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January 21, 2009

The Obamas' White House chef



I'm glad to see that President Obama isn't taking this change thing to extremes, or at least the First Lady isn't. I never liked the rumor that the new occupants of the White House were going to hire Oprah's personal chef. It seemed somehow, I don't know, undignified. Like using Dr. Phil for your psychotherapist.

It turns out that Cristeta Comerford, President Bush's executive chef and the first woman to hold that position, will be staying on. She's been there since 2005. ...

Newsweek had an amusing article about how overzealous foodies tried to get involved in the process of choosing the Obamas' chef.

I agree that there ought to be more information available about what the First Family eats, but not because I think it will improve America's eating habits. I'm just curious, and it doesn't seem like that terrible an invasion of privacy.

(AP Photo of Cristeta Comerford /Tina Hager)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 2:59 PM | | Comments (17)


I thought I read somewhere that Rick Bayless was going to be his chef. Did that fall through, or was that never the case?

Well, I am sure G.H.W. Bush would disagree. Once the broccoli farmers found out he harbored a distaste for broccoli, he was never able to live it down. I'm sure I wouldn't want a few truckloads of bananas to arrive at my door if I was President and the world found out that I can't stand the fruit...

I agree that there ought to be more information available about what the First Family eats,

Ya know, much as I support animal shelters and adoption over buying Mill Puppies, I became horrified at the behavior of the American public in the issue of the Obama family dog. I got all sorts of online petitions to sign. Everyone, everywhere wanted a say in the purebred vs. mixed-breed question. Personally, I just don't want to see any more of that instrusive behavior. These People (the Obamas) have been gracious and kept a sense of humor. Let's not become a Royal Pain about every stinkin' detail of their lives. Let's allow the First Kids to go through their food quirks without the constant commentary (I really have no interest in what Leno or Letterman think about it all) and trust First Mom to see that her husband's diet is healthy.

Nevermind, read the link. I'm a bozo.

I think Eve has the right idea.

I agree that there ought to be more information available about what the First Family eats,

Me too. Not that I want input or anything, its more of a curiosity to see what they like to eat and that they are regular folks just like the rest of us.

An article I was reading about the White House food in National Geographic stated that the author wanted to get a picture of Dubya making a PB&J, but couldn't. Perhaps the Prez didn't want to be seen eating such a thing?

... the author wanted to get a picture of Dubya making a PB&J, but couldn't.

Isn't that precisely why there is a White House Chef and kitchen staff - so the Prez can get his PB&J or BLT or whatever, essentially by calling "Oval Office Service?"

I recall that when Gerald Ford was photographed toasting his English muffins in the morning, the sales of English muffins increased dramatically.

Ms. Reichl and her friends want influence over the White House menu because they have a culinary-point-of-view ax to grind and think they will gain credibility if the First Family appears to share it.

We should pay no attention whatsoever to someone who thinks the White House kitchen should have its own press office.

I heard Michelle Obama in one of her interviews after the election saying that they expected their daughters to continue to make their own beds every morning, etc. etc. and not to expect to be waited on hand and foot. I think they want the girls to grow up as normally as possible in those surroundings. And, as Garrison Keilor said on NPR last weekend, they have the advantage of a great "First Grandma" to keep them in line.

A -- I recall a bit of ancient (1971) philosophical wisdom, to wit "I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus." I hope that helps.

I think the Obama's should be subject to the same standards on anyone else when it comes to food. If they eat in public (restaurants or formal work dinners), what they eat and how they eat it is fair game. What they eat in private should stay in private.

Even the Pres. should be able to eat an entire bag of peanut M&Ms or binge on the occasional fifth of Ben and Jerry's without some snoop posting it to their blog.

Lissa, come on--does this man look as if he eats candy by the bag? I don't think so ... And no one mentions this, but personally am delighted to have a First Lady with hips, plus her own personal take on fashion. What she wore on the big day struck me as very fresh and optimistic. The girls as well!

I highly recommend Walter Scheib's book White House Chef - he was hired by Hilary Clinton and made it through a few years of the W's administration. Lots of interesting, behind the scenes details - like running out of an ingredient and sending a "runner" to a local store to pick it up.
It also has receipes and discusses how the Chef interacts with the First Family (with the Clintons, lots of interaction, with W, kept at a distance)

In addition to the White House kitchen, there is a smaller kitchen in the private residence, for when the chefs downstairs go home for the evening I suppose.

What she wore on the big day struck me as very fresh and optimistic. The girls as well!

mbt shoes

Very much the helpful information. Thanks.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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