White House Easter Egg Roll

Yesterday morning I found myself walking from my hotel down to the White House. I decided to walk the short distance because it was a time to spend with my thoughts, and I wanted to take in the moment. I was in D.C. for the White House Easter Egg Roll, invited to do a cooking demo with the Obamas and 30,000 invited guests.

The White House never ceases to amaze me. Although I'd been there many times before, most memorably when I was invited to join Executive Chef Christeta Comerford for the State Dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, I still get chills when I see this historical landmark. I love the process of going through security and showing my passport to receive my credentials. Ask the people who were in line to greet the President-Julianne Moore, Forest Whitaker, numerous sports greats and celebrities-they were as giddy as the children there to meet the Easter Bunny.

If you want to know America, it's right there. Young, old, Asian, Middle Eastern, black, white, Jewish. There's such a cross-section of people that show up for the annual event and it's hard to believe the numbers have grown from 5,000 guests to yesterday's 30,000 invitees. The way I see it, you know it's your first time but you don't know if it'll be your last. I don't take that for granted and have learned to appreciate every moment.

And that was before the fun began. Highlights from my day? Meeting Bo, the dog! But the real joy (and always my passion) was cooking alongside the First Lady, with some backstage help from my intern Noah (a young chef who attends Sasha and Malia's school). In order to emphasize the importance of vegetables in every meal, I prepared my veggie tacos and threw in some shrimp to make it a well-balanced and tasty meal. My little helpers certainly liked it.

During my demonstration, I made note that only a small percentage of Americans eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day. It's an astonishing low number and one I'm committed to help change.

Of course I made a point to visit the White House garden. I was happy to see there were plenty of beautiful lettuce, arugula, potatoes, and spring onions growing well. Clearly all these seasonal products are doing a body good-I was shocked to see how tall Malia had grown since I last saw her. I made sure to stand next to Sasha during a photo op-I wanted to be taller than at least one of the Obama girls.

Check out my photos from yesterday's White House Easter Egg Roll and to watch the video of my demo, click here.

What do you think we can do to help get more fruits and vegetables into our daily diet? Tweet or Facebook me your suggestions!

Photos: Marcus Samuelsson

For more of my event photos, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)

What Are the Presidential Candidates Eating?

By: Michael Engle

Campaigning for the United States presidency can be a daunting challenge.  The New York Times' Ashley Parker recently reported this commonly-known fact: constant exposure to media spotlight can result in significant lifestyle changes.  Republican hopeful Mitt Romney recently experienced this harsh reality, for he lamented that he would not have his traditional birthday dinner, as prepared by his wife Ann.  Because "the show must go on," his beloved "meatloaf cakes" will be served belatedly.

The campaign trail can allow ample opportunities to commit a foodie faux-pas, like John Kerry's famous cheesesteak with Swiss cheese.  (Then-President George W. Bush made a more favorable impression upon the Philly crowd by ordering a "Whiz-wit.") While there haven't been any food faux-pas as of yet, it's clear that politicians eat certain local foods to try to relate with the public of that particular area. But have you ever wondered what are they eating when they're not trying to impress the general public?

Just because one of them is about to be (or stay) President of the Free World doesn't mean that they have to give up their favorite foods. So what do the current presidential candidates love to eat?

Mitt Romney appears to be a true meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, including his birthday meatloaf cakes.  In South Carolina, he even admitted that "[he's] not a catfish man, or actually I'm not a fish man, so much - I mean, I eat it 'cause I'm told it's good for me, but you know I still like the pulled pork."  Even though he, like most politicians, champions healthy eating and exercise, he has an affinity for Carl's Jr.'s jalapea±o chicken sandwich.

Recently, Newt Gingrich famously sacrificed dessert of all varieties for lent, but he and his wife specified that they did not forsake McDonald's, which is Gingrich's favorite fast-food establishment on the campaign trail.

Believe it or not, one of the presidential candidates is actually a cookbook author. If you guessed Ron Paul, you were right! In the primaries, Ron Paul names shrimp and rice, chocolate chip cookies, and breakfast fare among his favorite dishes.  According to campaign press secretary Gary Howard, the Texas congressman "favors soups and salads and often eats light.  Compromises often have to be made in favor of the never stopping clock, so fast food inevitably finds its way onto the plane ... but [Paul] always finds time for exercise!"

There is relatively little insight on Rick Santorum's eating preferences.  He is, however, a self-admitted junk food addict, with a particular affinity for chocolate.

As per the Democrat incumbents, VP Joe Biden shamelessly favors Italian food, while President Barack Obama seems to have a more eclectic palette.  Multiple sources claim that his favorite dish to cook, as well as to eat, is homemade chili. Although we know from our experience with him at Red Rooster Harlem, the President sure did enjoy our braised short ribs and corn bread!

Photo: jmtimages

For more food stories, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)

Happy Birthday Mr. President!

As you all know, this Thursday, August 4th will be President Barack Obama's 50th birthday. With that in mind, I personally wanted to wish President Obama a very "Happy Birthday!" Although we're still not quite sure how the President of the Free World will celebrate his milestone birthday, I do have a few suggestions on what would be a great birthday dinner for this celebration. So take these ideas as my birthday gift to you, Mr. President, and I hope you have many, many more birthdays to come!

Whether you decide to have a nice meal with your loved ones or even cook the meal yourself with your beautiful daughters, Malia and Sasha, these would be great options for your birthday menu:

Appetizer:

Cornbread: I served President Obama our famous cornbread in his recent visit to Red Rooster. President Obama loves comfort food so this would be a great way to start the meal!

Salad:

A nice fresh salad from First Lady Obama's garden: The country is abuzz with Michelle Obama's efforts to bring healthier produce to our markets and we're all aware of her White House garden, so why not enjoy a salad freshly picked from her garden?! I would recommend a light and refreshing Tomato and Watermelon Salad topped with fresh Basil and Mozzarella Cheese.

Entree:

Knowing President Obama likes good meat main dish, a nicely cooked Steak would be the best fit for this.  With some traditional Collard Greens and a nice Corn Succotash as the side dishes, this entree would be a crowd pleaser!

Dessert:

While keeping summer in mind, a great dessert could be a freshly made Strawberry Pie with Whipped Cream and Fresh Strawberries as a topping.

I hope you enjoy your birthday, Mr. President and I look forward to cooking for you once again!

- Marcus

Photo: Barack Obama

What would you cook for the President for his birthday?

Congratulations to Chef Daniel Boulud

Congratulations to my colleague and friend Chef Daniel Boulud, and his entire team for the dinner with President Barack Obama last week. The menu sounded amazing, check it out below. The menu for President Barack Obama's dinner included:

Maine Lobster Salad with Satur Farms Roasted Beets

Duo of Black Angus Beef - Braised Short Ribs with Young Spinach and Roasted Tenderloin with Stuffed Potato and Hen of the Woods

Citrus-Marinated Strawberries with Vanilla-Raspberry Gelee, Sable Breton, Yuzu Sorbet

Sounds fantastic!

Menu Source: Eater NY

Red Rooster Harlem's Dinner for President Obama: Make your own!

This week we shared the recipes from the DNC Dinner with you. Now, your challenge? Make the same dinner that Red Rooster made for President Barack Obama from the comfort of your own kitchen!

Here are the recipes:

Lobster Salad with Buttermilk, Bacon, and Cheddar Biscuits

Short Ribs with Carrot Ginger puree, Sunchokes and Artichokes, Oyster Mushrooms, and Pickled Ramps

Sweet Potato Doughnuts and Brandied Cherry Chocolate Cake

Have you made one of the recipes yet?