Obamas - First State Dinner

Obamas - First State Dinner

Obamas Host State Dinner

A party in the White House for 320 guests hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama took place tonight, amidst great fanfare and worldwide interest. It’s two days before Thanksgiving with much thanks going on in Washington D.C. by those invited to this coveted event of the year. The Obamas hosted India’s Prime Minister Monmohan Singh, accompanied by his wife, Gursharan Kaur wearing a sari, as did several other female guests in homage to India. Michelle Obama looked radiant in her dress by designer Naeem Khan, with the President beaming in a tux (both accessorized by joyous smiles). The First Lady was busy reacquainting the public with remembering that first families can be fun. Like First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy before her, she cares to serve nutritional meals to her kids that during the Kennedy years prompted herbs in flower beds, with some vegetables grown on the roof, according to Kennedy White House Chef René Verdon (here wearing a top chefs toque). For those who don’t know, a chef toque is the tall white hat proudly worn for distinction of expertise rating (in some places still worn today). Currently, restaurant staff don’t wear health regulated prevention measures for hair to be kept neatly away from food. When stray hair lands in my plate I’m nostalgic for those years.

Chief John F. Kennedy with Chef Rene Verden - Kennedy Presidential Library

Chief John F. Kennedy with Chef Rene Verden - Kennedy Presidential Library

We provide TOP CHEFS to our clients worldwide and know how complex and difficult their jobs are working for high profile people with an intense schedule and social calendar. Until the very last second there are always some unexpected changes needing to be accommodated. In her speech Mrs. Obama informed the world a guest chef, Marcus Samuellson (one of the finest in the country) cooked the dinner. The First Lady elaborated in detail how White House Chef Cristeta Comerford and White House Pastry Chef William Yosses previewed the menu with Samuelsson in the White House Kitchen. Marcus along with the entire kitchen staff were working on the dinner menu. A winning approach to combine tandem chefs for a great creative outcome. Marcus Samuelsson, chef/co-owner of the restaurant Aquavit, has already received more accolades then most chefs do in a lifetime. The old adage of “A family that eats together stays together” imparts great wisdom. At ISA we’ve placed many top chefs with our high profile, VIP clientele (see ISA past clients Presidents Ford and Reagan at our Domestic Staffing website gallery page), who regularly host important events including state dinners. Food well prepared, beautifully presented, and deeply enjoyed, is a ritual foundation peace maker.

Obamas with India's PM Singh and wife Mrs. KuraA poignant choice to celebrate India at his first state dinner. The Kennedys first was honoring Pakistan. President Obama stated in part welcoming Prime Minister Singh: “Your visit, at this pivotal moment in history, speaks to the opportunity before us to build the relationship between our nations … into one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.” Singh responded with deep regard for Obama, stating: “Your journey to the White House has captured the imagination of millions and millions of people in India. You are an inspiration to all those who cherish the values of democracy, diversity and equal opportunity.” Singh relayed this to loud applause before toasting his host. President Obama further hailed India as “indispensable” to global security and prosperity.

White House Photos and the Presidents welcome quotes courtesy of Reuters (Michele Obama’s welcome speech at The Chicago Suntimes). It was an important statement for President Obama to host the first State Dinner honoring India rather then China, despite its financial support to America during this economic debacle. India is an ally of the US with joint interests including a Space Program. Our planet’s well being must be a combined endeavor to open new pathways to a Cosmic frontier, a new vision necessary to replace old paradigms.

White House State Dinner - Vintage

White House State Dinner - Vintage

Below is the menu served on this eventful evening which included music with some of our favorite tunes in jazz. Entertainment was provided by Jennifer Hudson, AR Rahman, Bay Area Empire Bhangra, Kurt Elling, and Marvin Hamlisch. The menu of Indian and American favorites combined with several excellent wines was rife with typos. A huge error for a state dinner, as the New York Times noted. I’ve inserted the corrected spelling including one NYT missed; the word sauvignon (first course wine), was also misspelled. TIP- always spellcheck your menu to ensure this embarrassment doesn’t happen. I rely on spellcheck daily (much to my dismay), unless transmitting on the fly from cell phone. If it’s your job to oversee things for your employer don’t send even an email unless you’ve spellchecked. That said, I’m always making spelling/grammar/punctuation errors due to my dyslexia (apology to the English language).


Potato and Eggplant Salad
White House Arugula w/ Onion Seed Vinaigrette
served with 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Modus Operandi, Napa Valley

Red Lentil Soup w Fresh Cheese
2006 Riesling, Brooks “Ara”, Willamette Valley
Roast Potato Dumplings w Tomato Chutney
Chickpeas and Okra or Green Curry Prawns, with caramelized Salsify & smoke Collard Greens, coconut aged basmati

served with 2007 Grenache Beckman Vineyards, Santa Ynez, CA

Pumpkin pie tart, Pear tatin
Whipped Cream and Caramel sauce
served with Sparkling Chardonnay, Thibaut-Janisson Brut, Monticello, VA

Petits fours and Coffee
Cashew Brittle, Pecan Pralines
Passion fruit and vanilla geleés
Chocolate dipped fruit

Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, Jeffry Katzenberg on the cover of TIME magazine

top to bottom: Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, Jeffry Katzenberg. Photo courtesy and copyright: TIME magazine

Several ISA clients were invited for this important event, among which are three featured in TIME magazine as key players in Hollywood. All three of whom have homes running with top loyal staff of many years duration. Nothing is more satisfying for us then to have a staff of people working in a home we placed many years ago, who become extended members of the client’s family. One thing missing we would have liked to see happen at the Obama’s Administration State Dinner (which unfortunately didn’t take place but perhaps will in the future), is the transparency promised. Having the entire event live streamed for the world to enjoy would have capped the evening into a historical event. How about it, shouldn’t we all “go to the White House for dinner” when it’s American taxpayers who support these costly events?  Absolutely!

Good to know we still have a wonderfully elegant White House, with great parties hosted to remind everyone how to have fun and deal with a world crisis simultaneously. We at ISA, know this involves a sense of humor and grace among several other things requiring minute detail and precise planning to accomplish. For those who disagree, our TIP for today to those nay-sayers: laugh and enjoy, and give thanks that we all have so much to be thankful for. A grim outlook does nothing to lift the spirit.

Have A Happy Thanksgiving!

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