Monday, June 4, 2007

Pastry Chef to the Prez

Required summer reading part 1
All The President's Pastries Twenty-Five Years in the White House by Ronald Mesnier with Christian Malard

This lion-hearted man has written one page turner of an autobiography. Ronald Mesnier was one of nine children born in rural France to working-class parents. His start in a home with no running water or electricity ultimately lead to the home of the world's most powerful head of state. An apprentice to a pastry chef at the age of twelve, Mesnier went on to work at the Savoy in London, George V in Paris, The Princess in Bermuda, and the Homestead in Virginia. As Executive Pastry Chef at the White House he was the mastermind behind all those fabulous gingerbread houses for the Christmas parties in the East Room.

Ronald Mesnier chalks up his success to hard work and never saying,"No" to any request. This included building Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for First Lady Laura Bush when he had no idea who Willy Wonka was. His book is full of intriguing stories of behind the scenes at the White House and all the varied personalities who have been entertained there.

Em (oldest daughter) and I met Ronald Mesnier at a cooking school sponsored by Publix a few weeks ago. It was a Mother's Day gift and a good time. He prepared several desserts that were presidential favorites and we got to taste each of them. All the recipes seemed uncomplicated and doable, except maybe the chocolate basket he made to serve lemon curd in. That involved tempering the chocolate and several steps of coating a bowl with it. Then there was a white chocolate handle. I would only go to all that trouble if it was going to be enshrined under a glass dome for all eternity, but he promptly broke it up and served it to us. Guess you can do that when you know you can make another one anytime you like.

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