Category Archives: state dinners

White House State Dinner with China

Tonight the White House held their third State Dinner, honoring China’s President Hu Jintao. Despite a controversial visit filled with a day of tough talks, President and First Lady Obama (in Alexander McQueen!) spiffed up for a night of food, music, and dignitaries.

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Joining His Excellency Jintao were 200 guests including two former U.S. Presidents (Carter and Clinton), fashion designer Vera Wang, reporter Christiane Amanpour, actor Jackie Chan, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, cellist Yo Yo Ma (“Yo-Yo Ma Rules!”), and Queen of Amazingness Barbra Streisand.

For the past two State Dinners, the Obamas brought in guest chefs and celebrated the cuisine of the country being honored, mixed with American ingredients. This time the First Couple decided to keep the cooking in-house with the extremely capable White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and White House Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses. And instead of opting for Asian flavors they highlighted the classic American meal: steak, potatoes, and apple pie! The full menu is below:

D’Anjou Pear Salad with Farmstead Goat Cheese, Fennel, Black Walnuts, and White Balsamic

Poached Maine Lobster with Orange Glazed Carrots and Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Lemon Sorbet

Dry-Aged Rib Eye with Buttermilk Crisp Onions, Double Stuffed Potatoes, and Creamed Spinach

Old Fashioned Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

Just like in past State Dinners, ingredients from the White House garden were used, along with vegetables from the Huron, OH-based The Chef’s Garden. Wine pairings from American-vineyards were also served.

Table setting in the Red Room. The Red, Blue, and State Dining Rooms were used. Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

After dinner, attendees will enjoy a musical performance from Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, and other musicians from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

The official program for the State Dinner can be found here.

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The Mexican State Dinner

Photo courtesy of Haraz N. Ghanbari (AP)

Last night President and First Lady Obama welcomed the Mexican President and First Lady Felipe Calderón and Margarita Zavala into their home and hosted their second state dinner, this time filled with pageantry, prestige, and mole! The guest list included Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Gayle King (are they a couple? Please say yes!), Dolores Huerta (co-founder of the United Farm Workers), Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and fly-ins from Hollywood comedian George Lopez and Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria Parker.

Photo Courtesy of Charles Dharapak (AP)

200 guests were treated to a Rick Bayless cooked dinner in the gorgeous East Room. An additional 100 joined the First Couples in the entertainment tent for dessert, where they enjoyed a performance by Beyoncé and Rodrigo y Gabriela. The tent had cloth butterflies hanging from the ceiling, in honor of President Calderón’z hometown of Michoacan, where Monarch butterflies spend the winter after migrating from Canada.

Photo courtesy of Tim Sloan (Getty Images)

But enough about all the pomp and circumstance…you came here to hear about the food. Rick Bayless, one of the Obamas’ (and my Dad’s) favorite chefs, hails from the great city of Chicago and is chef-owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. He arrived at the White House two days early to begin the process of making his complicated sauces. Unable to bring any ingredients from his restaurants, he started the menu from scratch, making heavy use of the White House garden. The end result of his state dinner menu sounds delicious. I just hope he makes the dessert recipe available on his website…yum!

Jicama with oranges, grapefruit, and pineapple; citrus vinaigrette; Ulieses Valdez Chardonnay 2007 “Russian River”

Herb Green Ceviche of Hawaiian Opah, Sesame-Cilantro Cracker

Oregon Wagyu Beef in Oaxacan Black Mole; Black Bean Tamalon Grilled Green Beans; Herrera Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 “Seleccion Rebecca”

Chocolate-Cajeta Tart, Toasted Homemade Marshmallows, Graham Cracker Crumble & Goat Cheese Ice Cream; Mumm Napa “Carlos Santana Brut” N/V

(Thank you to CNN’s Ed Henry for tweeting the menu last night.)

For more behind the scenes coverage of the state dinner check out this great interview from Esquire with a very tired Chef Bayless.