You may know Chef Rush as the man with the huge arms in the white coat that has prepared incredible meals for Presidents, or you may follow him because of his daily routine to do 2,222 pushups in honor of veterans that are no longer with us to increase awareness of suicide prevention. Whether it’s his profession or his passion, both aspects of Andre Rush’s life can be connected to his childhood, and specifically, his mother.

“She was as loving of a person as anyone could be,” he said proudly. “She would take in homeless (people), and we didn’t understand why she was doing that. But she told me that you never know when someone needs you or why, but you can always change demographics.”

Chef Rush said that he grew up as one of nine kids. Some of his siblings were already adults when he was young. His family was very poor while living in the projects. As soon as he could walk, his father put him to work. While that might appear harsh, he considered that a positive.

“I think that is the foundation of my work ethic. My dad was this extremely rough and tough guy. He actually had to drop out of elementary school to help his parents. I admire him so much because even though he couldn’t read very much, he could count to a billion. He was a numbers guy. My dad taught me how to work my butt off, and my mom taught me to love my heart off.”

Chef Rush Isn’t the Only Vet in the Family

Rush isn’t the only child out of those nine with military experience. He also has a brother that served in the Navy, another as a Marine, and a sister that committed to the Air Force. His own career in the United States Army lasted over 20 years. He could’ve moved up the ranks and become an officer, but he actually declined, choosing to remain in service as an enlisted member.

“It was that mindset about having boots on the ground. We all had our duties and our assignments. I think for me, that goes back to where I grew up in Mississippi.”

Even though he’s doing other things in his life, he doesn’t see his commitment to the Armed Forces as being over. He still connects to members of all branches, and will continue to for the rest of his life.

“I still don’t see my career as being finished because I do more in the military now than I did when I served,” he stated proudly. “In the military, to me, there is no retirement. As far as service, I work harder now than I did then. Once I got out, I was able to do a million more things for them.”

Chef Rush Leads One Pushup at a Time

One example of how he works today includes when he recently did a pushup contest at the LA FIt Expo in honor of his brother, the Marine, who passed away due to cancer. Members of other branches of the military, civil service, and other people got involved just because they could see the passion for his commitment when he was there.

“He was a big inspiration to me,” Rush said. “It was an honor to do that for the National Cancer Society, and during Black History Month, we’re going to do another campaign for cancer awareness. It’s all about bringing all branches and people in together.”

Chef Rush is as committed to staying in fit as he has been to making a difference. In his eyes, it isn’t about finding time to work out or get better, it’s about making the time and doing whatever you have to do in order to make it happen. That includes when he travels – which he does a lot when he speaks to groups or businesses.

“I traveled over 600,000 miles last year. I take my ruck sack with me. I go through the airport, and one of the TSA guys picked ip up and said ‘man, that’s heavy.’ I said ‘yeah, that’s my workout. It’s around 50 pounds. I wear that whenever I can, and I also have bands with up to 90 pounds of resistance so I can train arms, shoulders, and back.”

His advice to beginners that may not have the best of everything is to make the best of everything they have.

“Use everything you can to make things possibly work,” he said. There’s only one thing he won’t do or accept.

“I can’t make make excuses. I won’t make excuses for not working out.”

Besides contributing time and energy to making a positive difference in the lives of others, Rush has also been involved in numerous projects. He released a book, and he’s also involved in a TV show with fellow renowned chef Gordon Ramsay – Kitchen Commando.

Cooking in Front of the Cameras

“It’s like Kitchen Nightmares, but with a military focus. Yes, there’s cooking involved, but I also show them it’s about community as well. It’s all about giving back,” Rush said. Kitchen Commando is planned to premiere during Super Bowl Weekend. Check your local listings for station and times.

Another role that Rush takes pride in is as a mentor. He may not be directly connecting to thousands of people on a regular basis, but each time he meets someone, he wants them to move forward with something that can help them in the future. Whether it’s guidance, encouragement, or even something as small as a smile to brighten their day.

“Yes, we’re tired, we may be sore after a long day, but keep smiling. It makes a difference, and it can keep you going.”

Chef Rush offers that same guidance and encouragement to young people that may be looking for their own paths as well as the right way to improve their own health and wellness. That includes not settling for less than their best because they deserve to be and achieve their best.

“Know your worth and value. Also, don’t take anything for granted. My dad told me every day, ‘Dre, someone wants you to fail. It may even be someone smiling to your face.’ You need to go out and do your best.’ Don’t complain. Don’t make excuses. Learn everything you can learn and do everything you can. I was a black man trying to become a chef, and it wasn’t nice. I got taunted a lot. I say listen to yourself and follow that path that you want to do. Take risks and chances. That’s how I got into this position I am in now.”

Follow Chef Rush on Instagram @realchefrush.