Celebrity chef José Andrés, whose Spanish market is housed within billionaire Stephen Ross’s Hudson Yards development, is publicly asking Ross — his landlord — to cancel an upcoming fundraiser for President Donald Trump.
Yesterday Twitter erupted with people encouraging others to #CancelEquinox when Ross, whose real estate company owns the luxury gym, announced he’d be fundraising for Trump. But Ross owns a lot more than Equinox and its sister gym SoulCycle, including all of Hudson Yards, home to several new restaurants like Andrés’s Mercado Little Spain. In a video posted to Twitter, Andrés pleads Ross to drop the fundraiser, saying the real estate developer is a “good man” and supports “good causes,” then encouraging him to “do the right thing.”
“I do believe that if you are Republican or Democratic the vast majority of Americans believe that we have no space for hate,” Andrés says. “We have no space for breaking Americans apart when the beginnings of our country are based on three words, ‘We The People,’ and we the people means, unfortunately, not supporting anything that has to do with the reelection of Donald Trump.”
I respect a person’s right to politically support who he chooses but these are not normal times!. So I ask u Steve Ross to use your conscience! Cancel this fundraiser for @realDonaldTrump You are a good man.Don’t support a candidate whose goal is to drive my beloved USA apart! pic.twitter.com/mTMhCZsmzl— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) August 8, 2019
But Ross issued a statement to several media outlets defending his actions, saying he’s always been “an active participant in the democratic process” and that he “will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address ... challenges.”
“While some prefer to sit outside of the process and criticize, I prefer to engage directly and support the things I deeply care about,” he says. “I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.”
Andrés opened Mercado Little Spain at Ross’s Hudson Yards mega-development earlier this year, though he’s not the only chef with ties to the billionaire. Ross also has a stake in David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants, Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar chain, Australian cafe Bluestone Lane, and fast-casual chain &Pizza — not to mention all the restaurants that pay him rent at Hudson Yards and Time Warner Center.
Eater has reached out to the restaurants Ross has invested in for comment. Most have remained quiet, but Tosi issued a statement saying Milk Bar is “in no way affiliated” with the fundraiser and like SoulCycle and Equinox, glossed over the fact that Ross is one of many investors in her company — “all of whom come from different perspectives.”
“I do not personally support the policies of the current administration,” her statement reads. “However, I also don’t mandate what people who work at my company believe politically. We support people having their own opinion.”
Ross-owned SoulCycle and Equinox also issued statements on Twitter saying they have nothing to do with the event and don’t support it. And Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills — Ross owns the Miami football team — also fired back on Twitter, pointing out that the billionaire can’t claim to support “equality” in sports, as his nonprofit Rise claims it aims to do, while also supporting Trump.
Yet the black lash continues on Twitter, with people pointing out that regardless if these companies are backing the fundraiser or not, in the end, their profits are landing in Ross’s pockets — which are directly fueling Trump’s.
Correction: August 8, 2019, 12:08 p.m. This article has been updated to reflect that RSE Ventures’s investment in Beyond Sushi fell through following the chain’s Shark Tank appearance, and Ross is not an investor in the company.
Update: August 8, 2019, 2:13 p.m. This article has been updated to reflect a statement from Christina Tosi.