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The chef who makes steaks for Trump

David Burke has been in the news for running a restaurant that the former president frequented during his term

(From left) Beef steak, Chef David Burke and lobster scrambled egg topped with caviar. (Image courtesy: BLT and @BLTPrimeXDB on Instagram)
(From left) Beef steak, Chef David Burke and lobster scrambled egg topped with caviar. (Image courtesy: BLT and @BLTPrimeXDB on Instagram)

Donald Trump devised a clever way to get his daily fix of 12 cans of Diet Coke at his office within the White House during his term as the 45th President of the United States of America. He installed a red button on the table, and upon pressing it, a butler would walk in with the president’s favourite drink on a silver tray. Burgers and pizzas would be ordered from McDonald’s and Domino’s to cater for important events. The former president is a fast food devotee and has certain fixed preferences; so much so that through his four-year presidential term he visited just one restaurant. His order, a well done steak with a side of fries, remained unchanged and the chef knew exactly how the President liked his food.

Chef David Burke runs the show at this fine dining hotspot BLT Prime. It is a contemporary steakhouse located at the Trump International Hotel in Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC. The 58-year-old chef has earned accolades for his food and is the recipient of two James Beard awards. A New York Times story, published in 2016, revealed that he owned about 1200 cookbooks. Apart from being an avid collector, Burke has authored two cookbooks, Cooking With David Burke, and David Burke’s New American Classics.

BLT Prime celebrates American classics, candied bacon, tuna tartare and Trump-approved steaks in an innovative manner. The menu spells luxury and drama in equal parts. Sample this: juicy stripes of bacon hung from a mock clothesline, lobster scrambled egg topped with caviar, North Atlantic salmon with creamy horseradish, crème brulee with Tahitian vanilla and octo-pops or octopus like kebabs. Every single dish is Instagram-worthy.

Chef David Burke with bacon served clipped to a clothesline (Photo:  @ChefDavidBurke, Instagram)
Chef David Burke with bacon served clipped to a clothesline (Photo: @ChefDavidBurke, Instagram)

In an interview with Eater, Burke shared that apart from the aged meats, the former president would often order the Dover sole, hamburger or a shrimp cocktail. He preferred fries on the side with ketchup. Predictably, there would be soda too. And these dishes don't come cheap. At the restaurant, a wagyu beef burger with draft beer costs 34$ (Rs. 2500) and fries are priced at 13$ dollars (Rs. 1000).

A story published in ANI last week highlighted the fact that Trump visited just a single restaurant, that too the one he owned, throughout his presidential term indicated that he did not make any attempt to mingle with the local community. His predecessor Barack Obama was different in this regard. He would make reservations at the trendiest restaurants for dinner nights. Obama had once appeared in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s cult show, Parts Unknown, and the two shared a meal at a small eatery in Hanoi while slurping Vietnamese noodles. In 2014, the late chef Floyd Cardoz had prepared a spicy Goa-inspired dinner for Obama in his New York restaurant named White Street. One of the dishes served to Obama was black pepper shrimp which was on the menu of The Bombay Canteen when they opened.

Meanwhile, the current president Joe Biden issued a covid-19 response plan to safeguard workers' health and employment in the pandemic hit restaurant industry of the United States. It remains to be seen which restaurants in DC will soon become his favourites.

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