Food, Travel and Tech

Clemson Tigers get invite to Michelin-starred restaurant to make up for Trump's fast food spread

US President Donald Trump speaks alongside fast food he purchased for a ceremony honoring the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion Clemson Tigers in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 14, 2019. - Trump says the White House chefs are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's White House fast food feast for reigning college football champions, the Clemson University Tigers, ignited a social media storm on Monday. Flurries of tweets and memes poked fun of the spread, which consisted of a reported $3,000 worth of McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King burgers; Fillet O Fish sandwiches, Chicken McNuggets, Domino's pizza and a few salads, all in their paper and plastic packaging, but served on silver platters. 

Now, some of the country's culinary elite and even a celebrity are inviting the players for a better celebratory dinner that doesn't involve takeout or ketchup packets.

On Tuesday night, Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea in Chicago, which has three Michelin stars and is consistently named one of the world's best restaurants, tweeted "I could care less about college football. But I'm personally inviting the Clemson Tigers team and coaches to Chicago to experience what an actual celebration dinner should be." He said that he was not joking and tagged the Clemson Tigers.

Kokonas told the Chicago Tribune that the meal would likely celebrate the school's South Carolina roots and wouldn't be "hoity-toity." 

"What it's really about is tying back to something special for them," he told the Tribune. "I imagine we'd have some heritage South Carolina cooking. I bet we have some spirits from the late 19th century that ties to the founding of the university."

The meal would start at Roister, another more casual Chicago restaurant owned by Alinea Group. 

"We know how to do it appropriately for the appropriate occasion, like maybe four or five suckling pigs roasted properly, and the Roister fried chicken," he said. "Then it would be nice to put them all on a bus and take them over to Alinea for a couple of signature desserts."

"We're not billionaires but we can afford to do it the right way," Koknas told the Chicago Tribune.

"I'm just thinking back to when I was 20 or 21, going to a new city and having someone provide true hospitality is very humbling and mind expanding," Kokonas told the Chicago Tribune. "They already knew that pizza and McDonald's and Wendy's and Burger King existed. They probably have never experienced anything like what we could do for them. I just thought that would be fun."

"This is about showing them how a proper celebration looks in adulthood," Kokonas tweeted, in response to a tweet that accused him of being spiteful against Trump. 

"For me this isn't about politics. It's about something we can do to correct something I thought was just wrong. That's it," he told the Tribune.

And Kokonas isn't the only high-profile person to put out an offer to the Tigers: Michael Strahan, host of ABC's "Good Morning America" and a former New York Giants player, invited the Tigers to a lobster meal, on him.

"We gonna take care of you," Strahan said on GMA. "We gonna give you the proper meal that you deserve because that was one great game, a great accomplishment."

Celebrity chef and cookbook author Ayesha Curry also took to Twitter to invite Clemson to her restaurant, International Smoke in San Francisco, for a celebratory meal. "@eatatsmoke will gladly feed the Clemson Tigers any day," she tweeted. "A real feast and celebration. No 10 cent dipping sauces on silver platters."

Kokonos, who told the Chicago Tribune he had not yet received a response from Clemson to his invite, noted that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) might need to first grant the athletes permission in order to accept the meal.

"Some people are saying the NCAA would not allow that to happen, because of eligibility rules and you're not allowed to give gifts to players," he says. "So I think we'd need to get NCAA permission to do this."

Don't miss: Trump's getting trolled for Clemson fast food dinner, but Warren Buffett and others are big fans of junk food too

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US President Donald Trump speaks alongside fast food he purchased for a ceremony honoring the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion Clemson Tigers in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 14, 2019. - Trump says the White House chefs are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
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