Last night, on October 18, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted their final State Dinner in the White House. As is their wont, it was a modern but elegant affair. She wore Atelier Versace, he said of the dinner that they’d “saved the best for last,” and Mario Batali — in his orange Crocs — cooked a four-course meal with White House executive chef Cris Comerford and executive pastry chef Susan Morrison.
Guest of honor, Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi addressed the First Lady in his opening remarks: “Michelle… let me be frank — your speeches are better than your tomatoes. Thank you so much, as a prime minister but also as father of a small daughter.”
Batali brought along a few members of his NYC-based crew, including chefs Mark Ladner (Del Posto, NYC), Rebecca DeAngelis (pastry chef, Babbo) and Frank Langello (Babbo, NYC). They created a menu of sweet potato pasta, roasted butternut squash, steak, and an apple crostata for dessert.
Other notable attendees included Gwen Stefani (No Doubt, The Voice), Blake Shelton, Frank Ocean, Giorgio Armani, and Susan Cahn (Batali’s wife).
Rachael Ray (when asked who she was wearing, she said, “I honestly have no idea, but I just [tripped and] ripped it.” We are all Rachael Ray at the final Obama White House State Dinner.
Below, see how the chefs put together an Italian feast, by the numbers:
3,060: Number of agnolotti made in the White House prep kitchen
500: Number of guests expected at the dinner
382: Number of VIPs
12: Number of Navy Seals serving as prep cooks
4: Staffers from Batali’s team in NYC
25-30: Contract chefs or kitchen staff
5: Number of types of petit fours
2: Hours First Lady Michelle Obama spent tasting food at Babbo in advance of the dinner
3: Different menu options for dairy-free, meat-free, and vegan diets
21: Years Morrison has been at the White House
2 months: How long Batali has been working with the First Lady on the dinner
24: Hours Batali will be in Washington to prepare the dinner
1: Basket Batali made on Obama’s basketball court
400: Leaves of sage prepped for the pasta course
1,400: Cubes of squash cut and seasoned for the second course
2: White House dogs (Bo and Sunny) Batali petted while wandering the grounds