White House Chef: Not Such A Glam Job, Folks
This weekend's New York Daily News has entirely fabricated a story about three chefs that are in the running to be the White House chef for the newly-elected Obamas. They list off Art Smith (famous as Oprah's cook), Rick Bayless (that's Captain Frontera to you and us), and Daniel Young, who is currently the personal chef to Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets.
Lest you believe this list of three is actual news, pay attention to one of the opening paragraphs:
Though the Obama camp says that no decisions have been made yet about who will occupy the kitchen at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., three top chefs have emerged as possible presidential cooking contenders.
But then again, we get some anonymous dish from 312 Dining Diva, one of whose tipsters tells her that "My friend who is a GM at a top Chicago restaurant was at a chef event this week and overheard Rick Bayless asking Art Smith if he accepted the job to become the President Elect's white house chef."
It's interesting to us that so many big-name chefs are being bandied around as contenders for this position (Serious Eats' Ed Levine suggests that the Obamas ask Grant Achatz, though we suspect Levine has tongue planted firmly in cheek).
Most chefs whose names are known on the national stage are very rarely in the kitchen on a regular basis. Given that, while we can imagine someone like Art Smith signing on for kind of a headlining position, consulting on an overall feel to the kitchens and providing menus for special events — think Marcus Samuelsson's involvement with C-House — without really being involved in the day-to-day of the kitchen, it's unlikely he can take on the actual job of White House Executive Chef. At least, not as the position currently stands.
As with most three-meals-a-day restaurant jobs, the reality of the White House Executive Chef is far more mundane than the job title implies. Per the wikipedia article, the responsibilities of the position include "the planning, managing and preparing of all menus and meals for the First Family" — that includes things like breakfast on a random Tuesday, or box lunches for Sasha and Malia (which, we'll say right now, we think is going to be a major trend topic on the mommyblogs come January 20th).
[Photo: White House chef Cristeta Comerford in the White House kitchen, circa 2002, Whitehouse.gov]