About a week ago I tweeted that I was going to work in the White House one day. I didn’t say as what but I meant as a pastry chef. I read an article in the New York Times earlier this month about the current White House pastry chef and how he has also recently acquired the title of White House beekeeper and weeder. Mrs. Obama wants to set an example for healthier American eating and is trying to find alternatives or ways to lower sugar intake. After reading the article, I was curious to find out more about being a pastry chef in the White House, especially since it was noted in the article that the current one has only been working there since 2004. To my delight there was a book by the previous pastry chef telling of his life journey and how he ended up there. Here it is:
All the Presidents’ Pastries: Twenty-Five Years in the White House by Roland Mesnier, with Christian Malard
I just finished reading it and I must say, I am really inspired, though immensely intimidated as well. Realistically, I don’t actually think I will ever work in the White House; my tweet was just a far-fetched dream. But dang, I have so much respect for Roland Mesnier. He is the man. Pretty much a rags-to-riches story. He’s served Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. Some people don’t realize this, but chefs, and especially pastry chefs have to be knowledgeable about a lot of things. After all, everyone needs to eat and you got to be sensible in the food you serve. Mesnier was a genius when it came to serving the First Family and all the powerful, important leaders that passed through the White House. Whenever a dignitary was expected, or there was a big celebration to prepare for, he always did massive amounts of research to creative beautiful and delicious desserts that would honor the dignitary’s home country or would be exceptionally appropriate for the occasion. He put so much thought into his creations, and even more so when making cakes for birthdays or weddings of the First Family.
Mesnier didn’t say much about political affairs (and other affairs) in his memoir, but he certainly expressed the tensions felt in the White House when the media’s ever-so-scrutinizing eye was upon them, waiting for them to mess up big time. He has an incredibly impressive resume and has felt the pressure of seemingly impossible tasks (such as making desserts to serve a party of 800, or coming up with a buffet of sweets within a half-hour notice), yet through all his accomplishments he has remain extremely humble.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be as amazing as he is, but I hope to get close.