Ivana Trump Wants to Talk Diet, Not Donald

Gianluca Mech and Ivana Trump snacking on one of the products from Mr. Mech’s diet line at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan on Tuesday.CreditRebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Ivana Trump was back at the Plaza Hotel on Tuesday, the hotel where she once had a say over everything from the wallpaper to the chandeliers, back when she was married to Donald J. Trump. But that was long ago. Now, she had come to promote a diet that promises followers they can “eat pasta, cookies and lose weight.”

It was Ms. Trump who gave Mr. Trump a definite article — she put the “the” in “the Donald” — long before he had a job that came with one, as the president. On Tuesday, as reporters crowded around her at the Plaza, she was asked how often she talks to her ex-husband.

“I’m really not going to go into politics,” she said, “but we speak.” But later, when she was asked how she thought he had done at the summit meeting on North Korea, she said, “He did great.”

But about that diet. It is the brainchild of Gianluca Mech. He is an Italian businessman perhaps best known for spending $200,000 to recreate, for one night last year, the Brooklyn discothèque where “Saturday Night Fever,” the 1977 homage to the bell-bottoms-and-disco-ball era, was filmed. He is extremely thin, although he said his father was obese.

His “Italiano Diet” offers specially formulated low-calorie, low-carbohydrate packaged meals. There are $20 cookies dipped in dark chocolate, $24 crunchy bars with strawberries and raspberries and, for $14, fusilli pasta.

Ms. Trump, who once appeared in commercials for Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken, said she agreed to talk up the Italiano Diet because “obesity is like a calamity in America,” although she said that she herself did not need to shed pounds.

And so she worked her way across the Oak Room, sitting on a gold chair for one television interview and standing not far from the bar for another.

On the bar were silver trays with Italiano Diet items in their wrappers. In the next room were silver serving dishes with Italiano Diet pasta. And, as reporters trailed behind, she made her way to a red carpet set up in front of a screen. There was a nearly blinding bombardment of photographers’ flashes, as at a Broadway opening.

Ms. Trump said there was a reason obesity has become a national problem. “It’s all on the parents,” she said. “Whatever they put on the plate in front of the children, they’re hungry, they don’t cook, they eat. So if you put food in front of them that’s junk — pizza, unhealthy food, French fries — of course they eat it, and then they get obese.”

As Ms. Trump swirled through the Oak Room, she did not mention Michelle Obama, who, as first lady, took up the battle against childhood obesity. And when she was asked a question that mentioned Melania Trump, the president’s third and current wife, she expanded on what she had said earlier in the evening.

“I am not going to talk politics and White House or about my ex or first lady,” she said. “I am first Trump lady, that I can say.”

Mr. Mech said they had met in Italy — Ms. Trump was a friend of a friend. She had no reason to try the Italiano Diet, he said. “She’s thin.”

But one night he served Italiano Diet products at a restaurant, in what sounded like one of those commercials where the real coffee had been replaced by instant. “Ivana was eating my product, and another friend asked if you are on the diet of Gianluca,” he recalled. “She answered, ‘Why?’ Ivana was surprised: ‘This is very tasty.’ I sent her some food in New York.”

He said his diet products were made in Italy now, but added, “We are studying how to produce in America.”

“This is a very good moment to invest in the United States because the United States cuts taxes,” he said.

He said he was not referring to the tax bill that the president signed last December, which cut taxes for corporations. (It also lowered individual rates, but those reductions are scheduled to end in 2025.) He added that he and Ms. Trump had not discussed the tax bill.

“No, no talk about that,” he said. “I just consider, in Italy, we pay 55 percent in taxes. Here, you pay much less.”