Who Will Cook in the Obama White House?
The New York Daily News reports that three chefs are in the running to head the kitchen in the Obama White House. The speculation is that the Obama broom will sweep clean the entire staff, which really isn’t likely. There’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says the White House chef must be replaced with each administration, and it isn’t a position the president-elect usually feels the need to staff with fresh blood, unlike, say, attorney general or deputy undersecretary to the assistant secretary of the secretary of transportation.
Still, the thinking is that the Obama family focuses on eating healthfully and will want someone whose food they’ve enjoyed in the past. But if they dismiss the current chef they’ll be undoing a bit of history with a bit of irony that will not go unnoticed: White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford is the first woman in history to hold the position.
She’s also the first person to be promoted from within, having been selected for the job by Laura Bush in 2005 after serving as an assistant since the mid-’90s.
So I’d be surprised to see to see her summarily fired or even demoted without a tryout to see what she can do. She’s probably anxious to show her cooking skills after three years of cooking for a President who notoriously was not a gourmet.
If the new First Family does decide to go with a new chef, only one of the Daily News’ three contenders seems likely. Rick Bayless, a well-known Chicago restaurateur, probably wouldn’t want to give up control of his two restaurants, Topolobampo and Fronterra Grill, to cook for a family and the occasional state dinner.
Art Smith is currently the personal chef to Oprah Winfrey, and if you think Oprah’s going to give up her chef you’re crazy. And wouldn’t it be considered a step down to go from cooking for a queen to a mere president?
The third candidate, Daniel Young, is personal chef to Denver Nuggets owner Carmelo Anthony and the only African-American of the three. Not that that has anything to do with it, or ever will again, thank you very much. Young cooked for Obama at the Democratic National Convention and apparently made an impression.
We’ll just have to wait and see who Obama chooses. Once he gets that important decision out of the way he can move on to less pressing topics, such as the economy and those pesky Russian missles.