Chef Dan Barber is in the Obama spotlight again as First Lady makes her second visit to the organic farm for a brunch co-hosted by top campaign bundlers...
UPDATE, July 15: CLICK HERE for a post about the event
First Lady Michelle Obama will make a second visit to the organic farming paradise that is Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York, this Sunday, July 15, for a fundraising brunch reception. It will be held at the Center's restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns; co-owner and Executive Chef Dan Barber is much loved by the Obamas, and cooked a special luncheon for the First Lady in 2010, and a Date Night Dinner for the First Couple in 2009. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Barber, left, lead guests on a tour of the farm in 2010)
Ticket prices for the 10:30 AM event at the chic, seasonal eatery housed in a dramatic Norman-style building situated against a backdrop of pastureland begin at $1,500 per person and go up to $25,000 for VIP status. About 100 guests are expected, according to a campaign official. Co-hosts are a couple who are top bundlers for President Obama: Interior designer Michael Smith, who re-decorated both the White House residence and the Oval Office, and his partner James Costos, an HBO executive. They have hosted numerous prior fundraisers, in Los Angeles and New York.
Also co-hosting is Margaret Russell, editor of Architectural Digest, who most recently threw a Manhattan fundraiser for the President in mid-June.
Mrs. Obama's first visit to the showcase 80-acre organic farm and education center located about half an hour from the Big Apple made global headlines on September 24, 2010, when she hosted a a farm-to-table luncheon for 31 spouses of world leaders attending the 65th United Nations General Assembly. Barber, one of America's foremost chefs, is a multiple James Beard Award winner and a 2009 "Time 100" honoree. He was joined in his kitchen by the White House chefs. (Above: Mrs. Obama and local kids check out herbs at Stone Barns before the luncheon
Barber is now an appointed member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, the only chef to be named to the advisory group. He has visited the White House for Let's Move! events, and he has also appeared at food policy conferences with Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, who has credited Barber as an inspiration for his own work.
"I met Dan before we came to the White House," Mrs. Obama told her UN luncheon guests.
"And he actually cooked for my husband and I, and he didn’t know why he was being called to Chicago, but it was one of the best dinners and after that I fell in love with Dan."
Thus Barber's second Blue Hill restaurant, in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, was where President Obama escorted his wife for a Date Night Dinner on May 30, 2009. The evening outing, which included a Broadway show, fulfilled a campaign promise Candidate Obama had made to his wife. (Above: The President and Mrs. Obama on the way to their NY date)
An agriculture expert, Barber has also advised Mrs. Obama on her White House Kitchen Garden. Bounty from the garden was brought to Stone Barns for the UN luncheon, and Barber and Kass, joined by Executive Chef Cris Comerford and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses--and some thrilled third graders--cooked a simple but beautiful menu. Mrs. Obama and Barber led the guests on a walking tour of the lush, rolling pastures of the farm before the luncheon, which included meeting the hens who had laid the eggs used for the meal and a visit to the herb garden.
Stone Barns, a non-profit, received a $735,130 grant from USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program for fiscal year 2011.
Proceeds from Sunday's brunch benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint committee that raises funds for Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.
President Obama will also be on the campaign trail this weekend, with a visit to Virginia on Saturday. Next week, he visits Ohio and Texas.
*Top photo courtesy of Stone Barns; second by Obama Foodorama; third by pool