Chicago chef, Mexican cuisine guru, and longtime hometown favorite of the Obamas, Rick Bayless, will be a guest chef for the White House's upcoming state dinner honoring Mexico and its president Felipe Calderón on May 19. This is the White House's second state dinner, and their second celebrity guest chef for one (Marcus Samuelsson guest cheffed the White House's first state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November).
The Obamas have long frequented Bayless' renowned Mexican dining institutions in Chicago, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, and Bayless also runs Xoco in the Windy City.
"This is probably the biggest honor I've ever had," Bayless told the Times. "I still can't believe I'm doing this," he added.
On Twitter, Rick Bayless announced the Times story on the White House's invitation and Mexico state dinner plans, and shares a recipe for one of the dishes he'll be preparing for the evening -- a green ceviche with cucumber.
The Times gives some other interesting details on the mechanics and logistics of the 200-person White House dinner:
To compound the complexity, the guest chef cannot order ingredients himself. It must be done by the White House executive chef from sources that are kept secret for security reasons. (When any president eats away from the White House, a tester is in the kitchen to guard against poisoning.) Officials said no to Mr. Bayless's request that he be allowed to make two or three long-simmering, complex sauces ahead of time and ship them frozen to the White House where they could be tested. So Mr. Bayless and crew will be coming to Washington two days earlier than planned to begin preparing a 28-ingredient Oaxacan black mole.
The White House kitchen garden will supply parsley, chives, lettuce, arugula, radishes and mint for the menu, which also includes a green-herb ceviche similar to one found in Mr. Bayless's next cookbook, "Fiesta at Rick's," to be published in July. Dessert, incorporating local strawberries, will be prepared by the White House pastry chef, Bill Yosses, after consultation with Mr. Bayless.
Chef Rick Bayless was rumored as a potential choice for the Obama White House chef position, but the first couple instead retained existing White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, who will also be in the kitchen with Bayless on May 19.
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