White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen

Friedman, Andrew; Scheib, Walter

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN 10: 0471798428 / ISBN 13: 9780471798422
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Synopsis: "An engaging book about life at the Executive Mansion. . . . Hillary Clinton had charged this fiercely competitive, meticulously organized chef with bringing 'what's best about American food, wine, and entertaining to the White House.' His sophisticated contemporary food was generally considered some of the best ever served there."
--Marian Burros, New York Times

White House Chef

Join Walter Scheib as he serves up a taste--in stories and recipes--of his eleven years as White House chef under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Scheib takes readers along on his whirlwind adventure, from his challenging audition process right up until his controversial departure. He describes his approach to meals ranging from the intimate (rooftop parties and surprise birthday celebrations for the Clintons; Tex-Mex brunches for the Bushes) to his creative approach to bringing contemporary American cuisine to the "people's house" (including innovative ways to serve state dinners for up to seven hundred people and picnics and holiday menus for several thousand guests).

Scheib goes beyond the kitchen and his job as chef. He shares what it is like to be part of President Clinton's motorcade (the "security bubble") and inside the White House during 9/11, revealing how he first evacuates his staff and then comes back to fix meals for hundreds of hungry security and rescue personnel. Staying cool under pressure also helps Scheib in other aspects of his job, such as withstanding the often-changing "temperature" of the White House and satisfying the culinary sensibilities of two very different first families.

From the Inside Flap: Hired by First Lady Hillary Clinton to become White House chef in 1994, Walter Scheib faced a daunting challenge—to take an outdated kitchen focused on traditional French cooking and make it a modern showcase for restaurant-quality American food, featuring the best seasonal ingredients and vibrant contemporary flavors. Scheib seized the opportunity and the world noticed. Menus and even some culinary controversies were reflected in major publications such as the New York Times and Newsweek, and were the subject of political cartoons like Doonesbury. Scheib's meals were praised by high-profile epicures including Julia Child and French prime minister Jacques Chirac. As more was accomplished, more was expected, and Scheib stepped up, serving thousands of innovative meals during the Clinton years and through the first term of the Bush administration.

In this fascinating memoir, Scheib shares a personal, kitchen-eye view of life in the White House during his eleven years "at the stove" under two very different administrations. He offers an intimate portrait of the Clinton White House—and captures how the arrival of the Bushes changed everything. You'll read about:

  • Preparations for state dinners honoring many world leaders, including the dinner for Nelson Mandela, one of the most anticipated White House events during President Clinton's time in office
  • Scheib's twenty-nine-hour "day" (without sleep) orchestrating the White House Millennial New Year's Eve celebrations
  • The Clintons' mandate for authentic "local" dishes at the G8 Summit meal in Colorado, resulting in a meal featuring American buffalo, cowboy rollups, and rattlesnake
  • President Bush's tee ball games on the White House lawn and the president's insistence that the hot dogs must be steamed, never grilled

Scheib also captures the more personal side of his job—serving as private chef to the first family. You'll read about Scheib:

  • Cheering up Mrs. Clinton with an off-the-menu dish of Sizzling Fajitas when it seems she's having a challenging day
  • Serving President Clinton a big Porterhouse Steak with Béarnaise Sauce and Onion Rings when his wife is out of town
  • Teaching Chelsea Clinton how to cook before she goes away to college
  • Bantering with President Bush—who calls him "Cookie"—almost daily about "what's for lunch"

Full of revealing anecdotes, photographs, menus, and special White House recipes—from the Pecan-Crusted Lamb with Red-Curried Sweet Potatoes that helped Scheib ace his job audition to the Vodka-Marinated Salmon and Kasha Pilaf prepared for the ever-merrier Russian president Boris Yeltsin to Laura Bush's Roasted Beet Salad at lunches—White House Chef is a treat for everyone who loves food, politics, or both.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two ...
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine

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Friedman, Andrew, Scheib, Walter
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