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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dinner At The White House

Last night Michael treated me to a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience.  No, we didn't exactly fly to the nation's capital but we did have "Dinner and Conversation" with The American Chef Walter Scheib who spent 11 years as the Presidential Chef in the White House under both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Ken and Jolee met us for the dinner and event at the University Club which by far has one of the best views in the city.

Chef Scheib mingled with the 60 guests during the reception, autographing copies of his book, White House Chef.  The foodie in me is dying here!  Another 1) Photo to add to my collection of celebrity chef snapshots and 2) my first Presidential Chef autographed cookbook  3) Flowing bubbly 4) Endless tray passed appetizers - can you say truffled sweetbreads?  I love my work.

After the reception we gathered in the main dining room and took our seats, shortly after greeted again by the Chef.  An engaging, energetic storyteller Chef Scheib painted a picture for us on how he stumbled into the role as White House Chef.  With great color we learned bits about the culinary preferences of both First Ladies Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.  The later requiring everything served in the White House be organic.

Hired by Hillary, Chef Sheib's charge was to bring New American Cuisine to the White House which he described as cuisine that:
Features American ingredients and international elements and styles together into an exciting, ever-changing cuisine the defies easy definition
But he tried, stating that New American Cuisine had the following components:
  • Flavorful
  • Regional Overtones
  • Foreign Influences

Our first course, Scheib explained, was inspired by Chelsea Clinton's decision to become a vegan but modified later for Prime Minister Blair by adding in cream and protein. 

The Sesame crusted halibut with red curried sweet potato soup paired with Trevor Jones Virgin Chardonnay.

As you can see, I hated it.

The Tequila glazed smoked angus tenderloin with warm fruit salsa and chipotle corn sauce was a dish created for a mini "state dinner" hosted by the Bush twins.  It was paired with Flying Winemaker Zinfandel.

In between courses Chef Scheib came out and described each dish, providing a little commentary on what it was like working for the big personalities in the White House.  Chef explained that President Bush was not a fan of green things, salad, soup, stinky cheese or wet fish.  Challenged by this banned list and required to create a salad and cheese course for a formal dinner, Chef Scheib masterminded our next course.

Manchego tamale tart with avocado, orange and charred onion salad. It was paired with the Brennan Avery Cabernet Sauvignon.

And finally, our last course described as the "Down Home" dish of Peach and blackberry cobbler with honey and lavender ice cream paired with a Quady Elysium Black Muscat, was sinfully good.  Scheib says this dish crosses party lines and actually combined Bill Clinton's love of cobbler with Laura Bush's love of Blue Bell ice cream and all things floral.

 I stopped myself from devouring the whole plate, thankfully, Michael was there to pick up my slack.

Last night ranks up there for me as one of the most entertaining dinners like this I have attended. 

Tonight, I work out with the Evil Training Monster.  If he reads this, I'm sure he will make me pay for my night of indulgence.  I have to say, it was worth every cream, sauce, sugar, butter filled bite!

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