Secrets of the White House Kitchen Slideshow
Secrets of the White House Kitchen
The United States doesn’t have its own castles or palaces — we have the White House. The 55,000-square-foot, six-story residence is the center of the U.S. government’s executive branch. Not only does the president work there, but he also resides there with the First Family. Because the White House is a working office in addition to a home, it follows that the place has a massive housekeeping staff and kitchen staff that keep the White House running like clockwork.
The White House kitchen staff has an important job: feeding the president and his family. In addition to the everyday meals, snacks, and drinks, the kitchen is also responsible for state dinners and other important gatherings, like the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. So they need to be prepared — at any moment — to host huge parties for the president and other important international figureheads. But how do they do it all?
Some First Families Are Pickier Than Others
Because of often archaic gender roles, managing the White House kitchen staff has traditionally fallen on the First Lady. Some wives embrace the role; Mamie Eisenhower was very involved in state dinner menu planning. Other First Ladies, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Melania Trump, have been less interested in the day-to-day duties and allow the staff to do as they will.
The Current Executive Chef Is a Trailblazer
Cristeta Comerford has been the executive chef at the White House for 12 years. She is the first woman to hold the role and the first Asian person. She was born in the Philippines and emigrated to the U.S. in 1985, when she was 23 years old.
The Food Is Screened by the FBI
Because the president is kind of an important guy, his food is carefully monitored before it’s served to him. International food is shipped to a staffer’s address so no one knows who the final recipient is, room service is sent to a companion’s hotel suite, and staff members do the grocery shopping. Outside food is not permitted inside the White House.
The Kitchen Can Serve a Large Party at Any Given Moment
At the drop of a hat, the White House kitchen is able to serve a dinner to 140 guests. If the president and family are hosting a larger affair, they’re able to serve hors d’oeuvres to upwards of 1,000 people.
The President Pays for His Own Food
There’s no need to worry, taxpayers! You aren’t paying for the president’s daily dinners and midday snacks. At the end of every month, the first family is given a grocery bill and must pay the tab themselves.
The Staff Caters to the President’s Every Need
The longer a president is in office, the better the staff gets to know his every whim. For instance, Donald Trump gets extra sauce at dinner while the rest of his diners get the normal amount. He also gets two scoops of ice cream.
There Are Actually Multiple Kitchens
Of the 132 rooms in the White House, three of them are kitchens. In addition to the main kitchen, the White House also boasts a pastry kitchen and a “family kitchen” in the Executive Residence for casual breakfasts and meals that the first family can enjoy together.
Turnover Between Presidents Is Intense
The peaceful transition of power takes place every four years on January 20, and until noon that day, the White House staff still serves the sitting commander-in-chief. After that, though, they have six hours to turn over the White House and prepare it for a new president. The pantry is cleared out as one president’s snacks are thrown out in favor of another’s.
You Can’t Get a Job There
It should be no surprise, but open positions for White House staffers aren’t posted on LinkedIn. Instead, jobs in the White House kitchen are filled by other staff members recommending people they know for positions. Some families have worked in the White House for generations, with jobs being passed on from one family member to another. If this isn’t enough White House knowledge for you, click here to find out the favorite foods of 15 U.S. presidents.