It’s been a wild first year for the United States’s 45th president, Donald Trump. From nuclear war-threatening tweet storms to investigations into alleged Russian collusion, each day of 2017 has unfolded with a new surprise from the Oval Office.
The food world has not been immune to those changes. The Trump administration’s efforts to tighten policies regarding immigration and undocumented workers reverberated across the restaurant world in particular, sparking nationwide protests. Trump appointees also weighed in on tip pooling and a controversial Supreme Court case centered on the Colorado bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.
Through it all, Trump’s day-to-day life at the White House (a place he’s allegedly described as “a real dump”) remains a focus of public fascination. Americans learned all about Trump’s penchant for consuming junk food, copious amounts of soda, and well-done steaks this year, much in the same way the president rabidly consumes hours of Fox News.
As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to review some of the biggest dining moments of Trump’s first year in office.
Following his famously under-attended January 20 inauguration, Trump met with congressional leaders, cabinet nominees, and Supreme Court justices for a lunch at the Capitol. The menu featured grilled Seven Hills Angus beef with dark chocolate and juniper jus, potato gratin, and Maine lobster and Gulf shrimp with saffron sauce, followed by chocolate soufflé and cherry vanilla ice cream for dessert. The courses were accompanied by California wines.
The new president then closed out the day in classic Trump form — with a controversy. As it turned out, Trump’s inauguration cake was a copycat version of President Obama’s 2013 inauguration cake. Tiffany MacIsaac, owner of Buttercream Bakeshop, later explained that she had suggested different designs for the cake but was told to replicate it. (Just a week later, newly appointed first lady Melania Trump also ruffled feathers for posing on the cover of Vanity Fair Mexico eating a bowl of jewelry.)
For his first breakfast at the White House residence, Trump reportedly feasted on “fresh fruit, pastries, and other treats” and had the White House kitchens stocked with snacks like Lay’s potato chips, according to the New York Times.
In February, Trump journeyed outside the White House to the comfort of BLT Prime, the high-end steakhouse located inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The president allegedly left the press pool behind only to be tracked down at the restaurant by an intrepid Independent Journal Review reporter, Benny Johnson.
There — flanked by British politician Nigel Farage, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his wife, Renda — Trump ordered an aged New York strip cooked well-done with a highly unorthodox side of ketchup (for the record, BLT Prime chef David Burke insists the sauce was for the president’s fries). The table split three jumbo shrimp cocktails. BLT Prime has since become a popular hangout for congressional Republicans, who dropped thousands of dollars on pricey meals at the steakhouse in 2017.
The president’s favorite fast-food chain, McDonald’s, briefly turned on him in March when the company’s Twitter account was allegedly hacked. The user tweeted “@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands,” even pinning it to the @McDonaldsCorp Twitter page for better visibility.
Trump kicked off April by wining and dining Chinese president Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. Rather than serving Xi a Big Mac, as he had threatened on the campaign trail in 2015, the Mar-a-Lago menu featured Caesar salad, Dover sole, New York strip, chocolate cake, sorbet, and two California wines. Trump later boasted about launching a missile strike on a Syrian air base while feasting on “the most beautiful chocolate cake in the world.”
Mid-month, Trump hosted several lesser dignitaries — Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, and former Alaska governor/vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin — at the White House for a “white china private dinner.” The menu, of course, featured flaming baked alaska in honor of Palin.
America also learned in April that Trump’s Oval Office desk was home to a bright red button that could be pressed to summon a Coca-Cola, adding another level of absurdity to his already well-documented junk food habit.
During a candlelit meal at the White House, three Time correspondents noted that Trump received what appeared to be Thousand Island dressing during the salad course while everyone else got a vinaigrette, as well as extra sauce with his entree and a Diet Coke when everyone else was offered water. As for dessert, POTUS was served a slice of chocolate pie with two scoops of ice cream while all the other guests only received one scoop.
During a visit to the Vatican in late May, Pope Francis reportedly joked to Melania Trump about her husband’s caloric diet.
While in Paris for Bastille Day, Donald and Melania Trump opted for more sophisticated fare: a Michelin-starred dinner at chef Alain Ducasse’s Le Jules Verne restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower. The President and first lady were joined by freshly anointed French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte for the meal, which typically runs $250 per person.
The restaurant printed custom menus for the occasion with an Eiffel Tower on one side and a Statue of Liberty on the other. Courses included pâté, Dover sole, beef filet with brioche and foie gras, and chocolate soufflés.
During a press conference intended to address violent clashes with white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump found time to brag about Trump Winery — a business he doesn’t even own. In response, comedian Tina Fey suggested “sheet-caking” as a way to deal with anxiety and anger about the country, which sparked yet another baked good-fueled political controversy.
While first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner dove head first into D.C.’s dining scene in 2017, POTUS has remained close to the White House throughout the year. However, that might change soon.
In a November interview on the Larry O’Connor Show, Trump finally declared it high time he venture out to more D.C. restaurants. As for the kitchen staff at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the president was very complimentary, describing them as “special people” and saying, “The food is very, very good.” Apparently, some of that “very, very good” food included White House versions of McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with extra ketchup and pickles and apple pies, per Trump’s special request.
During his first major tour of Asia early in the month, Trump eschewed world-class sushi in favor of more familiar dishes. During a visit to Japan, Trump, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, and their wives dined at teppanyaki chain Ginza Ukai Tei where they shared grilled Hokkaido scallops, steak, and chocolate sundaes. Trump and Abe also ate lunch at the Kasumigaseki Country Club where he had a burger delivered from Minato’s Burger Shack (made with American beef, of course).
The president was forced to be slightly more adventurous during his trip to South Korea. The official state dinner menu highlighted local cuisines such as corn porridge with fresh herbs and pine mushroom rice in a stone pot with grilled Korean beef ribs and 360-year-old soy sauce. Earlier in the day, POTUS also joined soldiers for “Taco Tuesday” at U.S. military base Camp Humphreys, where he dined on tacos, a burrito, and curly fries.
Closing out the year, Trump is apparently guzzling roughly a dozen Diet Cokes a day and relishing in White House meals of “well-done steak, salad slathered with Roquefort dressing and bacon crumbles, tureens of gravy, and massive slices of dessert with extra ice cream.” Stay tuned to see what he devours in 2018.