03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

JFK's Chef: "The Kennedys Were Very Sophisticated About Food"

It seems that the fascination with the Obamas' eating habits, from their garden to their Vineyard munchies, to the menu for the upcoming state dinner is unprecedented, but they're hardly the first first couple to bring a sense of culinary awareness to the White House. JFK's chef René Verdon remembered his boss's affinity for foodstuffs.

"The Kennedys were very sophisticated about food," Mr. Verdon told the New York Times. "They liked to eat well, and they understood the meaning of good taste."

He pointed specifically to the July 11, 1961 state dinner for the president of Pakistan, which Jackie chose to hold under a tent at Mount Vernon, 16 miles from the White House.

"This was a very big challenge," Mr. Verdon commented, with an exaggerated shrug of the shoulders and a wide grin. "We had to cook everything at the White House and then carry it to Mount Vernon," he said.


The President and Mrs. Kennedy attend a dinner July 11, 1961 at Mt. Vernon in honor of the President of Pakistan. (Photo courtesy of Kennedy Library Archives/Newsmakers)

The menu consisted of avocado and crab meat mimosa, poulet chasseur (chicken in a sauce of shallots, mushrooms and tomatoes), fresh vegetables and herbs with rice, raspberries in Chantilly cream, and petits fours dipped in chocolate.

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