Tuesday, November 24, 2009

State Dinner Tuesday with the Obamas II

This was a plate (mid bites) prepared by White House Chef Sam Kass for the governor's formal dinner in February 2009.  The presidential seal is on the dessert chocolate and notice not a smudge - each one is checked for perfection.  This was Mrs. Obama's first formal dinner at the White House and she chose the Wilson China.
Watch C-SPAN for coverage that is uninterrupted and filled with salient tips from experts on everything from military protocol to the floral arrangements.  A State Occasion, let a lone a dinner, is lavish and meant to welcome a head of state with the finest of American hospitality at America's most famous address.   First Ladies traditionally show off their arrangements and release details regarding floral wonders, china selection, silverware settings and other details during the day.  The room (which is actually a tent on the South Lawn) tent is already arranged and the menu selected.  It is written by hand for each setting by the White House calligrapher's office.  Each course is designed, pre-tasted by the first lady and a small group of insiders and every seat has a handwritten name above each plate.  Mrs. Obama's press secretary Katie Lleyveld will be overwhelmed today as most microscopic minutiae will be fodder for the press and interested folks like me ... and you!

This is a state formal dinner using the Ronald Reagan dinner service. by Mrs. Bush.  Note the coloration of the American Beauty Roses and the plates.  These are decided once the gown is selected for the evening.  Photo courtesy the White House.

The custom is to not have spouses seated next to each other.  Mrs. Obama will be at a different table than her husband.  President Obama will toast his guest from the podium with the gilded eagle.  In the past year, President Obama got a sample of his first snafu at a fancy official White House dinner when the eagle podium collapsed as he was giving a toast.  The Chief Usher and the Head Butler were probably close to heart attacks as they plan down to the nano-second absolutely everything and always ensure there are back-ups for the back-ups. There is even spare pantyhose and other necessities for any guest who faces a wardrobe malfunction - within reason.  The floral designers have special pieces for the table settings and all thirty-five bathrooms, especially those on the state floor.

Mrs. Obama greets an esteemed guest at her first international state hosting assignment for the G-20 in Pennsylvania at Rosemont Farm before the world's first ladies sent down to a formal dinner on the patio.  The tablecloths and the china were a direct reflection of the dress Michelle Obama wore that evening.  Photo courtesy of the White House.

An assortment of contractors has been vetted and hired for this state occasion.  The kitchen is tense with anticipation, yet calm and orderly under the direction of veteran Executive Chef, Cristeta Comerford.  It's tight as a tick in the cramped quarters and everything is done in an efficiency experts dream of a manufacturing assembly line.  The dessert by Bill Yosses, the WH Pastry Chef and his assistant will feature a theme and down to the most exquisite drops will be completely edible. (The Pastry team from March 2009 at the White House prepare each plate in the State Dining Room.  Photo courtesy of the White House)

Here is the original post outlining protocol for the state dinner back in October.
More to come after I do my physical therapy...

11/24/09 UPDATE 1: From the Photo Spray held by FLOTUS displaying tonight's table settings on the South Lawn.  The beautiful grounds and rolling green lawn seem to be a key part of the inspiration.  It also is quite reminiscent of the Green Room with its silk moire in the White House where the Obama family had their official family portrait taken by Annie Libowitz.

Here what we can tell from this photo - Its the William Jefferson Clinton China with the gilded flatware from Barbara Bush.  The cushions on the chairs match the tablecloth and the linen napkins.  That means a stunning backdrop for what FLOTUS or Michelle Obama has chosen to wear.  (Photo courtesy CBS.)  The brand spanking new White House Chief floral designer, Laura Dowling (last week's East Wing hire is how new), will have an amazing centerpiece which we do not have photos of yet.

Update 2:  Michelle Obama held a luncheon for young women while featuring the protocol and precision involved in a state dinner.  The luncheon was held in the State Dining Room.  That Room was later used to showcase the table in a green reminiscent also of the Indian state colors of India and incredible green gems.  It is off set with plum colored stemware and vibrant floral decor. (Photo courtesy of AP)

Mrs. Gusharan Kuar at the arrival ceremony with a stunning jade and silvery moss colored sari as Mrs. Obama brings saffron or a buffed up mandarin orange with an India inspired embossed ensemble at the State Arrival ceremony.  The ceremony had to be moved indoors to the East Room so the military pomp and circumstance was absent with November weather teardrops on the White House Lawn. 

Update 3 - The piece that inspired the dinner - The Dress by Naeem Khan.

Guests run the gamut from Robin Roberts of ABC to Jeff Immelt of GE.  The tent seats 400 and the entertainment includes Kurt Elling and Jennifer Holiday.  In the above image they are in the Cross hall of the state floor where its customary to have your picture taken if the dinner was held inside the White House.  A guest chef helped with the vegetarian menu and the dessert pears were poached in the honey made by Mrs. Obamas bees. 


rikyrah said...
Tuesday, 24 November, 2009  

tonight was one of my goosebumps moments that I wanted when Barack Obama won. I think this White House hit it out of the park. I loved everything.

I am so sad that c-span didn't cover it as extensively as I thought they would.

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