Chef Victor Rojas, a Mexican immigrant and owner of Graham Baker of La Paz Mexican Restaurant, in the kitchen on Feb. 23, 2012 in Frederick, Md. 
Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post/Getty

Bourdain: Trump’s deportation plan would ‘shut down’ every US restaurant

Television travel host and former chef Anthony Bourdain sees a serious problem with Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants: “Every restaurant in America would shut down.”

Bourdain, who discussed the topic on the SiriusXM program “StandUP With Pete Dominick,” called immigrants from Mexico and Central America “the backbone” of the restaurant industry.

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Since announcing his candidacy in June — when he called Mexicans criminals and rapists — Trump has recommended deporting the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. He also said he would build a physical wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, again declaring at Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate that he would make Mexico pay for the wall and include “big, fat beautiful door” for legal immigration.

Bourdain called the plan to build a wall at the border “ridiculous” but added that “serious minds can honestly disagree on what we want to do in the future as far as how tightly we want to control our borders and how many more people we want to let in.”

However, the one-time chef pointed out that Mexican and Central American immigrants are willing to do jobs many Americans with formal culinary training are not.

“Twenty of those years in this business I was an employer, not once, did anyone walk into my restaurant — any American-born kid — walk into my restaurant and say I’d like a job as a night porter or a dishwasher,” he added. “Even a prep cook — few and far between. Just not willing to start at the bottom like that.”

Even when he started out his career as a chef, Bourdain said it was always the immigrants in the kitchen who had been there the longest and “who took the time to show me how it was done.”

He also pointed to the immigrants who provide landscaping and childcare services to affluent communities, and noted that major cities still struggle to find restaurant workers.

As for how restaurant owners would fare if undocumented immigrants weren’t around? “They’d be up the creek,” Bourdain said.