Elite culinary fraternity celebrates the 50th anniversary of the German-French post-war reconciliation, and meets with Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande...
With both her bosses spending loads of time on the campaign trail, White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford has plenty of free time. The Top Toque is currently in Berlin, Germany for the week-long meeting of Club des Chefs des Chefs, the exclusive fraternity of chefs who work for Heads of State and Royal Families. The group annually visits a different member country to explore local cuisine and engage in culinary diplomacy. This year's confab, celebrating the group's 35th anniversary, is split between Germany and France to mark the 50th anniversary of the post-war reconciliation. Germany's Chef Ulrich Kerz, the master of Chancellor Angela Merkel's kitchen, and Chef Bernard Vaussion, his counterpart at France's Elysee Palace, are playing co-hosts to their fellow chefs. (Above: On Thursday, Comerford with Kerz as the chefs gathered at Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate for a family photo)
Comerford, the first female White House Executive Chef, is the only woman in the world's most elite group of cuisinaires, which has about 40 members. On Thursday, the chefs met at Berlin's storied Adlon Hotel to cook, eat, and swap battle stories. On Friday, they gathered at Chancellor Merkel's office for a special luncheon marking the 50th anniversary of the reconciliation, which featured dishes that are the German leader's personal favorites.
"We will offer a buffet with German specialties including a variety of vegetables and fried fish," Kerz told AFP. Vaussion, the Elysee's chef for 40 years through six presidencies, joined forces on the cooking duties, and the menu included sea bass, artichokes and creme brulee for dessert. Chancellor Merkel was expected to join the lunch, briefly.
Comerford cooked for the Chancellor when President Obama honored her with a State Dinner on June 7, 2011. The "Spring Harvest" menu starred vegetables from First Lady Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden. (Above: Comerford, second from left, is seated between Hilton Little, Chef to the President of the Republic of South Africa, and Vaussion for the family photo in front of the Brandenburg Gate)
The Paris visit...
On Saturday, Club de Chefs de Chefs will travel to Paris, where they will climb the Eiffel Tower to visit Chef Alain Ducasse's Jules Verne restaurant, and dine on a menu featuring crab claw and crunchy turnip, grilled prawns, veal scallops with grilled girolle mushrooms, and wild strawberries.
Next Tuesday, the group is scheduled to meet with French President François Hollande, who early in his career made a study of American cuisine.
The Club des Chefs des Chefs was founded in 1977 by French uniform maker Gilles Bragard. Other members attending the Franco-German meeting include chefs from the Kremlin, Buckingham Palace, Israel, the United Nations, and the parliaments of China and South Africa. Their packed schedule includes fine dining, sightseeing and trips to farmers' markets.
Comerford has been Top Toque since 2005, after first joining the White House staff in 1995. She traveled to Moscow with the Club des Chefs des Chefs in 2011, and to Beijing, China and other nearby countries in 2010.
The Club operates under the motto “politics divides men, but a good meal unites them.” It gives those who work in the most high-profile and high-pressure culinary jobs on the planet a chance to bond, exchange ideas, and celebrate the unique benefits of culinary diplomacy. During the group's 30th anniversary in 2007, Comerford, then Executive Chef for President George W. Bush, was in Monaco at the Hotel de Paris for the festivities.
In the family photo above, from left front: Hilton Little, Chef to the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cristeta Comerford, Chef to the President of United States, Bernard Vaussion, Chef to the President of the Republic of France, Christian Garcia, (President of the C.C.C) Chef to His Highness the Prince Albert II of Monaco, Ulrich Kerz, Chef to the Chancellor of Germany and Vakhtang Abushidi, Executif Chef of the Kremlin. (2nd row L-R) Rohan Fernandopulle, Chef in charge of the Official Receptions of Sri Lanka, Magnus Ake Rehbaeck, Chef to His Majesty the King of Sweden, Chef Anton Mosimann, Daryl Schembeck, Chef of United Nations in New York, Shalom Kadosh, Chef in charge of the Official Receptions of Israel, Jesper Vollmer, Chef to Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark, Tim Wasylko, Chef to the Prime Minister of Canada, Gregor Zimmermann, Chef in charge of the Official Receptions, Eckart Witzigmann, Rupert Schnait, Chef in charge of the Official Receptions, Claudio Giuntoli and Federico Iori, Chef of the Quirinal pose for a picture near the Brandenburg Gate on July 19, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.
*Top photo by Reuters, second by Getty