Food News

Florida Restaurant Inspectors Find 16 Violations at Trump's Mar-a-Lago, the Southern White House

Mar-a-Lago National Park Service / Wikimedia Commons
In the few months that Donald Trump has been the leader of the free world, his exclusive Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, has gone from a private resort to the Southern White House.

Mar-a-Lago recently made headlines when President Trump held an impromptu national security meeting on the terrace of the club with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while dozens of regular diners snapped photos and listened in on the conversation involving North Korea's testing of ballistic missiles.

Given that Mar-a-Lago's membership fee recently doubled to $200,000 and foreign heads of state are being entertained there, one would assume the dining to be on par with Michelin-starred establishments. Indeed, the club's website boasts of "an extraordinary culinary experience for its members and their guests."

But recent state inspections, pointed out by the Miami Herald, show a different side.

On January 26, the state conducted routine inspections at Mar-a-Lago Club, Mar-a-Lago LLC, and Beach Club at Mar-a-Lago. Though each of these inspections passed the state's minimum requirements and no emergency closures occurred, the reports show violations that range from basic to high-priority. There were 16 combined violations found at Mar-a-Lago and the Beach Club at Mar-a-Lago.

According to the state's Department of Business & Professional Regulation, high-priority violations are "those which could contribute directly to a foodborne illness or injury. High Priority lodging violations are those which could pose a direct or significant threat to the public health, safety, or welfare." Mar-a Lago received 13 violations, three of them high-priority:
- All potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) foods in reach-in cooler cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. One door cooler on cook line shrimp (49°F - Cold Holding); burger (49°F - Cold Holding); turkey (50°F - Cold Holding); octopus (50°F - Cold Holding), hotdog 49°, chef moved items to walk-in cooler.

-All potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) foods in walk-in cooler cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Poultry (49°F - Cold Holding); duck (50°F - Cold Holding); rice (50°F - Cold Holding); Beef (50°F - Cold Holding); ham (57°F - Cold Holding), chef call technicians to lower setting. Technician said it was on defrost and has corrected the problem.

-Nonexempt fish offered raw or undercooked has not undergone proper parasite destruction. Fish must be fully cooked or discarded.
Two of the three above violations were corrected onsite.

In addition, several intermediate violations occurred, including:
- Reach-in cooler not maintained in good repair. Do not store potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food in this unit until the unit is repaired. One door cooler on cook line shrimp (49°F - Cold Holding); burger (49°F - Cold Holding); turkey (50°F - Cold Holding); octopus (50°F - Cold Holding), hotdog 49°, chef moved items to walk-in cooler.

- Hot water not provided/shut off at employee handwash sink. In front of kitchen and kitchen not at 100°, technicians corrected problem.
Though routine state inspections generally find some basic violations at every establishment and few pass inspections with no findings, the fact that heads of state such as Chinese President Xi Jinping are entertained at the Palm Beach location makes every detail more significant.

In fact, just days ago, when asked about how the Syrian bombing took place, Trump raved about the "beautiful" chocolate cake served. New Times has a call in to Mar-a-Lago's food and beverage department and will update this story with any comments from the property.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss