Wednesday, June 08, 2011

White House Video: Inside The Kitchen During The German State Dinner Preparations

Executive Chef Cris Comerford talks about the inspiration for the menu, and the giddy challenge of plating four courses for hundreds of guests while under tight time constraints...
President Obama and First Lady Obama welcomed more than 200 guests to dine in the Rose Garden on Tuesday night, under clear skies and high Washington heat--it was about 85 degrees as they greeted Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband during a brief ceremony on the North Portico. In a new video shot yesterday morning in the White House kitchen as the chefs worked to prepare the American sourced dinner, Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford discusses the seasonal menu, noting that it is a celebration of Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden, which she harvested for Spring last Friday. The menu encompassed a vast sweep, from Hawaiian Tuna, served raw with Rye Crisps, to German Apple Strudel. In the video, Comerford admits to loving the tense moments during the dinner service when she has to choreograph the plating of hundreds of dishes. (Above: Comerford with Kitchen Garden greens used for the White House Chopped Salad that was served at the dinner; an assistant chef cuts Rye Crisps)

"The most favorite part is getting to the dishing part," Comerford says. "You only have like 45 minutes to do four courses and that means about a thousand-some plates to hand out in the next 45 minutes. So for us, the chefs, it's like 'wooooo,' we're really looking forward to that."

State Dinners, though elegant and lavish and filled with formal protocol, are very short--no more than an hour and a half from start to finish. And the timing of the courses is dependent on when the President makes his toast. Staging for the dessert course, Apple Strudel, was done outdoors, beneath the North Portico.

State Dinner Menu
In Honor of Chancellor Angela Merkel

White House Garden Chopped Salad
Fine Herbs
White House Honey Gastrique

Tuna Tartare with Rye Crisps
Pickled Young Carrots and Mustard Oil
Spring Pea Salad
Shaved Ham and Ginger Snaps

Petite Filet
With Maryland Crab Ravioli
Wild Ramp Puree

Apple Strudel
Golden Raisins and Topfen

Above: Plated Strudel awaits delivery to guests.

*Download the White House booklet on the State Dinner HERE [PDF]