Though much has been said about the fast-food feast President Trump served to the victorious Clemson Tigers at the White House on Monday in honor of their National Championship win, Twitter users are divided over news of a swanky, Michelin-starred Chicago’s restaurant’s offer to give the football players an “actual celebration dinner” as an “opportunistic” attempt at “using those boys for free PR.”
The day after the dinner, Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea, invited the Tigers to the Windy City for another celebration dinner that he billed as truly commemorative of their achievements.
According to Eater, Alinea is considered to be one of the “most expensive restaurants in America,” famed as Chicago's highest-rated fine dining restaurant (with three Michelin stars) and a trailblazer for molecular gastronomy.
“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,” Kokonas wrote on Twitter in a post that has since been liked over 8,000 times. “I'm not joking. Someone let them know what The Alinea Group does. It'll be worth it.”
The generous offer immediately set off a firestorm of debate on the social platform, with some chastising the restaurateur’s offer as self-serving, while others – even an executive McDonald’s chef – jumped in to defend Kokonas’ intentions.
"I like a burger as much as anyone else. At the end of the day, though, I’m betting they’ve had that, as football players, a thousand times. I bet they’ve had nothing quite like what we do," Kokonas told The Chicago Tribune in response to the news Thursday, divulging that he and his staffers know how to serve a meal for “the appropriate occasion.”
He continued to allude that the Tigers would be served something along the lines of "maybe four or five suckling pigs roasted properly, and the Roster fried chicken" if they were to dine with his restaurant group.
For context, dinner at The Alinea Group’s various locations typically runs between $205 to $495 per person, as per Eater.
“I’m trying to make this as nonpolitical as possible. For me, this isn’t about politics. It’s about something we can do to correct something I thought was just wrong,” Kokonas told the Tribune. “That’s it.”
Nevertheless, Twitter users couldn’t resist having a field day with the touchy topic.
“HA! Owner of @Alinea in Chicago thinks football players would have rather eaten there than Big Macs in the White House. Clearly they have never met football players. Those guys don't want micro portion gastronomy,” one critic clapped.
“How opportunistic based off the pictures on @Alinea twitter page the Clemson players ate better at the White House,” one chimed in.
“Gross and opportunistic restaurant using those boys for free PR,” another agreed.
“Those portions from Alinea,” one Twittizen declared, adding a few “thumbs down” emoji.
Others, meanwhile, argued that Kokonas meant nothing but the best with the proposal.
“Whoaaaaaa.....my dinner at Alinea was one of the greatest dining experience I have ever enjoyed,” McDonald’s chef and Manager of Culinary Innovation Michael Haracz fired back.
“Surely there's some middle ground between 'grotesque mountain of fast food' and 'apple-flavored helium' we could offer these kids???” another wondered.
Rather pragmatically, one Twittizen bet that the brawny, twenty-something male athletes that comprise the elite Tigers football team would likely still be hungry after such a fancy (albeit hypothetical) feast.
“[I’m] sure they would go to McDonald’s after to get real food,” they mused.
As per the Associated Press, Clemson has not yet responded to the invitation.