2 of 3 Trump White House Chef Candidates Would Decline the Job
As rumors swirl around Jean-Georges Vongerichten, former Mar-a-Lago top toque Joe Isidori and current Trump Tower culinary head David Burke, they discuss why they would or wouldn’t take the post.
As the Trump family moves into their new home, the culinarily curious are wondering who will be overseeing the White House kitchen. Though no one appears to have been contacted about the post, the three names that have been bandied about are all chefs who have had dealings with the new president: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Burke and Joe Isidori.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the talked-about toques to gauge their feelings on the position. Vongerichten, the longtime chef at Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York, has had a business relationship with Trump since 1997, but also has a slew of restaurants from Bora Bora to the United Arab Emirates. “Of course I would have a conversation with the president,’’ says Vongerichten, who famously prepared a meal for Trump and Mitt Romney in November. “But I have to focus on my restaurants and I have them globally, including in China. I would be concerned about being perceived as political.’’
Isidori, chef and co-owner at Black Tap, which specializes in burgers and has lines out the door, worked for the Trumps from 2003 to 2008 as executive chef at both the Trump Organization and at Mar-a-Lago. Along with Vongerichten, he catered Donald and Melania’s wedding. “They were so nice to me and treated me like family,’’ recalls Isadori. Mr. Trump enjoyed the American classics like steakhouse fare, while Melania and Ivanka had more sophisticated taste. Melania’s favorite dish was poached shrimp with avocado and champagne sauce.’’ Though his experience in cooking for the Trumps was positive, Isidori isn’t looking for an encore. “I want to focus on my restaurants and it would be too difficult to do both,’’ he reveals.
Burke, who took over the restaurant at Trump International Hotel and Tower in Washington when Jose Andres backed out last year, is actually hungry for the job. Even though he has multiple restaurant projects, he sees its unique possibilities. “I already have a restaurant in D.C., so I could put someone in place and oversee things,’’ says Burke, who first met Trump in 1988 when he catered a July Fourth weekend aboard the Trump Princess yacht. “It’s not a restaurant, so you don’t have to make money and just think of the resources — you could get anything you want.’’
Burke also made a suggestion that could be dear to the president’s heart: “It could be a great learning opportunity for cooks. We could start an apprenticeship program for young chefs and get D.C. restaurants and hotels involved!’’