Elite Sushi Chef to Join Trump Hotel After Other Star Chefs Back Out

© Daniel Krieger
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In the months following the high-profile culinary court cases, uncertainty has surrounded Trump's newest property.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this piece attributed statements from Sushi Nakazawa owner Alessandro Borgognone to chef Daisuke Nakazawa. In fact, chef Nakazawa has not commented publicly on the matter. Food & Wine regrets the error.

Amid the recent legal drama surrounding the restaurants at Donald Trump's newly opened Washington D.C. hotel, the Trump organization has announced a new Japanese omakase spot from chef Daisuke Nakazawa will debut in the controversial space next summer.

The culinary hubbub began at the Trump International Hotel—which opened late last month in D.C.'s historic Old Post Office building—in June 2015, following a historic speech kicking off the tycoon's Presidential bid. In his statement, Trump took aim at illegal Mexican immigrants, saying, "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." These words, along with the candidate's vow to build a wall to separate the United States from Mexico were problematic to chef José Andrés, who was slated to open a Spanish restaurant called Topo Atrio within Trump International's newest location. Chef Jeffrey Zakarian had also finalized his plans to open a bistro called the National in the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel.

Shortly after the Trump campaign kicked off to much controversy, both chefs backed out of their restaurant deals, resulting in a pair of $10 million dollar lawsuits brought on by Trump's company. According to The Washingtonian, Andrés in particular, a Spanish immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1991 and has since built a 20-plus restaurant empire, found Trump's anti-immigrant stance to be enough motivation to withdraw from his deal with the company.

In the months following the high-profile court cases, uncertainty has surrounded Trump's newest property, as the President-elect himself has said that building a restaurant after the hotel's opening was "sort of a worst-case scenario." However, this week it was announced that Nakazawa, a bar and dining room from the group behind New York's Sushi Nakazawa, will open in the hotel.

Sushi Nakazawa owner Alessandro Borgognone says the decision to open in the hot-button space was purely a business one. "My decisions are not clouded by my political views or what I feel in my heart, right or wrong. Anytime that we decide something on business, it's what's best for the business," Borgognone says. While the restaurateur notes that he does "feel bad" for Andrés and Zakarian, he is confident that his restaurant will thrive in the Trump space, despite the contention surrounding the political figure.

Nakazawa, which will have a dining room for 30-40 patrons and a 10-seat sushi bar, will offer high-end tasting menus ranging between $120-150. As for Trump, this latest deal might mean trading in his fast food for something slightly more refined.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this piece attributed statements from Sushi Nakazawa owner Alessandro Borgognone to chef Daisuke Nakazawa. In fact, Nakazawa has not commented publicly on the matter. Food & Wine regrets the error.

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