09/12/2012 11:20 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Rhubarbgate: White House Pastry Chef Admits Not All Vegetables Started In Kitchen Garden

Food writer Marian Burros dug up a good deal of dirt when she moderated a panel at last week's annual gathering of the Association of Food Journalists in Washington, D.C. Burros, who has covered the White House kitchen since Lyndon B. Johnson was president, shared her excellent account on web site Obama Foodorama.

rhubarb white house

Perhaps the most interesting revelation was one by former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier, one of the most outspoken of 1600 Pennsylvania's kitchen alums.

Mesnier brought up a picture of rhubarb in Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden, airing doubt that they had actually been grown there -- they were the size of rhubarb that been growing for at least three to four years. "I know something about rhubarb and someone is not telling the truth," Mesnier said.

Current White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses admitted that Mesnier was in fact right:

“You have totally caught Rhubarbgate,” Yosses responded as the audience roared. “A farmer brought us big rhubarb plants” to start the garden; “we had a lot of help from many parts of Washington, D.C. ”

According to Yosses, not only are a lot of plants for the Kitchen Garden sprouted in a greenhouse, but there is also “a nursery that is part of our support system, and that includes additional farmer friends.”

So there you have it. Rhubarbgate 2012. Reactions around the web have been few -- word doesn't seem to have gotten out yet -- but they've been amused rather than outraged. Food writer China Millman definitely had a good laugh:

The White House Kitchen Garden, an effort spearheaded by the First Lady, is the first vegetable patch at 1600 Pennsylvania since Eleanor Roosevelt's victory garden during World War II. This past March was the garden's fourth annual spring planting.

UPDATE: The White House would not respond to a request for comment.



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