Article About the Former Chef at The White House
The NYTimes wrote an article abot Walter Scheib the former Chef at the White House. I found it pretty interesting. He has a new book coming out.
If members want to add anything to this post please make sure it is not political. This is a food board and politics are better discussed elsewhere.
Rene Verdon, the French chef Jackie Kennedy hired and who stayed on through the early part of the Johnson years, wrote The White House Chef Cookbook and French Cooking for The American Table.
Henry Haller, who succeeded him, worked for Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan. Haller wrote The White House Family Cookbook.
Roland Meisner was pastry chef through five administrations and occasionally there is an article about his work but I don't know if he has a book in the works. He did the incredible gingerbread houses in the WH Christmas decorations. Ann Amernick, who worked with Meisner in the Carter and Reagan years, has written several books and is the executive pastry chef and owner of Palena restaurant in Washington DC. She is renowned for her wedding cakes.
Ariel DeGuzman has been personal chef to George HW Bush and Barbara Bush for many years and wrote The Bush Family Cookbook that even includes a recipe for broccoli salad as well as fish caught by the former President.
Just a sampling.
Scheib produced beautiful food at the White House for Mrs. Clinton and for more than four years under Mrs. Bush. The styles of entertaining were as different as the two families are, but both represented the United States well to those they entertained.
The White House kitchen is now under the direction of Cristeta Comerford, who was Schweib's assistant and the first woman to hold the top job. I hope whoever wins in '08 keeps her on as her work has been exemplary, keeping with the fine tradition of White House entertaining
Scheib himself said, "I loved working for both the Bushes and the Clintons." Partisan sniping has no place here. In the White House and in our dipomatic service abroad, we represent the United States, not a political party.
Yup! Pecan Diamonds was one of his recipes.
I also once read a book called "From Hardtack to Home Fries: An Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals" by Barbara Haber. Haber chronicled developments in American history through contemporary cookbooks. One chapter was about Eleanore Roosevelt's infamous secretary who specified really *awful* food for both White House residents and guests including State guests. It was Mrs. Roosevelt's intention to demonstrate some of the loyalty that Laura Bush must be feeling for her secretary and to be observant of the effects of the Depression on American families. ...if only the current residents would model THAT behavior.
Haber supplied a couple of the infamous secretary's recipes. I didn't keep them before I passed the book on.
Seems like I've got a Barbara Bush baked potato soup recipe somewhere, and a Laura Bush one-dish-supper recipe. Anybody else with *official* White House recipes, from ANY administration? Something from Jackie? (The closest I can come to that is watercress soup from Lady Di) Did Jackie cook? Hillary?
I find Chef Scheib to be the quintessential professional. His statement that he isn't in the kitchen to serve what he wants, but what the First Family wants is right on the money.
It's hard to avoid the stereotypical associations a reader brings to and takes away from this story.
Of course, we can all recall catastophic gastronomic associations associated with past presidents.
Remember Nixon's cottage cheese and ketchup and LBJ's love of "barbecue" which, when looked at from today's perspective appears to be an overcooked, oversauced mess.
Chef Scheib seems far better off today. Like Anthony Bourdain he can now wear comfortable clothes, keep regular hours, tell tales and make a lot more money.