Inside the White House Kitchen: How Presidents are Fed

As the election creeps up on us, it’s time to take a look at how the White House eats. Being President of the United States, you might expect to be treated to a four-star meal three times a day. Not quite. When it comes to what the President can eat, there are quite a few restrictions. First off, it can’t kill them. Any food that could potentially give the President food poisoning is off the table, a sad day for all ceviche loving Presidents! On top of this, the President picks up the check for most of the meals. Aside from official state functions, that extra grilled cheese gets tacked onto the President’s monthly bill.

Side note – The highest kitchen in all the land wasn’t always sparkling clean. In 1933, Eleanor Roosevelt’s housekeeper found enough cockroaches in the kitchen that she demanded a complete renovation.

C-CAP Board Co-Chair Marcus Samuelsson had the honor of cooking the first state dinner for the Obamas. You can check out that amazing menu here. When President and Mrs. Obama visit NYC, they head up to Harlem as often as possible to eat at Marcus’ Red Rooster. So, how did Marcus come up with the perfect feast for the Obamas when they came to town? “There were a few things I had in mind: Harlem, First Lady Obama’s healthy eating initiative, and spring,” says Marcus, but he also wanted to pay homage to President Obama’s Hawaiian upbringing. What he came up with was a lobster salad with spring peas, his famous braised short ribs, and his own version of poke. These short ribs have come to be known as “Obama’s Short Ribs,” and we have the recipe for you!



  • 8 (6-ounce) English-cut short ribs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed, smashed and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef or chicken broth
  • ½ cup plum sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Freshly grated horseradish, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pat meat dry with paper towels and season all over with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat grapeseed oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add short ribs and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.
  3. Add onion, carrot, celery, lemongrass, garlic and ginger to the pot. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Pour in wine and cook, stirring to dissolve any of the brown bits that may still be on the bottom of the pot. Add broth, plum sauce, soy sauce, thyme, parsley and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.
  4. Return short ribs to pot, along with any juices, cover and slide pot into oven. Braise until meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.
  5. Transfer meat to a plate. Strain braising liquid into a fat separator. If you don’t have a fat separator, use a ladle to skim the fat off the top of the braising liquid; then strain through a fine mesh sieve.
  6. Discard bay leaves and thyme stems and transfer vegetables to a food processor. Process vegetables until smooth, then add 1 1/2 cups of the defatted braising liquid to the processor and pulse to combine.
  7. Return sauce to Dutch oven and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add short ribs and turn to coat in the sauce; set aside until you’re ready to serve.
  8. Reheat short ribs in the sauce. Divide short ribs between four shallow bowls and top each with a spoonful of sauce. Put remaining sauce in a bowl for passing at the table, along with a bowl of horseradish, if you’d like.

Full Recipe from the New York Times.

By Guest Blogger Eliza Loehr, C-CAP Operations Manager


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