Oval Office Eats for Just $500
Enjoy dishes created for past presidents; plus recipes to cook them yourself.
NEW YORK, Feb. 6, 2008— -- Want to eat like a president? Well, here is your chance.
A New York hotel that has hosted every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover is launching a new tasting menu based on the meals served to commanders in chief.
Consider it your own little taste of history.
Take the roasted rack of lamb. The dish was served to President George H.W. Bush when he entertained British Prime Minister John Major in 1992. And the dessert -- the chocolate extravaganza -- was given to Bush's son, President George W. Bush.
Not a fan of the Bush family? No worries. The four-course meal also includes dishes served to Presidents Reagan and Clinton.
But the meal isn't just about the food, it's also about the setting: the historic Waldorf Astoria hotel and its sister property the Waldorf Towers. The meal will only be available to guests of the Towers or those dining at the hotel's Bull & Bear steakhouse. The meal is served to guests on the same china used for visiting presidents and is delivered to their suite in white-glove fashion by personal butlers.
So how much for this four-course presidential menu paired with wine? Guests at the Towers will be charged $330 a person plus $150 for a butler shared for up to 10 guests. At least tax and tip are included in that price.
For those eating in the Bull & Bear, the meal costs $500 a person and includes private butler service, U.S. flags adorning the room, and presidential amenities for diners to take home with them. Reservations for this meal worthy of a presidential palate need to be made a week in advance.
ABC News was treated to a free sampling of the dishes in the Waldorf's presidential suite as Super Tuesday election results rolled in from across the country. While most of the talk around the dining room table in the 35th-floor presidential suite was about politics, the guests all seemed impressed by the wide range of presidential tastes. For instance, the fish prepared for Reagan was purposely simple to fit the president's dietary needs.
The steamed turbot served to President Reagan at a Heads of State Dinner for the United Nations' 40th Anniversary in 1985. CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE
Executive chef John Doherty, who has cooked for more heads of state and royalty than any other chef in the country during his 30-year tenure at the hotel, personally oversees the preparation of each meal. Doherty started at the Waldorf at age 27, right after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America.
Doherty said that when crafting a meal he has to deal not just with the president's tastes but with the dietary and religious restrictions of his guests.
"Sometimes I have to put my likes and dislikes aside," he said.
Doherty was tight-lipped about what the celebrity guests of the Waldorf enjoyed in their formal meals and their late-night munchies.
What did Paris Hilton and her siblings enjoy? Silence. How about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? No response. Oh, well, Doherty was there to talk about the presidential food anyway.
"George Bush Sr. was very adventurous and ate anything," he did let on. But that was about it.
Matt Zolbe, director of marketing for the Waldorf, said the meal reflects the service that his hotel can provide. Many places can lay claim to having hosted presidents, but Zolbe said the Waldorf really sees itself as an extension of the White House.
The hotel offers a private driveway for heads of state and will turn over security and the ability to hold elevators to the presidential entourage.
During the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, the hotel had 24 different heads of state staying there. Even with that crowd, each had to be made to feel special.
"You're talking about people who are used to being top banana," Zolbe said.
By the way, the presidential suite rents for $7,000 to $10,000 a night. If you are shelling out that much cash for a hotel room, $500 for dinner doesn't seem that outrageous.
The meal though is not meant for every guest. Zolbe said the hotel is selling an experience to those who can "afford to do anything they want."
"It's unlikely to be an expense enjoyed by the masses," he said. "I don't think we'll be selling four of these a night."
The Presidential Tasting Menu begins with a favorite of President Clinton: Seared Scallop with Osetra Caviar and Potato-Chive Mousseline, which was served at a Heads of State Dinner in September 2000. The second course, Poached Turbot with Caviar-Champagne Sauce, was prepared for President Reagan at a Heads of State Dinner for the United Nations' 40th Anniversary in 1985.
When President George H.W. Bush entertained Prime Minister John Major in 1992, they had Roast Rack of Lamb with Saffron Potatoes, Candied Eggplant and Pickled Onion for their main course. Chocolate Extravaganza, a preferred dessert of George W. Bush, completes the menu.
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