Both in and out of the military, Andre has has an incredible career, including being a White House Chef, being featured in TMZ and Men’s Health, and producing his own television show. In this interview we talk about being a leader and a follower at the same time, what it’s like to shoot a pilot for a new show, the importance of not jumping on the first opportunity that comes your way, how to juggle a LOT at the same time and more.
Andre Rush is the producer of the upcoming show, "Chef in the City." This unique concept on location cooking show will have Andre take the audience on adventures across the United States, visiting restaurants, first responder units, children's hospitals, local community centers, military bases, and more. He's been featured on TMZ and in Men's Health among other publications, and is both a former Army and a former White House Chef. He does 2,222 push ups a day for suicide awareness 22 Pushup Challenge for the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day.
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Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining me today from Washington, DC is Andre Rush. Andre Rush is the producer of the upcoming show, "Chef in the City." This unique concept on location cooking show will have Andre take the audience on adventures across the United States, visiting restaurants, first responder units, children's hospitals, local community centers, military bases, and more. He's been featured on TMZ and in Men's Health among other publications, and is both a former Army and a former White House Chef. He does 2,222 push ups a day for suicide awareness 22 Pushup Challenge for the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day.
How did you end up as a chef in the Pentagon and White House?
I joined the Army on a whim and didn’t know exactly where it would take me. I loved the camaraderie and brotherhood in the military. Cooking was in my background because my mom and brother showed me how to cook when I was growing up. When I joined the military, it was all about mass cooking, cooking for large groups of people.
One day my Command Sergeant Major saw me doing some things. And he said, ‘Hey I want that guy to come and try out for the team.’ And when he did that, it changed my life. It opened up Pandora’s Box in a good way. It gave me the opportunity to figure out that there was so much more to cooking. I became a pastry chef and studied gastronomy, really anything you can think of.
From there, I went to the Culinary Olympics. I was also nominated to the military culinary arts team. In 1996, I was asked to try out for a chef position in the Pentagon. I got that job and worked for General Sheldon. It ended up being a floodgate of inspiration and creativity in that position. When I was in DC, I also worked with several catering companies so that I could continue learning.
Eventually someone took me to the White House for an interview. They liked me and the rest is history.
What was it like working at the White House?
You would come in and work your butt off. It was important to work as a team. You can be the best chef in the world but if you can’t connect with the other chefs you’re working with, you’re going to be a waste. There’s one mission and everyone has to be working towards it.
The one thing I’ve learned throughout my career is that you need be a leader and a follower at the same time. Sometimes you need to step up and lead other people but sometimes you also need to step back and let others lead.
What was it like cooking for Presidents?
I tell people that what you do as your job should not be discriminatory. If I’m feeding a group of homeless people, I want to give just as much care to that food as I would if I was cooking for a President. So when I was in the White House, I was just focused on giving 100% all the time.
What was your transition out of the military like for you?
I’m a combat veteran and I was medically retired. When I was getting ready to retire, I dug into exactly what I was entitled to as a veteran and different programs that are out there to help veterans. I believe that knowledge is power so I wanted to make sure I was aware of what was out there. Do what you can while you’re still in like submitting any disability claims. It gets harder to submit these things once you’ve left.
There are also so many organizations out there for veterans. So make sure you are aware of these organizations.
Treat every day like it’s your first. Give 100% each and every time. Sometimes, we can get complacent and things kind of get away from us.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to become a chef?
Years ago I trained the son of a Colonel to be a chef. The Colonel eventually became inspired by that and ended up going to culinary school himself after he retired.
Know what you want to do within the foodservice industry. Different schools have different specialties. So if you do decide to make that transition, find out all the information you can beforehand.
Can you tell us about your upcoming show ‘Chef in the City’?
I wanted to give a perspective that highlights chefs and do it in an exciting way. I’m also working on another show that will be similar but be a little bit more adventure focused.
How did this all come about?
A lot of people have come to me with different ideas. I have a book coming out next year as well.
People often want to jump on the first thing that comes to them. But I’ve tried to be a little bit more focused on projects that resonate with me.
How do you manage all that you have going on?
In the military, I often worked more than 100 hours a week without blinking. But working 100 hours a week doing what I’m doing now would be exhausting. However, as military veterans, we’re trained to be resilient and manage stress.
Family is always first. Mental state and nutritional state is also extremely important.
I recommend getting a day planner or something else that will organize everything you have going on. Make sure your family knows that you will be there for them no matter when even if you’re working long hours.
How has your life been impacted by becoming more of a public figure?
In the military, I’ve always done advocacy. And I’ve tried to continue doing that. I’ve always wanted to give back. There have been some wonderful people that have supported me along the way. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a huge veteran supporter and has helped me during my journey. I’m very humbled and blessed with what I’ve been able to accomplish in my life. If I’m being given my ‘5 minutes of fame’ I’m going to use that to touch as many people as possible.
You do 2,222 push-ups every day. Why do you do this?
22 veterans commit suicide every day. So I do 2,222 to support veteran suicides and suicide in the general population as well. Recently, there was an Admiral that committed suicide. You just never know what people are going through.