Though the two provided assistance at state dinners in the past, White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses will be helming the kitchen themselves tonight. They’ll also be bucking the precedent set when the aforementioned chefs served chutney and curry to the Indian Prime Minister and Oaxacan Black Mole and jicama to the President of Mexico.
Tonight’s menu, at the request of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s delegation, will be an all-American feast featuring last summer’s harvest of honey and produce from the White House’s kitchen garden.
This evening’s guest list may be slightly trimmed down – 225 attendees, down from the aforementioned dinner’s 230-plus - but meat and potatoes remain on the menu, albeit very carefully sourced.
Thyme, rosemary and sage (shielded from the elements by hoop houses in the White House garden) accent vegetables from Huron, Ohio-based The Chef’s Garden. The purveyor, per a White House press release, "reflects the best of the country’s agriculture: sustainability, affordability, and healthy, delicious foods," mirroring the agenda set by First Lady Michelle Obama. Fresh fish canapes, not listed on the menu, highlight Northern shrimp from Ipswich Bay, Massachusetts and smoked fillets from rainbow trout raised in Idaho.
The traditional venue has also been shifted to accommodate the musical stylings of twelve-time Grammy Award winner Herbie Hancock, trumpeter Chris Botti, four-time vocalists Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater, "hottest artist on the classical music planet" (per the New York Times), Lang Lang - all under the aegis of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. They'll be jazzing it up in the East Room after dinner is served in the Blue Room, Red Room, and State Dining Room.
This will be the Obamas' third state dinner - and the third such invitation turned down by House Speaker John Boehner. Perhaps expected guests Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Olympic skating champion Michelle Kwan, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, actor Jackie Chan, the legendary Barbra Streisand or her husband, actor James Brolin can arm-wrestle over his dessert.
Delve deeper into the Chinese president's visit to Washington at CNN Politics - who helped a heck of a lot with this report.