February 07, 2005
White House Dish: Chef Not to Laura’s Taste
After 11 years as White House chef, Walter Scheib III has been pushed out of the kitchen by First Lady Laura Bush. While Scheib says he wants to leave on a positive note, insiders say that the 'top toque' was unhappy at the Bush's insistence that he give up all French recipes and cooking techniques, and create an elaborate inaugural menu paying tribute to the brand names of a dozen top Bush campaign and GOP donors.
With Lea Berman at the helm, more 'donor dinners' expected
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC—After 11 years as the chief chef of the White House, Walter Scheib 3rd is taking off his toque, collecting his knives, and moving on. In a statement to the press, the chef acknowledged that he had been fired due to an inability to meet the stylistic requirements of the first lady.
Mr. Scheib's removal is part of a comprehensive makeover of the social wing of the White House. Former White House social secretary Cathy Fenton was recently replaced by Lea Berman, a prominent Washington DC entertainer. Ms. Berman is expected to be involved in all aspects of White House entertaining, from food, to flowers and other decorations.
A bad taste
While Mr. Scheib was gracious in his parting words, saying that it had been an honor to serve the first lady, sources close to the chef say that his relationship with the first family had grown increasingly tense since he was asked to stop using French recipes and cooking techniques after France refused to support the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Asking a chef schooled in the culinary tradition of Escoffier to forego béchamel and beurre blanc is a major sacrifice, says historian Will Anthony, the author of a forthcoming book on the chefs who've served the White House. "It would be the equivalent of telling the president of the United States that he could never eat his beloved barbecue again," says Anthony.
Tensions were further exacerbated, say sources close to the chef, by White House orders that Scheib create a special inaugural menu to honor the brand names represented by more than a dozen top GOP and Bush campaign donors. Scheib was reportedly vocal about his unhappiness over having to create dishes that featured such ingredients as Coca-Cola, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Pilgrim's Pride Whole Butter Basted Turkeys.
Money on the menu
The menu that Scheib ultimately composed, served at three candlelight inaugural dinners, is a testimony to the chef's ingenuity. He brined the Pilgrim's Pride turkeys in Coca-Cola, before stuffing them with sweet-and-savory stuffing made from Dunkin Donuts old-fashioned cake doughnuts. (Pilgrim CEO Lonnie Pilgrim was a Bush pioneer in 2004, pledging to bring in more than $100,000 in contributions to the Bush/Cheney campaign, while Dunkin Donut is a long-time GOP contributor). (Click thumbnail to enlarge menu image.)
Also on the menu: Cedar Plank "Pacific Seafoods" Sockeye Salmon in "Dole Pineapple" Sauce, inspired by Bush campaign Pioneers Frank Dulcich, CEO of Pacific Seafoods, and David H. Murdock, Chair and CEO of Dole Food Co. And for dessert: more doughnuts. For the final course, Scheib paired Krispy Kreme "Snow Balls" with Nestlé "Nesquik" Hot Fudge Sauce and Asher's Chocolate Covered Mini-Pretzles, a dish that was inspired by Pioneers Joe M. Weller, Chair & CEO of Nestle USA, and Robert Asher, Chair of Ashers Candies, and by Krispy Kreme Donuts, which gave more than $90,000 to the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004.
A new direction
It's unclear what impact the departure of Chef Scheib will have on the kind of food being served at official White House functions. But the appointment of Ms. Berman as social secretary seems to indicate that the White House plans to continue shaping meals and menus to honor major Bush donors. Ms. Berman's husband, Wayne Berman, is a long-time GOP fundraiser.
Scheib hasn't said what his future plans are. Before becoming chief chef at the White House, Scheib cooked at the Capitol Hilton in Washington and at the Boca Raton Club in Boca Raton, FL. Historian Anthony says that regardless of any bitterness between the chef and the first family, Scheib likely has a bright future ahead of him. "Former White House chefs have gone on to do great things. Look at Verdon and Mesnier," says Anthony. "Scheib has proven that he can pretty much do anything. Where else are they going to tell him he can't use a mirepoix and that he has to come up with dishes out of Coke and doughnuts?"
Coca-Cola brined Pilgrim's Pride turkey with Dunkin Donuts old-fashioned cake doughnut sweet and savory stuffing*
1 1/4 cups salt
1 quart Coca-Cola
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
1 10- to 12-pound Pilgrim's Pride Whole Butter Basted Turkey
1. Place salt and Coca-Cola in a large deep pot and whisk until salt crystals dissolve. Whisk in 4 quarts cold water. Pin bay leaves to onion halves with cloves and add them to brine. Let mixture cool to room temperature.
2. Add Pilgrim's Pride turkey, placing a large heavy pot or sealed zip-top bag filled with cold water on top to keep bird submerged in Coca-Cola. Place pot in refrigerator and marinate overnight.
Dunkin Donuts old-fashioned cake doughnut sweet and savory stuffing
6 cups Dunkin Donuts old-fashioned cake doughnuts, chopped
2 cups diced onion
1/2 cup butter
2 cups cranberries
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/2 tablespoon dried sage
1 cup chicken broth
Cook onion in butter or margarine over low heat until soft. Add doughnuts, cranberries, rosemary and sage, chicken broth, salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently but thoroughly.
Remove Pilgrim's Pride turkey from Coca-Cola brine. Thoroughly rinse turkey under a slow stream of cool water, rubbing gently to release salt and soda residue, both inside and out. Pat skin and both interior cavities dry.
Remove neck and giblets. Begin lightly spooning doughnut stuffing into the neck cavity, then into the body cavity. After the bird has been stuffed, secure the legs to the tail. If the band of skin is not present, tie the legs securely to the tail with string. Twist the wing tips under the back of the turkey so they won't overcook.
Roast turkey, breast side down, in a preheated 325 degree F oven for 2 hours. During this time, baste legs and back twice with Coca-Cola.
*Recipe provided courtesy of White House kitchen.
Deanna Swift can be reached at email@example.com.
February 7, 2005 | Permalink
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» Nothing Says Taste... from The Republic of T.
The more I learn about the Bush administration, the more embarrassed I am to be an American. Imagine, for a moment, having a classically trained, french chef at your disposal, to make anything that you wanted. What might you ask him or her to make? I'... [Read More]
Tracked on Feb 7, 2005 8:57:31 AM
» Corporatist Kitchen from Just a Bump in the Beltway
White House Dish: Chef Not to Laura’s Taste After 11 years as White House chef, Walter Scheib III has been pushed out of the kitchen by First Lady Laura Bush. While Scheib says he wants to leave on a positive... [Read More]
Tracked on Feb 7, 2005 11:18:57 AM
» Indignant Hero from DCFUD
Thanks lots to Skunkeye for this link about firing Walter Scheib III, the whitehouse cheff. Apparenlty, he was already angry about being told that using french recipes and cooking techniques is unpatriotic... and being forced to "honor the brand names... [Read More]
Tracked on Feb 12, 2005 11:53:02 AM
» Know a Good Cook? from ThinkingInPictures
The White House is currently in the market for a new chef, since Laura Bush has fired the chief chef, Walter Scheib III. While Mr. Scheib was gracious in his parting words, saying that it had been an honor to... [Read More]
Tracked on Feb 14, 2005 4:45:35 PM
» you are what you et from Edgewise
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Tracked on Feb 24, 2005 1:49:15 AM
Tracked on Feb 24, 2005 4:08:19 PM
It's a myth (maybe started here?) that Walter Scheib was fired for using French techniques, although the notion is quite humorous. For anyone interested, he gives all of the details in his book, White House Chef. In it he speaks rather highly of Laura Bush, btw.
What make this myth more funny is that if you know anything about Walter Scheib you know that he's a fanatic America's unique cuisine and cooking technique.
Posted by: Samantha | Oct 28, 2006 1:24:35 AM
Thanks for telling me the names of the big Bush donors; now I can boycott their products. The article further illuminates the Bush mentality, that sickening dishes geared toward contributors means more than a good meal to them. What stupidity we find in the White House! Further, to ban all foods with a French connection is proposterous. The Bushes know very little about fine dining. Laura Bush was wrong, wrong, wrong to fire Chef Walter Scheib, but he can be happy to be out of that stifling situation with the Bushes dictating what he can serve. Best of luck to him!
Posted by: Anne | Jul 18, 2006 2:05:44 AM
More BUSH incompetence...and NOW the first lady . She belongs in a library NOT in the White House. Geepers maybe she could TEACH her husband GRAMMAR in Texas or better yet send her to IRAQ. English lessons needed. Please remove these two liars! PLZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Posted by: truthneededNOW | Mar 26, 2006 7:25:43 PM
WS...just heard, sorry . But then again, always expected this from them...all of them. Wish the best.
At least now you can cook good food again instead of PP&J.
Posted by: Garde Manger Alan | Mar 11, 2005 6:26:08 PM
Laura Bush needs chef Jason Blankenship. His TexMex Mom's Nacho Porkchops are to die for. He is a Texan and knows jalepeno's inside and out!!!
Posted by: sheilablankenship | Feb 20, 2005 6:38:47 PM
That's the height of idiotic pettiness for Bushette to fire a Chef because he's Escoffier trained. Though it's not surprising that her icy meanspiritedness underneath all that southern drawl is bound to surface for all to see. It's evident that Walter Scheib 3rd tried his best to cook the inaugur. meals by using a bunch of products that shouldn't be used in the same sentence with the word Cuisine.
Posted by: Anne | Feb 18, 2005 10:12:34 PM
I suppose that you are indeed what you eat.
Posted by: R.D. Warren | Feb 17, 2005 8:17:42 PM
W'll, its all about good ol' Amer-can vay-yoos. The Pres'dent an his wife don' need no fancy French food. Besides, tha' Coke Turkey an' Dunkin' Donuts soun's good to me. An' I bet that all you Blue State, gay marriage-supportin', Jacques Kerry-lovin' folks probab'ly still eat French fries. Hey! It's Freedom Fries for me, with plenny of ketchup.
Posted by: Potter | Feb 17, 2005 7:45:47 PM
He needed to be fired because he was hired by Hillary because she had to have French food everyday. Scre the French and their food....good ridance
Posted by: Carl Rogue | Feb 16, 2005 7:22:06 PM
The Bushies have lost it. I think the Democratic party should mail these "menus" to swing voters in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Let them know that big money rules the White House.
The theme "You are what you eat."
Posted by: Joseph | Feb 14, 2005 9:56:44 AM
NO BRAINS AND NO TASTE tend to go hand in hand...
Posted by: Sally H. | Feb 12, 2005 6:31:33 PM
This shows that the simple minded Bush Family literally has Poor Taste. Get this man impeached now, so he can feast on coca-cola and donuts.
They probably have a goodie bag of tex-mex when they travel because they do not appreciate cuisine.
Posted by: new mexico light | Feb 12, 2005 1:00:24 PM
#1. The gentleman is better off, anybody can cook tater tots.
#2. Didn't republicans DEMAND one of their very many investigations for firing whitehouse staff?
#3. I'm still boycotting pizza hut for rush in a cuddly moment (shiver) eating from the right side of the crust, thanks for the new boycott list.
Posted by: Cindy Schneider | Feb 10, 2005 12:15:36 AM
I had posted about it too but apparently it is a satire... a really really good one though.
http://cucinatestarossa.blogs.com/weblog/2005/01/white_house_ina.html (among others)
Posted by: martha | Feb 9, 2005 1:30:37 PM
Fricasee of Texas roadkilll?
Posted by: Pye | Feb 8, 2005 4:23:39 PM
Exactly what are Laura Bush's "stylistic requirements"? Barbecued 'possum and gopher?
Posted by: Audrey Lundberg | Feb 8, 2005 12:34:54 PM
It's satire, right? Please tell me this is a joke....
Posted by: Leila | Feb 7, 2005 11:34:52 PM
What a #$^^$%@#@ moron!!!!!
Posted by: Rex Burnett | Feb 7, 2005 4:39:13 PM
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