Accessibility links

USA

White House Africa State Dinner is Part of 'Culinary Diplomacy'

  • Reuters

FILE - White House chef Cristeta Comerford holds produce in the kitchen of the White House in Washington.

FILE - White House chef Cristeta Comerford holds produce in the kitchen of the White House in Washington.

A battery of chefs are hard at work in the White House kitchen in preparation for a dinner for nearly 50 heads of state from Africa.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will host the leaders Tuesday evening.

For White House chef Cristeta Comerford, what is delivered to the table is all a part of "culinary diplomacy.''

"Food sends such a wonderful message. You know we have here such a thing [called] culinary diplomacy," she explains. "Because I really do believe if you have a wonderful meal things and conversations are so much better. ''

Backed by about two dozen chefs, Comerford is crafting a meal that
will showcase American food, including produce from the White House garden.

"We are incorporating some of these wonderful vegetables from the [White House] garden, and also some of them are locally-sourced as well. And we are adding these to salads," she explained. "These guys are working on a spring onion that we will be grilling momentarily. So, we are pretty much just highlighting whatever is wonderful and seasonal out there, and things that we think the guests will really, really enjoy.''

While the official menu is still under wraps, Comerford offered a few clues.

"We are also adding a hint of some of the wonderful African spices and different things that would be dear and near to all our guests,'' she said.

For the U.S. Africa Summit, the White House Kitchen faced a logistical challenge.

"We have to take into consideration all of the dietary restrictions, the religious preferences of each country,'' Comerford said. "So a lot of research and hard work are put into everything.''

In some ways the White House kitchen is like many others in the United States, there are notes on the refrigerator, and the size of the kitchen falls well short of an Olympic sized pool.

The kitchen might be small, but it's efficient,'' Comerford noted.

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG