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White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen

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"An engaging book about life at the Executive Mansion. . . . Hillary Clinton had charged this fiercely competitive, meticulously organized chef with bringing 'what's best about American food, wine, and entertaining to the White House.' His sophisticated contemporary food was generally considered some of the best ever served there." --Marian Burros, New York TimesWhite House "An engaging book about life at the Executive Mansion. . . . Hillary Clinton had charged this fiercely competitive, meticulously organized chef with bringing 'what's best about American food, wine, and entertaining to the White House.' His sophisticated contemporary food was generally considered some of the best ever served there." --Marian Burros, New York TimesWhite House Chef Join Walter Scheib as he serves up a taste--in stories and recipes--of his eleven years as White House chef under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Scheib takes readers along on his whirlwind adventure, from his challenging audition process right up until his controversial departure. He describes his approach to meals ranging from the intimate (rooftop parties and surprise birthday celebrations for the Clintons; Tex-Mex brunches for the Bushes) to his creative approach to bringing contemporary American cuisine to the "people's house" (including innovative ways to serve state dinners for up to seven hundred people and picnics and holiday menus for several thousand guests). Scheib goes beyond the kitchen and his job as chef. He shares what it is like to be part of President Clinton's motorcade (the "security bubble") and inside the White House during 9/11, revealing how he first evacuates his staff and then comes back to fix meals for hundreds of hungry security and rescue personnel. Staying cool under pressure also helps Scheib in other aspects of his job, such as withstanding the often-changing "temperature" of the White House and satisfying the culinary sensibilities of two very different first families.


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"An engaging book about life at the Executive Mansion. . . . Hillary Clinton had charged this fiercely competitive, meticulously organized chef with bringing 'what's best about American food, wine, and entertaining to the White House.' His sophisticated contemporary food was generally considered some of the best ever served there." --Marian Burros, New York TimesWhite House "An engaging book about life at the Executive Mansion. . . . Hillary Clinton had charged this fiercely competitive, meticulously organized chef with bringing 'what's best about American food, wine, and entertaining to the White House.' His sophisticated contemporary food was generally considered some of the best ever served there." --Marian Burros, New York TimesWhite House Chef Join Walter Scheib as he serves up a taste--in stories and recipes--of his eleven years as White House chef under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Scheib takes readers along on his whirlwind adventure, from his challenging audition process right up until his controversial departure. He describes his approach to meals ranging from the intimate (rooftop parties and surprise birthday celebrations for the Clintons; Tex-Mex brunches for the Bushes) to his creative approach to bringing contemporary American cuisine to the "people's house" (including innovative ways to serve state dinners for up to seven hundred people and picnics and holiday menus for several thousand guests). Scheib goes beyond the kitchen and his job as chef. He shares what it is like to be part of President Clinton's motorcade (the "security bubble") and inside the White House during 9/11, revealing how he first evacuates his staff and then comes back to fix meals for hundreds of hungry security and rescue personnel. Staying cool under pressure also helps Scheib in other aspects of his job, such as withstanding the often-changing "temperature" of the White House and satisfying the culinary sensibilities of two very different first families.

30 review for White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I liked the inside look at the white house through unexpected eyes. The logistics of preparing food for so many people at one time is overwhelming, add to that the need to serve it outside at times, glad it's not my job. I was surprised that he would remain through 2 different administrations. I assumed that each new president would bring in their own domestic staff. I would love to have my own personal chef to make me exotic meals even for lunch and keep track of calories etc. for me. It was ea I liked the inside look at the white house through unexpected eyes. The logistics of preparing food for so many people at one time is overwhelming, add to that the need to serve it outside at times, glad it's not my job. I was surprised that he would remain through 2 different administrations. I assumed that each new president would bring in their own domestic staff. I would love to have my own personal chef to make me exotic meals even for lunch and keep track of calories etc. for me. It was easy to read and I liked looking at the recipes, however I doubt I would ever try most of them.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Smart

    This book was full of inside stories of White House staff life. It was told from the foodies' perspective, naturally, and I ate it up. :)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    Thank you, President Bush, for having the palate of a three year-old.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alina

    I enjoyed the content of this book -- seeing the White House from a different perspective, getting to know the First Families' food tastes, learning more about cuisine and picking up new recipes, etc -- but I must say the writing was quite dry at times. The anecdotes were short and seemingly out of place, in the midst of almost list-like writing of what happened and what dinner was next. I did enjoy the difference in writing style between his descriptions of cooking for the Clintons v cooking for I enjoyed the content of this book -- seeing the White House from a different perspective, getting to know the First Families' food tastes, learning more about cuisine and picking up new recipes, etc -- but I must say the writing was quite dry at times. The anecdotes were short and seemingly out of place, in the midst of almost list-like writing of what happened and what dinner was next. I did enjoy the difference in writing style between his descriptions of cooking for the Clintons v cooking for the Bushes. He was very professional and courteous in his explanations of menu choices and personal style of communication, but it was so easy to read through the lines. Here's what I gleaned from his book, in which he TRIED to be un-biased: he loved working for the Clintons and thought they were great, open and healthful minded, conscientious people; he thought the Bushes were bland, boring, and backwards in the way they dealt with food and entertaining. Long story short: A decent read, but much more for the content than the writing itself.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Interesting. Author seems like a decent down to earth guy, in spite of all the crap he had to deal with.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marianne Fanning

    I enjoyed this book - the recipes were over the top and very few "normal" people would attempt to make these. The ingredients alone are insane. The book was incredibly telling on many levels. It is very apparent that the writer preferred the Clinton's - they threw lavish parties - increased the size of the outings to a ridiculous level. George Bush would host a state dinner which would include 125 people ... Hilary Clinton would host the same type of dinner and invite thousands. The Bush Adminis I enjoyed this book - the recipes were over the top and very few "normal" people would attempt to make these. The ingredients alone are insane. The book was incredibly telling on many levels. It is very apparent that the writer preferred the Clinton's - they threw lavish parties - increased the size of the outings to a ridiculous level. George Bush would host a state dinner which would include 125 people ... Hilary Clinton would host the same type of dinner and invite thousands. The Bush Administration would have a military band as entertainment and the Clinton's would invite celebrities in. Every lunch at the Clinton White House was a major production ... George Bush would stop into the kitchen and ask, "what's for lunch" and want a BLT with Lay's potato chips. You realize how elitist the Clinton's were and how down home and normal the Bush's were. Amazing! The stories around 9/11 were fascinating.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    All you foodies, beware! This book offers a very practical approach to revealing the inside secrets of the first family's dining habits, from teaching Chelsea Clinton to cook vegetarian meals at college to ordering custom-built, military-style kitchen trucks to serve picnics on the White House lawn. It includes some coverage of the decision-making power of Daniel Shanks, the White House Wine Cellar manager (who happens to be a big fan of Ancien Wines!). History, recipes, and personal anecdote al All you foodies, beware! This book offers a very practical approach to revealing the inside secrets of the first family's dining habits, from teaching Chelsea Clinton to cook vegetarian meals at college to ordering custom-built, military-style kitchen trucks to serve picnics on the White House lawn. It includes some coverage of the decision-making power of Daniel Shanks, the White House Wine Cellar manager (who happens to be a big fan of Ancien Wines!). History, recipes, and personal anecdote all in one. Walter Scheib is a great storyteller, but an even better chef (he served a Food and Wine event in Milwaukee, which is where I scored the book). Try it. You'll be surprised how engaging it is for a "cook book."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    Loved this little peek into the life of a Chef at the White House. Amazing to read all they did and do and yet their main responsibility is serving the family which included 3 many days but thousands on many occasions too. Quite astonishing to see how the Clintons revamped the White House kitchen and how things changed again with the Bush Family(not surprising but intriguing). I can only imagine what the O'Bama Chef is doing these days, I hope he/she writes a book about it too some day. This Che Loved this little peek into the life of a Chef at the White House. Amazing to read all they did and do and yet their main responsibility is serving the family which included 3 many days but thousands on many occasions too. Quite astonishing to see how the Clintons revamped the White House kitchen and how things changed again with the Bush Family(not surprising but intriguing). I can only imagine what the O'Bama Chef is doing these days, I hope he/she writes a book about it too some day. This Chef does divulge many recipes, none of which I tried, but many that sounded delicious but most had too many ingredients for me to even attempt! Quick, fun read!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emjay

    What a talent and expertise to be able to feed two very different presidents, their families, staff and thousands of guests! There's neither political observations ('not my business') nor dirt ('one does not violate the trust of a former employer'). This is a fascinating look at the inside workings of the White House kitchen & the families that headed the House in the 1990s & 2000s. Chef Scheib has respect for the Bushes but his heart belongs to the Clintons. &, yes, lots of good receipes here! What a talent and expertise to be able to feed two very different presidents, their families, staff and thousands of guests! There's neither political observations ('not my business') nor dirt ('one does not violate the trust of a former employer'). This is a fascinating look at the inside workings of the White House kitchen & the families that headed the House in the 1990s & 2000s. Chef Scheib has respect for the Bushes but his heart belongs to the Clintons. &, yes, lots of good receipes here! Also, Andrew Friedman who has worked on many celebrity chef's books, is listed as the second author.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erin Schwane

    I'm giving this 3.5 stars mostly due to the interesting trivia I learned about the day-to-day workings of the White House and political leaders as well as the numerous artifacts included, like Hillary Clinton's lunch menu. Still, I found the writing to be poor at times and the chef co-author was not likable. I also wanted stronger closure, like hearing about what the author did when he left the White House (in addition to writing this) and what he learned from his time there. Instead the book st I'm giving this 3.5 stars mostly due to the interesting trivia I learned about the day-to-day workings of the White House and political leaders as well as the numerous artifacts included, like Hillary Clinton's lunch menu. Still, I found the writing to be poor at times and the chef co-author was not likable. I also wanted stronger closure, like hearing about what the author did when he left the White House (in addition to writing this) and what he learned from his time there. Instead the book stopped abruptly with the end of his job.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Interesting to get an inside peek into the food production of White House events, food preferences of the first family and roles of various support staff at The White House. Many of the recipes sounded delicious but were very complicated with no description of modifications and obscure ingredients. I was left uninspired. :( I stopped this book prior to getting to part two (Part 1 Clinton Administration, Part 2 Bush Administration) because of my lack of interest in the recipes and having a strong Interesting to get an inside peek into the food production of White House events, food preferences of the first family and roles of various support staff at The White House. Many of the recipes sounded delicious but were very complicated with no description of modifications and obscure ingredients. I was left uninspired. :( I stopped this book prior to getting to part two (Part 1 Clinton Administration, Part 2 Bush Administration) because of my lack of interest in the recipes and having a stronger desire to read other books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    This is an interesting look inside the kitchen of the White House. The difference between even the eating styles of the Clinton's and Bush's seemed to be indicative of their overall styles (but who am I to talk... I'm sure my taste impresses no one). There are lots of recipes that are supposedly made a little easier, but still more complicated than anything I make. It is still interesting for the view of how things work at the White House.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katie Boston

    Chef Walter Scheib recently made an appearance at the resort where I work, and I couldn't resist buying a copy and getting it autographed! This book is very interesting to me, as someone who works 'behind the scenes' in the hospitality industry. We host large events, but nothing on this scale. The stories are amazing! I also bought a copy for my father, who is a retired Colonel and loves to cook. I haven't tried any recipes yet but I love reading about the White House events.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Loved the political inside story, especially the tone set by each of the first families (the Bush family versus the Clintons). Made the Clinton's onion rings, Chelsea's chocolate chip cookies & a pear and chicken salad that was really, really good. Hmmm......wonder if Hillary returns to the White House if she will resurrect her relationship with him as the White House chef? Loved the political inside story, especially the tone set by each of the first families (the Bush family versus the Clintons). Made the Clinton's onion rings, Chelsea's chocolate chip cookies & a pear and chicken salad that was really, really good. Hmmm......wonder if Hillary returns to the White House if she will resurrect her relationship with him as the White House chef?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Rogers

    Another book about cooking and another about cooking in the White House. Hmm. Not sure what that says about me. Interesting, intimate look at the people who live in the White House and how things work there. Gave me increased respect for the Clintons and diminshed (if that's possible) my feelings for the Bushes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Journeywoman

    One of the best memoirs I have ever read. This was a fascinating look at the Clinton and Bush administrations from the kitchen. I loved learning about this side of them. It made me like the Clinton's more and find something redeemable in the Bush's. (Which I had been having problems with.) I look forward to trying the recipes and highly reccomend the book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Some interesting anecdotes and recipes; you can tell the author really loved the Clintons and Hillary's approach to food. (And was somewhat less impressed with George W. Bush and his desire for peanut butter and honey sandwiches with chips on the side, heh.) I was reading this book the night the Penguins won the Stanley Cup!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I enjoyed this book because it was interesting in parts. Overall, the author came across as somewhat whiny by the end. As much as he loved the Clintons, he had to know that his experience with the Bushes would be different. I am amazed he made it all the way through George W.'s first term since he was a much more boring eater than Hillary.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dara (Dara Reads OK)

    I didn't read this for the recipes (which were beyond my skill!) I love stories about the support people (ushers, cooks, florists) at the White House. The people who often serve several presidents. They have such an interesting perspective. I loved all the behind the scenes details of state dinners and what Sept. 11 was like for the White House employees.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jody Shee

    Walter Scheib was the White House chef from 1994 to 2005, serving the Clintons and Bush's. His life in that position is fascinating all by itself, but add to it the insight you get from learning more about the personal lives of the First Families, and it's that much better. Throughout, he includes recipes, which for me, weren't necessary, though others might look at it as a value-added.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amar Pai

    God GW Bush SUCKED. Right down to his shitty taste in food. It's the least of his crimes, but man. I wonder who the Obamas' chef is... hopefully the menu these days has more curries and less fancy plated 'piece of meat drizzled with sauce' haute cuisine I like how Clinton would sneak porterhouse steaks and onion rings when Hillary went out of town

  22. 5 out of 5

    Minnow

    This book doesn't offer the most luxurious prose or all the sordid details you'd like but it's pretty entertaining to learn what Bush has for lunch (grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers, mainly) or that he disdains all green food.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mickey

    The "West Wing" of cookbooks, the mediocre writing is barely noticeable between eye-opening anecdotes, tempting recipes, and interesting sidebars. The comparison between the Clinton years and the Bush years makes for even more interesting food for thought. (Cookbooks; 400+)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    A fascinating look inside the White House kitchen during the Clinton and G.W. Bush years, from how meals were planned and executed to details on various parties and state dinners held during this period. The story is interspersed with actual recipes used in the White House.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Apparently, I've read this book twice. Walter Scheib is a very fine, discreet man and it was interesting to read about the food he prepared and his interactions with the White House residents. 8-11-15 second reading

  26. 4 out of 5

    Effie

    This was a fun look at the White House chef for the Clintons' last seven years of office and the Bushs' first term. More goes into cooking for the First Family and all of those events than I would have thought about. And some great recipes, to boot.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    This is a great book because the chef's career in the White House spans several presidencies. It is interesting to learn about the culinary likes and dislikes between the different presidents and their families and to read about the chef's day to day challenges.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    After meeting the chef at the Celebrity Chef Tour in Eggleston, I thoroughly enjoyed reading these excepts that give an informative and humorous look to the white house happenings. The recipes are very interesting and I look forward to testing some in our kitchen.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Craig Jorgensen

    Interesting look into what goes on in the white house kitchen. Lots of recipes if you are into that kind of thing. And... just in case you care, the Clintons had much more refined palates than the Bushes.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    I found it very interesting to hear about the behind the scenes at the White House via the Kitchens. Walter wrote from a personal experience in dealing with the good and bad of his White House years in a down to earth manner. I am excited to try some of his recipes for my own entertaining.

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