Former White House Chef Dishes on Presidential Families

ByABC News
June 9, 2006, 6:52 PM

June 9, 2006 — -- Hillary Clinton collected dozens of hot sauces; George W. Bush and Bill Clinton ate junk food when their first ladies weren't around; Chelsea Clinton's sudden vegetarianism caused major kitchen complications; the Bush twins received calorie counts for meals; and and both first families loved enchilada dinners. These items -- and other dishing -- were revealed in a recent "Nightline" visit with former White House chef Walter Scheib, recently fired by first lady Laura Bush.

Politics aside, all residents of the White House have to eat. And for 11 years, spanning the Clinton and (part of the) Bush administrations, Scheib fed the White House families, serving at least three meals a day in the residential East Wing.

Scheib, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, had been hired away in 1994 from the elitist Greenbrier resort in West Virginia by first lady Hillary Clinton after undergoing a rigorous interview and tasting ordeal. Scheib says he didn't take the post for the money -- a salary reportedly in the $80,000 to $100,000 range -- but for "the singular honor to serve the first family. "Most chefs don't get to do that in a lifetime."

Scheib was dismissed in 2005 by Mrs. Bush, but he said he doesn't hold a grudge because, for her to make her own legacy in the East Wing, some changes were necessary. Mrs. Bush promoted Scheib's assistant, Cristeta Comerford, to head chef, making her the first-ever female in that position.

This being Washington, D.C., Scheib's departure couldn't just end with his departure ... an unnamed East Wing official dished about him to The Wall Street Journal, saying Scheib was shown the door for displaying "a level of arrogance ... in preparing dishes the Bush family detested -- scallops in particular, which kept appearing on menus despite repeated complaints."

Scheib says whoever's spreading the story about the scallops is full of soup. He insists it had nothing to do with any of the rumored reasons for his termination --