Eat Drink Better

Published on December 1st, 2008 | by Beth Bader


Who Wants to Be the Next White House Chef?

On my short list for job candidates who should be Obama’s White House Chef: Kurt Micheal Friese. As our President-Elect takes office and struggles to wrest the Farm Bill from the deathgrip of one of our nation’s largest lobbyist groups, I think Chef Friese would be ideal to serve up some good advice along with Obama’s dinner. (Pictured left, with his wife, Kim McWane Friese.)

My only worry is that the restaurant owner (Devotay in Iowa City), author of A Cook’s Journey, Slow Food in the Heartland, member of the board of directors for Slow Food USA, Edible Iowa River Valley editor-in-chief and contributor on Grist just might be too booked for the job. Chef Friese found a few moments, however, to fill out the “application.”

EDB: What would you bring to the table as White House Chef?

KMF: 30 years in food service and a proven passion for local, sustainable food, enabling the White House to show the world the best the region has to offer. At the same time, while I’m passionate about these things, I’m not a fascist about them. I won’t insist on Virginia oranges or Delaware olive oil. As for my political views (if they matter), slightly to the left of President-Elect Obama on the social issues, and slightly to the right on fiscal ones.

EDB: What would you put on your Menu for Change?

KMF: First and foremost, a large organic garden in place of a big chunk of the White House lawn, and perhaps even a few chickens, neither of which are unprecedented. As for the menu, flavor, seasonality, and healthfulness (in that order). I understand that the President-Elect is a fan of Mexican and southwest flavors, so I’d need to grow some of those ingredients and get area farmers to do the same.

EDB: What would you ask President Obama if you had the chance to talk over a meal?

KMF: I’d ask him to let me and my friends rewrite the Farm Bill from the ground up, starting by having everyone call it the Food Bill.

Stay tuned for more interviews ahead.

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About the Author

Beth Bader is co-author of the book, The Cleaner Plate Club. She is a passionate "Local Food" advocate and an author for the Eat Local Challenge. She loves creating healthy, family-friendly, seasonal foods, family dinners, cooking for friends, and cooking with her child. You can her at The Expatriate's Kitchen.

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