WASHINGTON COUNTY (KDKA) — Chef Frank Santilli of the Bistecca Steakhouse prepares presidential specialties, with the help of a former White House chef.
Walter Scheib is visiting the upscale restaurant at the Meadows Casino to kick off Washington County Restaurant Week, on Tuesday night.READ MORE: August Wilson African American Cultural Center Hosts Holiday Community Day
“Our goal is to come, show the restaurants, meet the chefs, see the product, have the hospitality and enjoy the tourism,” he explains.
Hillary Clinton hired the former chef for the famed Greenbrier of West Virginia to modernize the White House menu.
“Mrs. Clinton had let it be known that she was looking for a chef to bring great American cuisine to the White House,” he says. “Not for 10 or 12 people, but for three or four hundred people, for state dinners.”
Walter Scheib wrote a book called “White House Chef.” It’s part memoir and part cookbook. But if you’re looking for a tell-all book, no, he doesn’t give away all the recipes.
He says the wives planned the menus.
“Cooking for the presidents was guys’ food, if you will. Cooking for the first ladies was contemporary American cuisine. Mrs. Clinton had about 125 different hot sauces she collected from around the world, and she liked spicy food. Mrs. Bush only had one, but she put it on everything, so same effect. Now cooking for the presidents, on the other hand, was an entire different deal. I think they would have been just as happy if we had opened a burger joint or rib shack down in the basement.”
As for that blue state- red state thing, he says, “You check your ego and your politics at the door every day, and you just do what they want.”READ MORE: KD Sunday Spotlight: Military Warriors Support Foundation Looking To Help Local Female Veterans
And it’s not just about the food.
“Getting to know these people, that was my greatest honor of working at the White House,” says the chef. “Not cooking, but getting to know great families.”
For more information on the White House Chef, and Washington County Restaurant Week, log onto http://washingtoncountyrestaurantweek.com/.
Scheib joined the “KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway to talk about what kind of food Presidents Clinton and Bush preferred.
He says about President Clinton, “Several would joke he was on the see food diet, he saw food and he would eat it.”
For President Bush Scheib says, “He had his favorites (and was a) man of very limited pretense and enjoyed simpler things. He actually used to say that if you made him a peanut butter and honey, a grilled cheese, a BLT or a hamburger you pretty much covered his entire known culinary universe. So, you didn’t have to go much further than that.”
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