Washington, Jan 17: Despite owning more than a dozen luxury restaurants, Donald Trump is not that interested in food. His culinary tastes are known to range from KFC and taco bowls to well-done steaks.
With just a few days left for Trump's inauguration as President, the culinary world is buzzing about who the President-elect will bring in as White House chef and what it might mean for the food landscape, politico.com reported.
There are some indications that Trump's daughter Ivanka, after taking a leave from her executive positions at the Trump Organisation and her own business, could play a big role in promoting nutrition and cultivating the culinary image of the new administration.
"While there are no specific plans, Ivanka is very passionate about gardening and teaching kids about healthy, seasonal eating," Politico quoted a source close to Ivanka as saying, adding the influential first daughter is coming to Washington with an interest in children's nutrition.
Tom Colicchio, a chef and food policy advocate best known as the lead judge on "Top Chef", noted that Ivanka is personally very interested in healthy eating and gardening.
The Obamas were, by all accounts, foodies. They ate at trendy restaurants like Rose's Luxury in Washington and Nobu in Honolulu when they dined out, which was often. The White House started brewing beer and even keeping bees, it reported. On the policy front, the Obama administration pushed a sweeping healthy eating agenda, banning trans fat and cutting salt and sugar from the American diet. Michelle Obama made tackling childhood obesity her signature issue.
The Obamas' friend and personal chef Sam Kass, became a celebrity in his own right in the food world, promoting farm-to-table and nutrition policies as his role expanded at the White House, from assistant chef to senior policy adviser.
Melania Trump reportedly has a personal chef, as does Trump's daughter, Ivanka, but it's not yet clear if any of the family's staff will jump to the White House. Kass had helped the Obamas eat healthier as a family in Chicago before joining them in the White House.
There has been speculation that Trump might make changes in the White House kitchen, even naming a new executive chef, the post responsible for state dinners and other official events. He could possibly bring in someone from Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago or one of his golf courses. The top job is currently held by Cristeta Comerford, a highly-praised chef who has served under both George W. Bush and Obama for the past decade.
There are a couple of chefs considered as possibilities for that role, including Joe Isidori, chef and owner of Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in New York. Isidori has worked for Trump for several years, launching restaurants at Trump properties and golf clubs, from New Jersey to Las Vegas. He earned a coveted Michelin star while working for Trump in 2008, politico.com reported.
David Burke of BLT Prime has also come up as a possibility. Burke, who's reportedly known Trump since the late 1980s, was one of the chefs who stepped in after Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian famously backed out of the Trump Hotel over Trump's incendiary comments about Mexicans. Trump sued both chefs and remains locked in litigation. A spokesperson for Burke said it was just "a rumor" that he's potentially in the running for the White House post and declined to comment further.
There's a strong possibility, however, that the Trumps will keep Comerford at the helm of the White House kitchen and leave the staff as is. The Filipino American chef, who's executed well over a dozen state dinners, has been consistently raved about. Susan Morrison, the White House executive pastry chef, has also been widely praised. Both Comerford and Morrison are the first women to hold their titles.
Melania, who reportedly isn't moving into the White House until this summer, has given very few hints about her tastes, but the former model, in an interview, once extolled the benefits of eating a diet "full of fruits and vegetables and rich in antioxidants." Ivanka, on the other hand, is vocal about her diet, which is seamlessly tied to her lifestyle brand. She's said to eat lots of greens while limiting carbs and processed foods.
During the presidential campaign, Trump appeared to play up his fast food bonafides to appeal to the everyman. His fast-food tweets have made headlines, but he is also seen at high-end restaurants like Jean Georges in the Trump International Hotel in New York, where he recently met with Mitt Romney over a $600 dinner. His Mar-a-Lago club is known for its lavish seafood buffets and pie that Oprah Winfrey raves about.
Suzy Evans, a literary agent who chronicles presidential culinary history at The History Chef, predicts that Trump will bring his signature extravagant style to the White House kitchen. "I expect that Trump will quickly establish his own unique culinary stamp at the White House," Evans said. "While he has been known to snack on Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's and other fast foods, my hunch is that the Trumps will introduce a level of culinary opulence and abundance that the White House hasn't seen in decades."