has failed at times, or what I would say, they over meet.
If you go to FEMA headquarters, it's like a beehive -- full of people, full of phones.
Between you and me, I think I would put less people in the headquarters and more boots on the ground.
>> Is it possible that, through all of your efforts, you actually helped the Trump presidency because you were able to catalyze emergency relief?
>> President Trump, if I voted or not for him, he's my president.
We all need to be rallying behind the president.
The truth is that the government, yes, let Puerto Rico in these things down.
I don't know if I'm helping the Trump administration, but I don't think about that.
I only think about, "How can I help the American flag and every man and woman under it?"
If we can be bringing food, we'll always be there to feed.
>> What speaks to me, personally, most about your story is that you are marrying individual initiative with your own resourcefulness, regardless of what the government is doing.
And what many people may not know is that that fits in a long tradition of American charitable volunteer-y spirit.
There is a man who was referenced on one of these earlier programs who is my great-grandfather, if you'll allow me the point of privilege, Herbert Hoover, who before he was elected president -- long before -- was an individual, a private citizen, and organized humanitarian food relief in Europe because nobody else was going to bother to feed an entire nation after the Germans occupied it.
This is Belgium in World War I.
And I'd like us to take a listen to William F. Buckley reference Hoover's food-relief efforts on this program in 1982.
Here is a look at that clip.
So, my point in raising this is very simple.
What Hoover did is very much like what you did in Haiti and in Guatemala and in Puerto Rico, in the sense that you saw a void that needed to be filled, and you had a specific expertise that could fill it.
And you just took the initiative and did it.
And what's quite interesting to me about that tradition is that you are renewing that spirit of volunteerism for a new generation of people who genuinely care and want to help but don't know how.
It's my observation that, in times of great crisis, often the government can be hampered by red tape.
And it's individuals like yourself who are able to actually prevent human calamity even better than government.
>> Again, we're one, if you think about it.
We all are responsible for making sure our neighborhoods, our little towns, our cities, our state, our country works.
We can always be finger-pointing to the problems far away, but sometimes the easy solution is looking at yourself.
"What can I do to make sure this doesn't happen anymore?"
We can criticize government, we can criticize all the Republicans, all the Democrats.
All of a sudden you take this "We the people" and the American flag, and you say, "What the heck?
We're all one."
I know that, at the end of the day, when we all sit down at a table and we break bread together after a long day of feeding people, wow -- we become the best of ourselves.
We break bread, and the best of America, in this case, shows up.
The best of humanity shows up.
>> And yet you've been pretty critical of President Trump.
Some of the tweets are really colorful.
You have said... And another one was... How are your tweets different from President Trump's?
>> We have a president that Twitter is his universe.
I do believe that I try to have a message of inclusion, not of exclusion.
My main issue with President Trump is, I am an immigrant.
Immigrants work in the kitchens and in the farms.
Plenty of -- Many generations, all Americans, too.
But what is very unfair is that somehow we are demonizing the meaning of immigrants right now.
And we don't see the mothers and fathers, they are, right now, in the South trying to look to America as a better place.
It's because their children are hungry.
We have undocumented working on our farms.
We have undocumented working in our fisheries, in our restaurants, in our golf courses, in many restaurants, in many fast-food places.
We have undocumented, more than 11 million, making America run.
The big lie is not recognizing that President Trump, in his own properties, have undocumented working.
I understand what the President is trying to do.
I have three daughters.
I don't want anybody crossing into my home or that undocumented people shouldn't be here.
At the same time, our society functions because those 11 million undocumented, plus Dreamers, we need to solve the immigration situation, and what we cannot be is criticizing immigration as a problem when it's actually a great solution and a great opportunity for America to keep moving forward.
>> Let's play a clip from that famous moment when President Trump came down the escalator.
And then he made his announcement speech as a candidate.
>> When Mexico sends us 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.
>> At that time, you were planning to build a restaurant in the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC.
And that speech precipitated your pulling out.
>> Again, I am an immigrant.
I have many Mexicans working -- >> Took it personally.
>> Personally is one part, but I'm also -- He's a businessman, I'm a businessman.
He's a bigger businessman.
Businessmen are usually pragmatic.
I didn't see a speech of pragmatism there.
I didn't see a speech of inclusion there.
And, yes, I was personally thinking like I cannot be doing something under those terms.
After all, I was opening a Spanish restaurant in the Trump hotel.
I spoke to Mr. Trump.
He called me after I let them know that I was a little bit taken aback by those comments.
And after he told me that, you know, everything would be fine and that we were winning, which I responded, "Well, I'm not running on your ticket, so thank you for including me, but I'm calling you specifically about you're talking about immigrants.
Then, when he began with the same rhetoric a few days later, that was a moment that I thought that that probably was not the right place for me to be, because it very much put, somehow, in danger all my beliefs of what America stands for.
When Puerto Rico happened, one night, I was crying because I was kind of hopeless.
I thought, "Man, if I had the restaurant here, the Trump Hotel, would I have a more direct conversation with him, into his ear, and maybe I was never supposed to do what I did.
>> What I hear you saying, though, is that maybe if you'd kept the restaurant, you would have a relationship with him, and maybe if you hadn't been as critical, you would have a way of communicating with him on the back end.
There's a counter example I'm sure you're familiar with.
The band U2 and its lead singer, Bono, who has his own political views about things but cared deeply about the problem of AIDS in Africa, so he worked with President Bush to pass the President's emergency plan for AIDS relief in Africa.
Do you ever wonder whether the criticism of Trump maybe impairs your ability to be a humanitarian at the even larger scale?
>> I don't -- I don't think so.
I think it's not a criticism of President Trump but more like constructive feedback.
You know, all my life, I've worked with Democrats and Republicans alike.
I have friends on both sides.
I have changed views often, and I always believed that the best ones is when you're doing with respect to each other, even when you disagree.
We're living in this kind of moment where respect is somehow sometimes forgotten in the way we approach each other.
>> Is it easier to forget respect on Twitter?
I mean, like when you say, "You're full of blank," about the President.
>> I do believe that the best tweets is the ones that you write and then you put under draft, and then you show your daughters and you ask permission.
>> So you think that there are a couple of tweets you might regret?
>> Yeah, probably a couple, one or two more.
But Twitter makes it sometimes behave like we are youngsters.
But the truth is that, it seems that, especially the last two, three years, when you see Mr. President somehow degrading veterans, insulting women, minorities, African-Americans, Hispanics, calling names to Senators and Congressman that don't think like him, quite frankly, I do believe that I get caught -- we all get caught into this hurricane of putting whatever we think first.
Our president should be a true unifier in chief, a person that brings everybody together, a person that tries to bring the words of every one of us.
Unfortunately, with this president, is what I feel -- I hope he proves me wrong.
>> Do you think he's capable of it?
>> He has a beautiful family that loves him, that embraces him.
I see how my family embraced me and made me the man I am.
So I think he has a good starting point.
But it's never too late.
I'll be the first one saying, "Wow.
Now he's my role model."
But I think he's gonna have to start working quick and hard and fast.
>> You, of course, are not the only person to criticize President Trump.
And there have been a series of incidents in Washington, DC, restaurants where members of the President's cabinet and Republican Senators, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Senator Ted Cruz were heckled and surrounded at local restaurants.
Let's take a look at those incidents.
>> God bless you.
>> God bless you, too!
>> Would you permit that kind of behavior?
>> Me, personally, I wish that things like this doesn't happen.
Obviously, if you have 50 or 100 people that they arrive to a small restaurant, quite frankly, the restaurant is without power to control so many individuals.
You asked me what I would do if I will be in that situation.
Quite frankly, you can never say until you've been in that situation, but I can tell you that Ivanka Trump came to the kitchen we opened to feed federal employees.
>> This is during the federal shutdown where you fed furloughed federal workers.
>> And Ivanka came and was treated with the respect she deserves as a woman, as a person, as a family of President Trump, and as an important adviser to the President in the White House and all the different hats she wears.
And I know that we were very happy she came.
So, something like this I hope will never happen in my restaurants.
I hope I don't have to be in these situations.
In the case of Secretary Nielsen, I want her to go to a restaurant and just enjoy her private life, as she deserves, and she should.
The truth is that there's many people that they disagree with certain things Secretary Nielsen is in charge, like detention of children.
If you are a person that believes in treating other people with respect, what we are seeing in the way we've been treating children, I believe it has no space in America.
So now you ask me, is it fair that she, in this case, is treated that way in that restaurant -- >> Would you serve her in your restaurant?
>> I hope will never happen in any of mine, because I really prefer to have a more easier conversation.
Probably myself, I would tell her in person, "Secretary Nielsen, I understand you are in a very hard situation," because leaders are always in a hard situation, but I wish America would not be embracing what we see right now with children.
So many parts of politics that we all agree and we all disagree.
That's where we all go back to respect.
Listen, I had Senator Lamar Alexander bringing me tomatoes from his home state of Tennessee, and he was so proud to show off amazing tomatoes.
You know, there's plenty of things that -- >> Were they good?
>> They were amazing.
But things I agree with him is like, if you like the tomatoes, make sure that your support of the farm bill includes things that supports those tomatoes in your home state from being successful.
So this is a way -- food, for me, is a way to enjoy them.
Oh, and also, to be able to connect politicians with the real world sometimes through the power of food.
Food connects us in ways that we can't imagine at every single level of who we are.
It is the DNA of who you and I are.
It's the DNA of our society.
So, yes, food can be a great uniter.
And when joining a table, chances are that even if you put people with different points of view, even sometimes to the greatest strength, somehow, a table and a meal brings people closer always together.
That's why I believe the table is a very important place to break bread.
>> Chef José Andrés, thank you for coming to "Firing Line."
>> Thank you very much for having me.
>> "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover" is made possible by... Corporate funding is provided by... ...and by... >> You're watching PBS.