On Presidents Day the former White House executive chef, Walter Scheib, was on hand during the induction ceremony to the Vintners Hall of Fame at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.
Scheib treated guests to food and wine pairings from State Dinner menus he prepared during his tenure from 1994 to 2005.
When asked earlier about last year’s State Dinner debacle, Scheib said it never would have happened during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s reign as First Lady.
You no doubt recall the headlines when the uninvited gate-crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi evaded security at President Obama’s first State Dinner, causing an international stir.
Scheib said Clinton was painstakingly careful to prevent something like that from happening. “When we had our first State Dinner in 1994, we had a full out dress rehearsal with wine, food and flowers – everything, just to make sure we knew where all the moving parts were,” he said. “If you do your job right, you’re invisible. If you do your job wrong, you make headlines and every talk show in the country.”
Pulling off State Dinners to honor world leaders like Nelson Mandela, Scheib said, was his most daunting task. “Putting on a State Dinner is like opening a Broadway show,” he joked.