New York-based chef David Burke will head up the kitchen at BLT Prime, the restaurant sought out to fill José Andrés’s former space inside the Trump International Hotel. Could there be a better fit? For so many reasons, there could not.
Burke, an accomplished chef and restaurateur who earned three stars from the New York Times at age 26, is known for his bombastic, reality-TV-ready personality. He’s appeared on two seasons of Top Chef Masters, where, despite being lauded for his “titanium balls,” he emerged a loser. His culinary partnerships have included a high-end condo building and a casino, where his steakhouse—in which he’s no longer involved—features oh-so-subtle touches like a pink Himalayan-salt aging room and a 35-foot wine tower. As chefs go, he’s a pretty prolific tweeter.
He’s also had a few Trumpian side gimmicks that didn’t quite stick. In an alternate universe where no products have been discontinued, you could carve into a Trump Steaks filet mignon with one of Burke’s name-branded serrated knives, while flipping through glossy copies of Davidburke Magazine and Trump Magazine. Then there was Burke’s line of diet-friendly Flavor Sprays, meant to perk up boring old veggies with low-cal spritzes of parmesan and smoked bacon (I still have the occasional night terror from the blue cheese version I once atomized on my tongue). And he created an array of Flavor-Transfer Spice Sheets, panes of food glue holding spice blends like Memphis BBQ and Asian citrus ginger.
More successful: Burke’s GourmetPops line of cheesecake lollipops, in flavors like cherry pink cashmere, which spawned the most pointless of wedding dessert-table trends. And maybe guests at Trump will be treated to his Can o’ Cake—“cake mixed, baked, and eaten from a portable tin,” which sells for a cool $20 at his former Foxwoods steakhouse.
And, like Trump, Burke has forged ahead despite some less-than-savory accusations: In 2009 Burke’s limo driver said the chef punched him and slammed a car trunk on his head. The previous year, he was accused of groping a manager at Hawaiian Tropic Zone, the Hooters-esque restaurant where he was a consulting chef. Burke denied both allegations, and the latter case was settled in 2010.
How good BLT Prime’s food tastes remains to be seen. But it looks like Trump has lucked into a pretty tremendous culinary soulmate.