Rick Bayless has been picked to cook for President Obama's second state dinner. He'll be honoring President Felipe Calderón of Mexico. This isn't especially surprising considering Bayless has often been mentioned as one of Obama's favorite chefs, and was actually rumored as a possible full time White House chef. But still, we aren't the only ones to note that he is perhaps the most well respected cook of Mexican cuisine in America, and Calderón is, um, Mexican. Still we are not sure how tough of a critic Calderón is.
Talking with the New York Times, Bayless said, “This is probably the biggest honor I’ve ever had.” The Times article spends most of its time detailing how difficult the job will be. Apparently, all the food has to be purchased from specific sources, and Bayless can't bring any food of his own. To recreate his Oaxacan black mole he'll have to arrive two days beforehand to get it started.
Two things are interesting about all this. The first is that the actual White House Chef, Cristeta Comerford, has once again been picked over for the event. The first state dinner featured the cooking of Marcus Samuelsson.
Also, this is probably the first time Mexican food has been used to entertain foreign guests at a formal dinner at the White House. The occasion is not lost at Bayless, again talking to the Times: "When we are doing something very special it no longer has to be European or gussied-up American but from the heritage of a whole bunch of people in our country who have never been in the spotlight.”
The full menu has not been released yet, as it's a security rick to do so. We hope some freshly fried churros make the rounds at some point.
Rick Bayless, the Chicago Chef, to Prepare a State Dinner [New York Times]