In the weeks leading up to the inauguration, the Obama Foodorama blog has become one of the most active food blogs out there. It has just posted a whopper post interviewing former White House chef Walter Scheib on the brouhaha surrounding the Obamas' decision to keep existing White House chef Christeta Comerford, whom Scheib trained. She's no celebrity chef, farmer, or activist -- just a working cook who has been on the job since 2005.
The choice to keep Comerford on is apparently a big raspberry to all those Great Thinkers who demanded that the First Family hire a chef who could represent proper food politics as well as elevated taste. The same cabal would have Alice Waters plant the White House garden and Michael Pollan make cabinet appointments.
The Foodorama folks take an overly disingenuous tone when they act surprised that the choice of a White House chef makes national news. It was news when Jacqueline Kennedy hired René Verdon, and news when chefs around the nation petitioned the Clintons to hire an American rather a French or Swiss chef (which is how Scheib got his job). But I'm with the bloggers and Mr. Scheib when they throw their support behind this low-profile cook. As they write:
Part of the Obamas' life
must remain private, by necessity. They're now living in a
crazy-crackers fishbowl, and perhaps something as simple as what they
eat is one of the few things that can remain theirs alone. Certainly
the menus for state functions can be published, but do we really need
to know every single detail about their foodie lives? And do we need to
demand that the Obamas eat a certain way to satisfy a portion of the
foodie populace that's "forward thinking?"
To me, the choice of Comerford, who is by a number of accounts both good at her job and familiar with its unique demands, backs up the part of the Obama myth I'd like to subscribe to: that he's picking people based more on competence than political expediency (yeah, yeah, I know that's disingenuous, too). Until the Obamas invite me to a state dinner to critique Comerford's food, I'm just going to expect that she's already proven herself the best woman for the job.