CHICAGO — Alinea co-owner Nick Kokonas says he couldn't care less about college football, but nevertheless wants to treat the Clemson Tigers to a fine dining feast after the National Champions were served fast food as part of a celebratory dinner at the White House on Monday.
With much of the White House staff on furlough during the government shutdown, President Trump footed the bill to feed the team and their families hundreds of hamburgers, filet-of-fish, pizza slices and other offerings from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King.
“I think that would be their favorite food, so we’ll see what happens,” President Trump said. “We have some very large people that like eating. So I think we’re going to have a little fun.”
Stories about the dinner quickly drew reactions online, including from Alinea co-owner Nick Kokonas, who tweeted he was, "personally inviting the Clemson Tigers team and coaches to Chicago to experience what an actual celebration dinner should be."
Reached by phone Wednesday, Kokonas said he wanted to invite the Tigers to dine in a way he says is more "appropriate" for celebrating a national championship.
"I was sitting there imagining what would the national champions in a sport in Japan or Italy or France get when they went to their respective leaders’ homes, and I imagine that the Japanese spread would be pretty outlandishly amazing," Kokonas said.
What would be on the menu? Kokonas said he thought the young players probably wouldn't be into a 20-course meal, so instead they'd take them on a tasting tour of their different restaurants, maybe one course at Next, whole roasted pigs and chickens at Roister, and dessert at Alinea.
"We could even do some hamburgers that might be different than what they had previously," Kokonas said.
In the end, Kokonas said his goal would be make the most of a "once in a lifetime opportunity" for the young players.
"It’d be nice to expand their minds a little bit and be like, 'hey man, here’s what else is out there,'" he said.