The White House Kitchen: A Behind-the-Scenes Visit

The White House Kitchen: A Behind-the-Scenes Visit

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Janel Laban
Apr 26, 2015
(Image credit: Janel Laban)

During an incredible visit last week to the White House (for a sneak peek at the new Obama state china service), I swung by the kitchen and snapped all the photos I could manage while hearing about the upcoming State Dinner from the two talented women who are in charge of all things culinary for the Obamas. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the kitchen of most famous family in the nation (which was much more compact than expected!)...

(Image credit: Janel Laban)

Here's a snap of the two history-making (they are the first women to hold their positions) chefs who work at the Obama White House: Executive Chef Cris Comerford on the left and Executive Pastry Chef Susan Morrison on the right. In addition to all the regular tasks that feeding the first family and their guests entails, these chefs and their teams are preparing the first meal to be served on the new Obama State China (just revealed today!) at the Japan State Dinner.

(Image credit: Janel Laban)

During my visit, very early initial prep was just getting underway for the state dinner, which is being held tomorrow. It's only the eighth state dinner hosted by the Obamas and a huge undertaking for the kitchen team, but they were remarkably calm, on track and ready to knock it out.

Cris's menu is inspired by the intersection of American and Japanese cuisine and the spring season. It will include with a twist on a caesar-like salad, Cherrywood smoked chicken and fresh seasonal vegetables. Susan's dessert plans will include mochi and will be decorated with hand-made edible pale pink blossoms and gorgeous blown sugar tea pots (see below for glimpses of both).

The "first fridge"!
(Image credit: Janel Laban)
One of just a few spots of color in the all-stainless-steel, all-the-time kitchen is the bright red KitchenAid mixer.
(Image credit: Janel Laban)
The goodie drawers, filled with specialty items such as decorating tips, molds, a tortilla press and the intriguingly labeled "New Stuff!".
(Image credit: Janel Laban)
Cris said the combo stovetops/ovens section is called the "piano".
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The major All-Clad collection, all neatly organized by size.
(Image credit: Janel Laban)
Vulcan ovens below in the "piano", pots and assorted tools hanging above one of the two main prep work stations.
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I have the same rice cooker as the Obamas!
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A retro toaster design which I *think" is a Cuisinart.
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Green drinks made with veggie garden goodness, anyone?
(Image credit: Janel Laban)
So Willy Wonka and wonderful! A hand blown sugar teapot for the upcoming Japan State Dinner.
(Image credit: Janel Laban)
Susan, looking happy with the candy teapot handiwork.
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Susan's edible blossoms will decorate the dessert course of the Japan State Dinner.
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The wood for smoking the chicken for the upcoming state dinner menu.
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Cris Comerford is one very organized chef, as evidenced by this completely up-to-date annual calendar. Note the big circle on this Tuesday to mark the state dinner.
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Cris' kitchen command station.
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Binders filled with the White House menus since 2001. (These would be such an interesting base for a cookbook, right?)
(Image credit: Janel Laban)
One last look back at the overall kitchen layout, which, as you can see, is NOT huge, just very well organized.
(Image credit: Janel Laban)
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