Obama's Favorite Chefs React to His Re-Election

Rick Bayless, Tony Mantuano, and the folks behind Ben's Chili Bowl share their election stories


While Obama's re-election might have shocked and angered a couple of pro-Romney voters, it seems like President Obama's favorite chefs and restarauteurs are fairly pleased with the election results.

"I think it’s pretty well known that I’m an Obama supporter and I was concerned that he hadn’t had the opportunity to fully realize all the programs he is working on," Rick Bayless of Chicago favorite Topolobampo told The Daily Meal in an email. "So, in a nut shell, I was relieved when his win was announced."

Meanwhile, Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia (where the Obamas celebrated their anniversary in 2008) was watching the election at his new restaurant Bar Toma with a crowd. "The evening started out with most everyone quiet and anxious then turned into a much looser and celebratory crowd. I have to admit I was apprehensive at first, but I’ll never doubt Nate Silver again," Mantuano told us. "We were all surprised with how early it was called."

The biggest scene was probably at Ben's Chili Bowl and Ben's Next Door in Washington, D.C., where people were crowding into Ben's Next Door to watch the election. "I think there was a sense of nervousness to a certain degree. The numbers were so incredibly close," co-owner Sonya Ali told The Daily Meal. "I think a lot of people’s fear was that there would be another Gore/Bush scenario. [When Obama won] the place erupted."

In fact, revelers stayed in the local hot spot to celebrate. "We couldn’t get people to leave... I mean, people were hugging and dancing and laughing and high-fiving and chanting, 'Four more years,'" Ali said. "It was unreal. Out on U street people just spilled into the street and traffic was literally at a standstill. At one point a Metro bus was surrounded and it couldn’t move."

At California pizza place Casa Bianca, where Obama was known to frequent for Hawaiian pizza slices while in college, the mood was much more subdued. "I wasn’t watching because I was working," co-owner Andrea Martorana told us. "It was a little slow because of the election, we had a lot of takeout orders, and we have a small TV in the back room." But the results didn't surprise Martorana at all. "I was pretty sure that he was going to win, just by watching TV and talking to people," she said.

As for Obama's Chicago mainstay MacArthur's, election night was a bit more jubilant. "We brought monitors in for that night," MacArthur's manager Sharon McKennie said. "Everyone was rooting for him and saying, 'Oh he’s gonna win, it’s going to be tight but he’s gonna win.' Everyone had faith that he was going to pull through."

The MacArthur's staff, mostly all pro-Obama, believe they'll serve the president again, although he probably won't be dining in. "We haven’t seen him since he’s been in the White House," McKennie said, "but he has gotten carry-out orders. We understand his schedule, we know he’ll be back when he can. He’s been around with us for while."


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