Holiday Dinners at the White House

The holiday season is a time of nonstop entertaining at the White House. There was always a series of large dinners for friends and family, and each meal was specially created for that evening, with unique flowers, table settings, and menu cards. Entertainment was provided by one of the excellent military musical groups who performed regularly at the White House. I wanted to share some of the beautiful calligraphy work that was done for these holiday dinners. The little hand-colored […]


Today! A Recipe from Former White House Executive Chef Henry Haller

Chef Henry Haller was the Executive Chef at the White House for twenty-one years and through five presidents – Johnson, Nixon Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I’ve used his cookbook, which he wrote after leaving the White House, many times. Every person who works in the Residence has a unique vantage point from which to view contemporary American history, but Chef Haller may have more to tell than most: he actually lived […]


Laura Bush’s Texas Buttermilk Coconut Pie with Whipped Cream

I learned a lot about hospitality from Laura Bush.  She understood and exemplified the desire to give every White House guest a memory of a lifetime, and beyond, because each guest’s visit becomes a part of their personal family history.  She thought carefully about every event she hosted: how it could be exceptional, how the food and flowers could in some way reflect the occasion, how the calligraphy honored the attendees – it was a package of small but important […]


Poached Egg with Prosciutto and Asparagus

A short time after I came to work at the White House, we found ourselves in need of a new chef. I was asked to reach out to well-known American chefs and solicit their recommendations for a new White House executive chef. One of the people I called was Thomas Keller, famed chef and food innovator, owner of French Laundry and Per Se, and author of some of the great cookbooks of our time. He was kind and helpful, and […]


Straight Talk Supper

Many years ago, my husband became friends with Senator John McCain. He worked for him on his presidential campaign, and has always admired the Senator’s independent and principled stands in the Senate. Earlier this week we gave a dinner in his honor, and I wanted to make the meal as straightforward as the honoree. Dinner was built around Senator McCain’s favorite two foods, hot dogs and chocolate. This gave me the perfect opportunity to put together a menu of easy […]