Notes from a White House Kitchen
What did the president eat and when did he eat it?
3:34 PM, Mar 5, 2014 • By VICTORINO MATUS
Yet another damning revelation about the Clintons: Daughter Chelsea preferred imitation maple syrup over the real thing. In Dining at the White House, former presidential chef John Moeller recalls his urging another cook to give the first daughter what she wants, even if it seems just plain wrong.
As Tim Carman recently wrote in the Washington Post,
Moeller also knew not to serve the first President Bush broccoli, though the chef did push the envelope. As Carman notes,
Perhaps most important, Chef Moeller finally solves the mystery of what kind of pretzel was temporarily lodged in George W. Bush's throat. It came from the Hammond Pretzel Bakery in Lancaster, Pa. When the incident occurred in early 2002, I speculated on the possibility it was a Rold Gold. (The folks at Snyder's reassured me it was not one of theirs.)
We also tend to forget that having an American White House chef is a fairly recent development: "Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse restaurant and earth mother of the U.S. locavore movement, sent a letter to president-elect Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, urging them to install an American chef," writes Carman. "The letter was signed by dozens of top chefs, including Wolfgang Puck, who was born in Austria." French chef Pierre Chambrin was then replaced by American Walter Scheib, under whom Moeller worked. And Moeller himself was replaced in 2005 by his colleague Cristeta Comerford. The outgoing chef, according to Carman, "has no hard feelings about being passed over, though he does wonder whether the White House was under pressure to hire a woman by groups such as Les Dames d’Escoffier."
Speaking of the French, I was reminded of Jacques Pépin, who was asked to cook for the Kennedy White House—he turned it down for a corporate chef's position at Howard Johnson. The reason? Been there, done that. Pépin had cooked for five French prime ministers (including de Gaulle) during the heady days of the Fourth Republic. Amid the chaos, he ended up cooking more for Prime Minister Gaillard's cabinet director, M. Aicardi, than for his boss. And Aicardi took full advantage of the First Chef.
In Pépin's memoir, The Apprentice, the author recalls,
Needless to say, M. Aicardi eventually fell victim to gout.
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