There’s an organization for every profession, and one of the world’s most exclusive has to be the Club des Chefs des Chefs – the club for chefs to heads of state. I had a chance to meet many of them last month.
Every year, they meet in a different country. This year they were here in the USA, and twenty chefs from all over the globe were gathered at the National Press Club for lunch and a press conference. Earlier in the day, they had been to the White House, and met President Obama.
The CCC meeting lasts for a week each year, and they don’t just sit around in one place; they had been on a gastronomic tour of the East Coast, from the famous Stone Barns in New York State, through Amish country, to DC. There were planned visits to Union Market, one of Jose Andres’ restaurants, and a burger joint.
They filed into the room, pristine in their chef’s whites. Each jacket had a crest and flag embroidered on it, along with the chef’s name. They took seats at the front, flanking the podium.
The chefs had come straight from lunch. What did Susan Delbert, the Press Club chef (and past and future demo chef at OFAM), feed them? “A simple meal – featuring Virginia bison steak.” Despite being invited to move up to the front, Chef Susan stood in the back throughout the proceedings, until she joined in the group shot at the end.
There were remarks by Myron Belkind, the event host and vice-president of the Press Club; Gilles Bragard, the executive secretary and founder of the CCC; and Christian Garcia, president of the CCC and chef to Prince Albert of Monaco.
We learned about the diplomatic work the CCC is doing, to promote global understanding through food, and that the best food in the world is your mother’s. The job of these men and women is to be true to one’s native cuisine and showcase the products and gastronomy of one’s country; and that if politics divide men, a good table reunites them.
Shalom Kadosh, chef for the President of Israel, spoke of organizing charity dinners in Israel, produced by a kitchen staff composed of half Israeli, half Palestinian chefs. When he prepared a dinner for Shimon Peres and the King of Jordan, he chose, symbolically, a fish which swam in waters between the two countries.
Many questions were directed to Cristeta Comerford, the White House chef.
According to Chef Cristeta, her job is to serve the White House with healthy, fresh, seasonal meals; and no, she is not the only woman in the CCC – there are a few others, but they didn’t come this year. She was gracious, but was not spilling any secrets about the First Family.
For Ferrier Richardson, the chef for the President of Gabon, the best part of the job is getting to know the President and watch him with his family – and getting to meet Pele!
And the best part of my job is getting to meet Chef Cristeta!