It's about 4:00 in morning and I am driving north out of Virginia up to New Jersey. I spent the last weekend at the Greenbrier Hotel, my old stomping grounds, where I once served as Executive Chef. The Greenbrier is a grand old place located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. It is undergoing an extensive $50 million renovation that promises to freshen up the physical plant and give the resort a more contemporary feel.The event at the Greenbrier included doing a cooking demo and talk for about a hundred guests for the 22nd Annual Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center Gala. This is the biggest annual fundraiser that the West Virginia University Cancer Center puts on. Their goal is to become a comprehensive cancer center which will put them on the map as a National Cancer Institute. The WVU School of Medicine is planning to expand the existing center so they can increase the size of the patient clinic areas and the research/lab facilities for the doctors.
The Gala is a black tie fundraiser that included dinner and dancing to a band called the Benny Benack Swing Band. The staff at the Greenbrier put together a few renditions of my cuisine at the White House. Quite honestly, it was not the best interpretation of my food that I've seen, but they did do a pretty good job, all things considered. Regardless, it was simply great to see and visit with some terrific people.If you have never heard of the Greenbrier, you can check out their website. They host a variety of culinary events for the public and will host the 2007 Symposium for Professional Food Writers.
I finished working in Destin, Florida. I've been on both the East and West Coast of Florida and have enjoyed them immensely. Now I’ve had a chance to work on the North Coast lovingly called, The Redneck Riviera.
I just did a wonderful party for Alabama Power. Guests included a group of 40 CEO's, other power company officials, and their spouses. The event took place at the Watercolor Inn, a wonderful hotel with a great staff. Executive Sous Chef Brian Murray did a super job putting together the entire menu. Everybody had a great time!I wish I would have had the opportunity to relax and enjoy the coast. The resort is a little bit isolated and the weather was slightly stormy during the time that I was there. There are beautiful white sand beaches - maybe the whitest sand I've ever seen. The sand is made up of Appalachian quartz that comes from the mountains. The surf itself is tremendous. I suppose that’s why they call it the Emerald Coast.
I was introduced to a species of shrimp I had not seen before called North Florida Hoppers. They are in season from the middle of March through May. Florida Hoppers are like chameleons; their color varies depending on the sand of the area in which they live. One of the things that makes the Hoppers distinctive from other shrimp is that they develop a red spot about the size of a small pea on the side of their shell when they mature. Florida Hoppers are very flavorful and tender – in a word, delicious. We used them on our red curried sweet potato soup. They were very well received.
Right now I’m happy that I’m not cooking for my fellow passengers who are waiting for our flight out of ATL. Upon arriving to our initial assigned boarding gate, we found out that our gate had been reassigned. However, on our way to the new gate the employee behind the loudspeaker blared out yet another set of directions to go to a completely different gate. I think this is the first time that I’ve witnessed passengers fly their own soda cups as a sign of protest and frustration. I’m going back “home” now, if you will, back to the Greenbrier for a couple of days. Since I last worked there, I’ve only had a chance to see some of my old friends, maybe once or twice, in the last 12 or 13 years. I’m truly looking forward to visiting again.
This last weekend was spent in Pittsburgh, PA. On Saturday, I helped create a five-course dinner for 85 guests at the Carlton Restaurant, downtown. The dinner was part of the 5th annual Pittsburgh Wine festival. I had a great time sitting and talking with the guests after the event. So far I have had the chance to see some of the best, and maybe, the most typical of what Pittsburgh has to offer. Tom Moran, my friend and co-worker from the River Creek Club, is a Pittsburgh native. Tom had the chance to take me around the "Market Strip District" where there are a myriad of clubs, bars, and restaurants. We went to a restaurant called Primanti Brothers. Their house specialty is a unique sandwich creation that consists of a big fat meat patty (similar to salisbury steak), cole slaw, a hot fried egg, tomatoes, and french fries which are then packed inside the sandwich. Primanti Brothers uses a great classic white bread from Mancini's Bakery. The sandwich probably weighs about one and a half pounds with everything piled in it. The sandwich is a curious icon of Pittsburgh. The Primanti family gives their version of the real story of the Primanti Sandwich here: http://www.primantibros.com/realstory.aspThe highlight of my visit in Pittsburgh was spending time with my son so we could celebrate his 16th birthday. I treated him to a stretch limo ride up to a restaurant called The Monterey Fish Grotto. The restaurant is located on the top of Mt. Washington and has a spectacular view of the city. After dining at the best seats in the house and riding home in the limo we got a little taste of what it might be like to be a rock star. Regardless of all that – it was just incredible to be with my son on his birthday.It is time to go back home to Washington now. The next couple of days will be spent getting organized. I will be back on the road starting on Wednesday, traveling to four different cities for the next part of my tour.
Whoops, there it is.
It's Friday the 20th of April and I'm on the road today traveling I-70 West out of Washington. I’m going up to Pittsburgh to do the opening of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association Week at the Carlton Hotel. We are doing a dinner tomorrow night for about 140 people. I hope to see a lot of my old friends in Pittsburgh. I’m also hungry for some of their famous sandwiches, french fries, and an omelet on the side. I spent the last couple of days in Philadelphia filming Comcast Television ON DEMAND’s Digital Cook Book, something entirely new to me. They bring in chefs from all over the country, get them in front of the camera and have them prepare 5 recipes from their own cookbook. I think the Comcast series will air sometime in July and it will be on the pay-per-view channel. During the filming everything was going perfectly well until I went to boil a piece of fish. There was a little flare up and we had to take a break to reset the scene. As the announcer and I were standing at the back of the sound stage, the rest of the crew was at the front of the stage working in the kitchen to set up for the next shot. Suddenly, one of the legs on the camera tripod buckled. The camera fell backwards and plummeted to the ground. After the technician stopped cursing in disbelief - he had to pick up, what looked to be, a salvageable camera. As he lifted it up, the lens went in one direction and the view piece went in another. One formerly incredible $20,000 broadcast lens bit the dust.
Photography by Kiyomi
Welcome to my Blog
Hi, my name is Walter Scheib. For eleven years, from 1994 to 2005, I was the White House Chef. I cooked for the Clintons and the George W. Bush first families.I'm currently running my own business called TheAmericanChef.com which takes me around to all areas of the United States. I have the opportunity to speak and cook at some very interesting venues whether they are in large cities or very small towns. I meet lots of interesting people, including clients, cooks and service staff. I now get to see many new places for the very first time.As I travel throughout the country I'll be posting to this blog to share my experiences with you. In the next 3 weeks, I'll be in Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Florida, West Virginia, New York City, New Jersey, Nashville, Dallas & Milwaukee. So you can see it's going to be a whirlwind tour.I have a book out that was published by Wiley in January called, “White House Chef, Eleven years, Two Presidents, One kitchen” which you can pick up from Amazon. On occasion I will post to this blog about my experiences in the White House as well.I’m looking forward to sharing my observations about traveling throughout the country, meeting people, finding great regional food, (with any luck) fishing, and of course - cooking.It would be wonderful to get your feedback. Just send an email using the “blog comments” link to the right of this page.Most important of all, thank you sharing my new blog adventure with me.
Photography by Kiyomi