Menu: seasonal. Music: questionable. Legacy: tbd. The Obamas will eat their final state dinner Tuesday night in the company of Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini, Eater reports. Here’s what we know: it is to be an al fresco affair held on the White House South Lawn. Chandeliers confirmed. Mention of mirrored table. “Bountiful fall harvest”-themed menu a collaboration between Mario Batali, White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford, and White House executive pastry chef Susan Morrison. Main course wine pairing of the California Zinfandel varietal.
Now, if you’re an agnolotti gazer, you may need to know more about the first course. Having perused the menu myself (easy, it’s today’s internet wallpaper), I can confirm there will be pinwheels and gremolatas and rabes galore. Oh, and! Musical stylings by mainstream legend Gwen Stefani. Hope that helps.
Meanwhile, we just wrapped after two days at the annual James Beard Foundation Food Conference in New York City, where the Obamas’ former assistant White House chef, Sam Kass (who also worked as senior policy advisor for nutrition and executive director of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative during his time in the White House) took on SlowFood’s CEO, Richard McCarthy, in a debate about whether or not Big Food has to die in order to save the food system.
We’ll bring you much more on that tomorrow. But today I leave you to ponder something Kass said in answer to a question about why our current presidential candidates haven’t done more to address food policy. When it comes to food, he said, “No matter what a politician does, it’s seen as a loss. We are so good at turning our wins into losses.”
Some, like Beard conference keynote speaker Gina McCarthy from the EPA, say the Obama administration did more for food system change than any administration in recent memory. (I’ll describe the audience response to her comment as an urge toward applause). Others–notably Michael Pollan in the New York Times this month–say there were many missed opportunities. Either way, since that debate isn’t likely to come up over petit fours at the state dinner, we’ll keep it alive at our table. (And, yes, the food at Beard was fabulous.)