Alinea co-owner invites Clemson Tigers to Chicago for fine dining celebration

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The owner of some of Chicago's most exclusive fine-dining restaurants has invited the Clemson University football team to have a second celebratory dinner in Chicago.

Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea, Next, the Aviary and Roister, extended the invitation to the Tigers following their visit to the White House on Monday, in which President Donald Trump served the team fast food to celebrate their national championship win.

"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," the restaurateur tweeted late Tuesday.



"I'm not joking," the tweet, which tagged the team, continued. "Someone let them know what The Alinea Group does. It'll be worth it."

Alinea Group's namesake restaurant, Alinea, has been named the best restaurant in the world at least five times. The Michelin 3-starred restaurant is known for innovative dishes and dining experiences like an edible balloon dessert.

"Nothing wrong with fast food from time to time. But when you knock off a national championship, it's time to teach our youth that there are experiences to strive for in life moving forward," Kokonas tweeted in response to Max Temkin, a Chicago native known for creating the popular game Cards Against Humanity and trolling President Trump, who said that he was not convinced that he's enjoyed any restaurant food more than a Big Mac. "Plus... in the white house? no."

Much of the Executive Residence staff, who are ordinarily responsible for catering such receptions, are either furloughed because of the government shutdown, now in its 26th day, or at home due to snowy weather in Washington, leaving Trump responsible for selecting the menu.

Hours before the team's visit on Monday, Trump told reporters, unprompted, that he would be serving "McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King's with some pizza."

"I think that would be their favorite food, so we'll see what happens," he added.

The display, which included boxes of Big Macs, chicken nuggets and Filet-O-Fish, was reportedly paid for by President Trump himself.

Standing behind a table brimming with fast food, Trump promoted the dinner for Clemson as "great American food."

"If it's American, I like it. It's all American stuff," he added, noting the smorgasbord of pizza, "300 hamburgers, many, many french fries -- all of our favorite foods."

The following day, Trump tweeted about the team's visit, claiming to have paid for more than 1,000 hamburgers that the team demolished "within one hour."



"Great guys and big eaters!" the president's tweet said in part.

Kokonas also offered to foot the bill at his celebratory dinner.



"You don't invite someone and then ask them to pay... that's something a classless person would do," Kokonas tweeted in response to someone asking for clarification on his offer. "And it'll cost a LOT more than $3k. I mean, that's not even the vintage champagne budget for those of age."

The Tigers received several other high-profile dinner invitations.

On GMA Day on Tuesday, host and former football player Michael Strahan invited the Clemson football team to Times Square for lobster and caviar.

"We're gonna give you the proper meal you deserve," he said on the show.

Ayesha Curry, wife of NBA superstar Stephen Curry, also offered to host the Tigers at her San Francisco barbecue restaurant, International Smoke.



"@eatatsmoke will gladly feed the Clemson Tigers any day. A real feast and celebration. No 10cent (sic) dipping sauces on silver platters," she tweeted.

The Clemson Tigers have not publicly responded to any of these invitations.

CNN contributed to this report.
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