Why Obama’s $36,000 Dinner Is “Cheap”

President Barack Obama is hosting a $35,800 per person dinner tonight with hedge funders at Daniel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. That’s a $5,000 PRICE HIKE from the fundraiser he held at the Red Rooster in Harlem back in March for $30,800. I’m actually going to call this one a BUY if you’re on the presidential fundraising circuit, as the 16.2% hike, proportionally, doesn’t even come close to covering the 113% higher prices at Daniel. Let’s imagine this scenario:

  • You’re eating at Red Rooster, with most appetizers under $20 and all entrees under $35. A three-course dinner for one with three glasses of wine probably won’t cost more than $100 after tax and tip (and that’s being generous). 
  • You then go eat at Daniel, where a three course wine-paired dinner is $168 per person, or $213.15 after tax and tip, which works out to be 113% more than the Red Rooster. 
  • If the hedge funders receive more than three-courses at Daniel, and for $35,800 I”m hoping they might, the value of their meal will go up (recall the Red Rooster fundraiser was a three-course meal). 
  • So if we think of these fundraisers like exchange rates, with the Red Roster dinner being a 30,700% markup from $100, then the Daniel meal should have cost $65,437 per plate. 

So if you’ve got a few hundred million in the bank and like having dinner with the President, I’m inclined to say the three-Michelin starred Daniel is a BUY tonight, at least compared with the Red Rooster fundraising dinner (where this critic had a series oflousy meals earlier this year). A few more notes:

  • If this isn’t your scene, understand that the $35,800 price tag is a 16,696% markup over Daniel’s regular $213.15 price. So, you’re not missing out if you stay home tonight and watch “The Office” on NBC.  
  • President Barack Obama charged $15,900 fundraiser in Chicago back in April atN9NE Steakhouse. Shall we call that a half-price hometown discount? 
  • What’s up with the psychological pricing? I mean, really, if you’re that rich does it have to be $30,800, $35,800 and $15,900? Can’t you just bump it up to $31,000, $36,00 and $16,000 and call it even? 
  • "At $38,000/head, I’d expect to be able to play TRUFFLE DODGEBALL,” writes Eater.com national editor Raphael Brion. “At that price, you better get a souvenir too…like a saffron-thread lanyard,” tweets Sarah LeTrent, associate editor of CNN’s Eatocracy. I’m going to have to agree with both of them. 


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