The Controversial Way Donald Trump Likes To Eat His Steak

There's something fascinating about the mundane details of the lives of the rich and famous, especially someone as polarizing as former U.S. president Donald Trump. It would be an understatement to say Trump's politics are divisive, but his eating habits are also controversial — one of the most infamous being his penchant for well-done steak. 

Ask any gourmet or pro chef, and they'll likely tell you that this is one of the things you should never do when ordering steak. On a scientific level, the longer you cook the meat, the more of its juices and fat will leak out of the muscle, resulting in a dry, chewy, and flavorless piece of beef. Trump's steak preference was revealed in a 2016 New York Times tell-all interview with Anthony Senecal, the politician's former butler at Mar-a-Lago. Describing how his employer liked his steak cooked, Senecal said that "It would rock on the plate, it was so well done."

This is corroborated by Trump's first restaurant meal in Washington D.C. after his inauguration. His visit to BLT Prime, a steakhouse located inside his own Trump International Hotel (which he no longer owns), was documented in a now-archived Independent Journal Review article. The reporter had a bird's eye view of Trump's table from the balcony, and disclosed that he ordered a $54 dry-aged New York strip steak, well-done. Perhaps even more controversial is the fact that he drowned it in his favorite condiment: ketchup.

Trump's curious dining habits go beyond well-done steak

BLT Prime was the only D.C. restaurant Donald Trump dined at during the four years he was in office, according to The Washingtonian. His regular order was always the same: a well-done bone-in ribeye or filet mignon with fries. He was also served by staff adhering to a specific "Standard Operating Procedure" manual, also obtained by The Washingtonian. In excruciating detail, it specified how Trump's Diet Coke was to be opened and poured in front of him, and brand-new miniature bottles of Heinz ketchup were to be opened so that he could hear their caps "pop" (Trump is said to have a fear of being poisoned).  

At one time, Trump complained that a guest of his received a steak that was larger than his own, after which the restaurant began serving him 40-ounce tomahawks (a ribeye with an extra long piece of bone left attached, so it looks bigger). BLT Prime D.C. closed in 2022. 

While many gourmets would harshly disapprove of Trump's preferences, there are plenty of people who prefer their meat well-cooked rather than glistening red. In fact, close to a quarter of Americans (24%) prefer their steaks well-done (per YouGov). Still, there's a general air of snobbery surrounding a long-cooked slab of beef. According to Anthony Bourdain, well-done steak eaters get the restaurant's worst cuts of meat. All the same, it's your choice, and there are ways to order well-done steak without breaking your server's heart.

Trump's use of ketchup on steak is also controversial

Donald Trump's proclivity for only eating at one restaurant was the opposite of his predecessor. Barack Obama is known for his love of food and liked to sample local eateries during his term. Obama's favorite food to order is a classic cheeseburger, and while he also likes steak on the longer-cooked side — somewhat similar to Trump — he preferred a more moderate medium-well. Other presidents who took their steaks well-done include Ronald Reagan, who liked his served with chili; Ulysses S. Grant, who had an aversion to blood and only ate meat that was charred; and Harry S. Truman, who once said that "only coyotes and predatory animals eat raw beef."

While Trump may get a pardon for enjoying well-done steaks, his fondness for eating them with ketchup is a whole other matter. The practice is widely reviled because the heavily sweet condiment all but covers up the taste of beef. The choice seems counterintuitive to buying a pricey, flavorful cut of meat, even for a multibillionaire. It's also somewhat ironic to have a steak cooked until the muscle fibers have squeezed out all of their juices, then re-moisten it with squirts of ketchup. For many, the trademark Trump combo of parched steak and ketchup is nothing short of criminal.