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José Andrés Will Attend the State of the Union Address. Here’s What He Hopes He’ll Hear.

Photo of José Andrés by Evy Mages

José Andrés served over 10,000 meals for furloughed federal workers during the government shutdown. Now, the well-known chef (and vocal critic of President Trump) plans to join Nancy Pelosi as her guest during Tuesday night’s of the Union address. As he heads into the speech, Andrés says he’s looking forward to chatting with other members of Congress and their guests. “It’s an honor. I know this doesn’t happen often, this is my second time but I think those are important times,” he says.

That’s right, this is Andrés’s second time at a big Trump speech: He attended Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress back in 2017 as a guest of US Representative Filemon Vela, a Democrat from Texas. At the time, Andrés was still in the midst of a legal fight (since settled) with Trump after he backed out of opening a restaurant in the Trump International Hotel.

A senior Trump administration official told reporters during a planning meeting last Friday that the theme for Tuesday’s speech would underscore bipartisanship. “We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds,” Trump’s slated to say according to remarks in a flyer that was circulated to GOP supporters. Andrés hopes Trump delivers on that promise. “I hope that tonight we hear a speech of unity, inclusion,” he says. “Not a speech of exclusion.”

Andrés will attend tonight’s event alongside Planned Parenthood’s new president, Leana Wen. “We go there on behalf of everyone else,” he says. “I feel like I’m there on behalf of the workers left without a job, who didn’t receive a check for over a month. On behalf of the 11 million who are waiting to be a part of the American dream, on behalf of the Dreamers, on behalf of those children who are separated from their parents without any logical explanation.”

“In the end, I’m there on behalf of many Americans who are hoping their leaders will do just that, lead them.”

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Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.