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CHEF SERVES TALES OF WHITE HOUSE
Photograph by Bob SternFormer White House chef Walter S. Scheib, left, in the Berkshire Dining Commons at UMass-Amherst with cook Di Hong of Amherst in the Noodle Bowl area of the cafeteria.
Here is a recent article written by Diane Lederman from The Republican Newsroom in Massachusetts.AMHERST - While the country might be divided along blue and red states, tastes at the White House are not so divided, according to Walter Scheib, whose tenure as executive chef for the White House spanned the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush are "both adventurous, both like full flavors." And both were concerned about health and curious about food.The presidents, however, would have been happy if "we opened a rib joint" in the White House basement. Any meat covered in cheese made them happy.Scheib, White House executive chef from 1994 to 2005, was at the University of Massachusetts here last week and spoke to students at the Berkshire Dining Commons. This was his third visit to campus.He joked about how he worked for 11 years and now gets to talk about working. He talked about the chef's flexible schedule: "You can work any 85 hours a week you want." Members of the Bush family are early risers so Scheib would be at the White House by 4 a.m. The Clintons slept a little later.He said Laura Bush was "adamant about organic." Hillary Clinton wanted to know about what they were eating. For example, he prepared a meal using fennel in the 1990s before it was so popular and she asked what it was. So they provided her with some information.Chelsea Clinton was vegan and before she went off to Stanford her mother asked if the staff could teach her daughter to prepare vegan meals. She spent six weeks learning and when she was finished they presented her with a Walter Scheib cooking school certificate, he said.Life at the White House is not really that much different than life in any family. Just like in many homes, he said "if mama's happy, everyone's happy."To work successfully at the White House as a chef, he said "you check your ego and politics at the door." Clinton asked him about his politics and Scheib said it wasn't his place to tell him.Scheib said the public often doesn't get to see the real person on television. Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign came off as a "critical school marm" but he said she's very humorous and likes to laugh.He said Bush "is not stupid" as his critics say and would come away from the podium after a speech and be disappointed with his performance.Scheib said if he was still working at the White House, he would be studying the eating habits of the candidates to familiarize himself with the kinds of food they like to eat.Scheib, who wrote "White House Chef: 11 Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen" loves telling stories. "There is nothing more fun than making them human" he said.