Wednesday, November 21, 2012

White House Chefs Explain Thanksgiving To World In State Dept's Culinary Diplomacy Video

As part of Sec. Clinton's American Chef Corps project, Kass & Comerford demo holiday recipes & discuss regional traditions...
The State Department hosted an online livestream earlier this month to explain American holiday traditions to viewers around the world.  Titled Live From America! A Taste of Thanksgiving, the hour-plus program spotlighted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's recently launched Culinary Diplomacy Partnership.  The two premier members of the inaugural American Chef Corps, White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and Assistant Chef Sam Kass were joined for the food fest by noted chefs Art Smith of DC's Art and Soul restaurant and Richard Hetzler, Executive Chef at the Museum of the American Indian.   (Above, Kass in the dark blue jacket that is the Corps uniform)

The action included recipe demonstrations at the historic Blair House, President Obama's guest quarters located across the street from the White House.  Chief of Protocol Patricia Penavic Marshall introduced the presentation, then Kass moderated as the chefs cooked Smith's recipes, including roast turkey and gravy, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, and fruit chutney. They also answered questions from the global viewers.  Of course there was a question about President Obama's favorite dessert.

"Pie is his favorite dessert and he is unashamed," Kass said, laughing.  "And although it's the Thanksgiving tradition, we carry that tradition throughout the year, and we're all very thankful."

The President's Thanksgiving 2012 menu includes six kinds of pie, and it is served at every holiday, including for the President's birthday.

Kass opened by proclaiming Thanksgiving his favorite time of the year, and explained the origins of America's traditions, noting that Thanksgiving has become a diverse food holiday thanks to the many cultures that make up the nation's melting pot population.

"Next to a Thanksgiving turkey may be tamales, couscous or sauerkraut," Kass said, but later added that Thanksgiving is "the one day the entire country is all eating basically the same meal."

"It really helps bring people together and connect us in a way that there's sort of no other moment that's like that," Kass said.

There were plenty of other questions, including about the White House Kitchen Garden and cooking technique.

The State Department formally launched the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership in September, a project designed to deploy American chefs as diplomatic emissaries around the globe.  There are fifty members of the 2012 American Chef Corps.  Above: The chefs sit down to eat the Thanksgiving feast at the end of the video; from left Kass, Hetzler, Comerford, and Smith.

*Click here for links to all posts about Thanksgiving 2012, including recipes and the Turkey Pardon.