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Nation’s Top Toques Visit White House

Jordan Wright
January 25, 2010
Whisk and Quill

Chef Jean-Pierre Moulle of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA - photo by Jordan Wright

An early morning trip to the White House with a tour by White House Chefs Sam Kass and Cristeta Comerford were just desserts for some of the country’s top toques who flew into Washington, DC this weekend for a noble cause.

Visiting Chef Charles Phan of San Franciscos The Slanted Door - photo by Jordan Wright

Their goal: To raise money for local charities, Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen.

The visit proved auspicious. After torrential rains last night, the dark skies parted and all were greeted with a warm, sunny morning to tour the White House private kitchens and vegetable garden. Alice Waters, who had no small hand in influencing the First Lady to plant the organic garden as a teaching tool for local schoolchildren, was part of the group of stellar chefs. Along the way she noted the small size of the wine closet in comparison to an enormous refrigerator holding a vast supply of soda. She tsk-tsked and a suggestion was made that sodas be done away with in the presidential manse. Do I detect a new initiative?

The previous evening they were paired up with local chefs like Jose Andres, a longtime supporter of DC Central Kitchen; Kaz Okochi of Kaz Sushi Bistro; Bryan Moscatello of Zola and Potenza; Michel Richard of Citronelle; Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve; Nora Poullion of Restaurant Nora’s; Nick Stefanelli of Bibiana; Fabio Trabocchi of DC’s Four Seasons; and DC resident, Joan Nathan, who used her not unsubstantial sway to organize the event she is calling “Sunday Suppers”, pairing up chefs to create their signature dishes at private homes throughout town.

Top toques chow down at the celebration brunch at Potenza - photo by Jordan Wright

Wine selections were arranged by Italian wine journalist Filippo Bartolotta of Le Baccanti, whose suppliers donated dozens of wines (although I heard that some gracious hosts opened up their personal wine cellars to amp up the festivities). Grass-fed Dorset-cross lamb was provided by John and Sukey Jamison from their farm in Latrobe, PA.

Rustic egg bake at Potenza's Brunch Celebration - photo by Jordan Wright

From Berkeley, California, came Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and Co-Chef Jean-Pierre Moulle, who has been cooking beside her for 35 years; from Martha’s Vineyard Chef/Caterer/Culinary Instructor Jan Buhrman of The Kitchen Porch; from The Modern in New York City, Executive Chef Gabriel Kreuther and his Pastry Chef Patrick Clark; and from San Francisco, Charles Phan of The Slanted Door. Chef Elisabeth Bourgeois of Le Mas Tourteron brought her Provencal style from her iconic restaurant in Vaucluse, France. In all there were 23 participating celebrity chefs.

It all culminated in a lavish Italian-style brunch at Potenza where owner/host Dan Mesches and Chef Bryan Moscatello, marshaled their forces to put on a fabulous spread and thank the chefs for their donation of time and talent. It was all very collegial. You just had to be there.

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