Walter Scheib to Alice Waters: Lay Off the White House Chef
If you haven't heard already, Alice Waters was in town during the inauguration, trying to raise money for D.C. Central Kitchen, among other groups, and beat the drum for local and sustainable food issues while the world's attention was turned to D.C. I don't know how successful these celebrity-chef-driven dinners were in meeting their goals, but one meal did make headlines when uber-toque and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio performed the Heimlich maneuver on cookbook author Joan Nathan and saved her life.
But that wasn't the only scene at Nathan's dinner party that caused someone to choke. Yesterday, Marian Burros reported this juicy little scene between Walter Scheib, a former White House chef, and Waters, who had criticized the Obamas for not replacing current White House chef, Cristeta Comerford, with a toque more aligned with the local/sustainable movement. Writes Burros:
Mr. Scheib and Ms. Waters made their way to an upstairs room and closed the door. His first words were: “I’m 100 percent behind your agenda. The only dilemma I had is over what you said about Cris, who is my friend,” a reference to Cristeta Comerford, who was hired by Mr. Scheib and was promoted to executive chef after he left, in 2005. “She can’t talk publicly so I became her surrogate. I defend my friends.”
Ms. Waters and others had suggested the Obamas replace her with a chef who would cook locally and sustainably. Mr. Scheib took offense, he said, not only because Ms. Comerford is a talented cook, but because the White House kitchen already does many of the things Ms. Waters has suggested.