tv The Presidents Kitchen Cabinet CSPAN June 24, 2017 12:44pm-1:23pm EDT
now from the roosevelt reading festival adrian miller former special assistant of president bill clinton. recalls the many african-americans who worked in food service at the white house. and their relationship to president franklin roosevelt. >> good morning -- my maim is and on what have of the library i'd like to welcome
you again to the 2017 roosevelt reading festival. fdr plans for the library to become the premier research institution for studying the entire roosevelt era. the library's research room is king thely one of the busiest of all of the presidential libraries. and this year's group of authors reflects wide variety of research down here. and if you love the roosevelt reading festival, and want to support this and other programs that question do here, i encourage you to become a roosevelt library member. you can join today at the membership table in the hall. or onis line at fdr library.org and if you haven't already please do go see our new special, temporary museum exhibition images of internment incarceration of japanese americans during world war ii. so -- let me quickly go over the format for the tevel's sessions today. at the top of each hour, a session begins with a 30-minute talk followed by a ten minute
question and answer period. the author then moves to the lobby to sign books and -- talk with you more if you have more questions. so during the question and answer period today, this session will be taped for c-span so we appreciate it if you could approach the microphone that is -- over here at the edge of the room to raise any questions. so now it is my pleasure to introduce our next speaker, and this is adrian miller who is a food writer, attorney, and certified barbecue judge who lives in -- [laughter] denver, colorado. [laughter] he is -- currently the executive director of the colorado counsel of churches and such is first african-american and first layperson to hold that position. miller previously served as special assistant to president bill clinton. and a senior policy analyst for colorado governor bill ritter jr.. he's also been board member of the southern food raise alliance.
military's first book soul food surprising story of ann american quiz seen one plate at a time won james beard foundation qeard for scholarship and reference in 2014. [applause] his second book president kitchen cabinet story of the african-americans who have fed our first families from the washingtons to the obamas was published on president's day 2017. let's welcome. [applause] >> yes, a friend of mine. [laughter] well good morning -- it's so great to be here at the president roosevelt presidential library to talk about this subject. i want to give you a little bit about my background. how i came to write this book, on african-american presidentialship and instead of my typical presentation where i would go through clips but focus on those who clipped for president roosevelt and great stories there. so i was born and raised in
denver, colorado, and as you heard i wrote a book on history of soul food and given where i grew up that was street credit on that subject immediately. but i have two southern parents my mom is from chattanooga, tennessee, and my dad from arkansas, so food i grew up eating while i was researching that book on history of soul food that african-americans who have cooked for our presidents started popping up in my research so i said once i finish that book, if i could find enough stories to cobble together a story about presidentialships i'm going to do and fortunately i was able to do that and write this book the president's kitchen cabinet. so i'm a lawyer by training. and didn't -- this is not disparage any attorney in the audience but it wasn't for me. and i was going to open up a soul food restaurant in denver and then a loyal classmate had of mine from georgetown, law school called me up out of the blue and said adrian i'm working on this initiative. and in the white house, do you have any friends who might be interested working on this mission. so i'm sitting in any office in
denver and she's back in d.c. so tell me a little bit more about initiative that was called initiative for one america that was outgrowth of president clinton thirktive on race which had this wild and crazy idea. if we just tacked to one another, and listen we might real that we have a lot more in common than what supposedly divides us so after she told me this, i did the same thing that dick klainny did when george w. bush caption vice president and head of the search committee only mine went on the list so i did get the job move to d.c. and i boy worked in clinton white house at the end of the second term expfer after that i started this -- interest in food writing, and that led to the concern publication of soul food and then to this book. now what i love about roosevelt presidency it has themes that i found in my book. one is just the idea that -- we have these african-americans who are the celebrated culinary artists doing their best to make the president happy. through food and first family as well. and to keep them healthy. we also have this interplay
where -- presidents tend want to play hook key from their diet. and usually it's the first lady and the presidential physician who are saving the presidents from themselves and then african-american cooks caught in the middle so it was just interesting personality so what i'm going to do is primarily focus on three personalities from the roosevelt and administration one is guy named elon disco fields. another woman was named liz subsidy mcduffy primarily a maid in the roosevelt administration but she also did a lot to help cook and with food service and then dazey a cook when he would cook for fdr and stay in warm springs, georgia. now way i organize this book is because i'm dealing with so many people, i eventually found 150 people who have cooked our presidents from george washington to current administration. now my book came i finished my book during obama administration but there are holdovers from obama administration cooking now, in the trump white house. and i found 150 people, and i
decided the best way to tell this story was to create different categories of these cooks. and then tell those stories soy start outside with the ingredients of presidential food ways as i call them. all of the things that are create interplay for the food ways of the white house. and then i started out with the -- used to be called presidential stewart so these requester people that were in charge of domestic operation of the white house now called chief usher but in earliest days they were the steward so shopping, plan menu and hire cooks and oversee operations and then i moved to enslaved people who cooked in little white house for our presidents because they have been slave holders and then i talk the free cooks from the beginning all the way to the president who were part of the white house culture, then i talk about the -- cooks when the president is traveling. so what happens when the president is on a train, or a boat or air force one what happens when they stay a period of time and then i spend entire chapter on drinks because one of the longest yes one of the longest cat and mouse games is
whether or not our president drinks. [laughter] and if i was the press secretary this seems to be strategy one deny that you drink and then u someone prove that you drink say you don't drink that much. and two deny there's even a white house wine seller and then somebody proves that say there's not much in it. right. and then it is a huge cabinet of shame and fdr ftion probably or bar tender this chief throughout presidential history, and then i end by talking about the future of african-american cooks. there's nothing that's toking african-american from being named white house chief executive chef executive chef so a matter of the presidential taste so i go on to that. and that's how i end the book so first let me begin with this cat and mouse game between the first lady and white house physician. so as you know, eleanor roosevelt was fundamentally uninterested in food. and yes -- you know she was a brainy type, in fact -- on sunday night she would have
these scramble egg dinners which staff called scrambled eggs with brains because she would infight intek chuls over to talk about everything. now there's a little bit of controversy about whether eleanor roosevelt actually cooked the scrambled eggs or just stirred them at the last minute before they were served but may she had these scrambled egg salon. so the white house -- housekeeper henry was one in charge of the food. but the president -- president rose vement on a diet and want to stray from that diet so white house physician and -- eleanor roosevelt would team up to make sure he would stay on the diet so henry and diary memorialize kind of exchange between eleanor roosevelt and -- the doctor. and i'm going to read that now he was a navy vice admiral dr. macken tire what he said to roosevelt is call on me if you need help. dr. macken tire said to ms. roosevelt at the start. that's what eleanor called it when president could get upset about thing tizzy and tried to
get the president appetite back to normal he sent to new york for specialist and finally brought in doctors from the navy hospital and had dietitian arrived in uniform four times the president ate everything he was told to eat simply because it was ordered by the navy. the presidents reducing diet came from the navy and he was simple list on record cut out all fried foods okay so that was one directive from the doctor. but typically the president is going to get what they want to get and african-american staff is caught in the middle and so they often have to help the president out. and so i love this exchange with dealing with livey mcu duffy so lizzy was the wife of o.j. mcduffy who was president roosevelt long time valet so she eventually comes to the white house an works as the maid. and she would often accompany roosevelt on long trips but really interesting thing about -- lizzy mcduffy is that she had
an outside personality so she would entertain the president by doing puppet shows she had early iteration of the muppets one was called suicide other jezebel and she had have puppet shows and president loved them. and so she was a favorite of the president, and she actually she would campaign for the president. so in 1936, an election that wasn't a gimme for president roosevelt she was actually on the stump major cities across united states so i want to giver you an example ever kind of the campaigning that she was doing. this is from the baltimore afro american aron american newspaper, and says no man is here trough his valet for over 350 years since the prince made above statement, the world has debated on both sides of it. last week, this is elizabeth h. mcduffy white house cook and wife for president roosevelt valet taking stump before audience of 7 in st. louis class
roosevelt with lincoln, whose love of fellow men something akin to the define. and here's valet wife to whom her husband employer is hero that is news. but bigger news is the spectacle of the white house cook doing it a swell job as a campaign speaker. this is mcduffy cheered in st. louis, chicago, and gary, indiana, she went to make one speech. did make three, and could have made 24 more before returning to washington in order to cook the president's meals. so she went to a lot of cities that had a large african-american constituency and campaigned for president. federal hatch act it was in lace, and for whatever reason nobody tried to prosecute her under that. but she made such a difference that after the election was over, president roosevelt is actually called her into the oval office and thanks her prnlly for what she did for him so that shows relation they have. another interesting thing about lizzy mcduffy is during one of the white house dinners there was a movie executive from hollywood who was dining at the
whowtion and he took one look at her -- and said i want her in my next movie. does anybody want to guess what that movie is? gone with the wind. yes. she was in consideration that the oscar winning role got, and actually eleanor roosevelt wrote a letter on her behalf to director -- yes. yes kind of lobbying for that and there were newspaper reports of her getting the part and i think it's because walter kind of leaked that without verifying sources. can you imagine that happening today? [laughter] so a story that she got the part but ultimately did not get apartment but accompany to wells spring g and stay for long periods of time to get treatment for pole owe and her started going to georgia when he was a governor of new york and there he met a woman named daisy bonner and she's one of my favorite characters in this book. so daisy bonner private cook for
a local family, irwin family and when she would go to georgia for long periods of time to themselves with the president, the irwin family lent -- daisy bonner to her, to the pdr and she would stay in a cottage at little white house -- in warm springs and cook. and she introduced him had to all kinds of specialties like country captain i don't know you've or heard of this dish that's very popular in -- georgia. but essentially chicken curry dish, and she and president roosevelt would joke about it having a secret recipe with 45 ingredients that wasn't the case but their private joke. but -- she also cooked a lot of southern dell ka sis but one thing that fdr loved by daisy bonner was pigs feet. the way she cooked them was she would boil them and she would take them out of the pot and then broil them and split them and broil them and butter them
and that's how he liked them so stay with me. it is beginning to get divorce for a second. worse for a second so one of the interesting stories that he served pigs feet in the white house to winston churchill. and what he served were sweet and sour pigs feet. now, elon disco field is -- who was a long time butler in the white house who starts working in the hoover administration and then -- stays on well into the -- eisenhower so this is a scene that he paints. it was this type of pigs feet that he requested to be serve at the a luncheon just for the prime minister winston churchill and himself. prince martha of norway who lives in maryland during the war had a duke who often prepared pigs feet and had them brought to the president this dish. and this was sweet and sour pigs feet they had a twinkle like let's have them for the prime minister. when the luncheon was served and
prime minister started to help himself he inquired what is this? he was told sir this is pigs feet he said pigs feet? i've never heard of them and then he helped himself. after tasting them he said, very good, but sort of slimy. [laughter] the president laughed and said yes they are a bit but i'm ponged of them sometime we'll have them fried. we're upon the prime minister replied no thank you i don't believe i would care for them fried. then they both have a hearty laugh. okay so that's in the whowtion. but -- oh, interesting dish that daisy made and i have this recipe is that cheese souffle. now, is anybody here a? cook anybody cook souffle what is big concern about having a souffle rising and falling i'm about about to tell you about a miracle to rattle your soul and maybe your belly and one that daisy bonner made for fdr on the
last day of his life so "the new york times" offers this account -- at 1:15 mrs. bonner had it are the and she told valet author -- get the president to the table. the souffle is ready president said mer put it in the oven until i come over o my room mr. bonner explained reading atlanta constitution when it was ready. it came late becausefelt bad weather and she was worried about mail. he asked third time for the papers. so he gone right to reading when he came out, the artist was sketching him and he never sit for her -- he had to catch when she could the cook said. ..%
>> jfk was chronically late.whae force of plays, he time them at 15 minute intervals hope in th hoping he would arrive on time. those are the perils of making soufflé with our president. he was very moved by the president and had a close relationship. if you ever go to georgia go to the coo kitchen area she wrote n the wall, daisy cook the first and last meal for president roosevelt. it's encased in plastic. you can see how moved she was. she wanted to be considered the
first lady a presidential cooking. she had plans of opening a museum dedicated to food and president roosevelt but she does died before she could. daisy is another interesting character in my book. also want to talk to about drinks. there's a cat and mouse game about drinks in the white house. fdr embraced drinking culture. i talk about several alcoholic beverages, talk about wine, cocktails, punches and eggnog. going to reach a little bit about eggnog. this is from lillian rogers who is a long time made in the white house. she gives us an insight on how eggnog plays out in the white house. she observed speaking of liquids, going to give once more the recipe of a drink in my department. cocktail high balls were served upstairs and i had nothing to do
with them. the new year's eggnog was traditional in the white house was concerned with its making. the creamy mixture was prepared in the same way in the punch bowl was carried before the president. each time lifting is cut president roosevelt gave the same toast, to the united states. lillian declared after tasting some of the wet eggnog that president eisenhower made was very strong but the one that roosevelt had was also very strong. you see strong eggnog not only from the roosevelt administration but to the present day. i don't know about in the trump white house now but the ones the obama served in president clinton would knock you out. that is just a tradition. i think president roosevelt is most over the martini. that's where he gets his identity. lillian rogers reminisce that fdr claimed he did not know the exact formula because they have been worked up by family committee. his son jimmy said he liked a
mild martini and then franklin got old enough to speak up for a stronger martini. then johnny shot up so tall he demanded he insisted on a martini so dry. the president would be mysteriously mixing vermouth engine so no one can see with the formulas. when he was finished he was as a chairman of the committee he had the power to decide the ultimate taste of a martini and it -- at this point some people aghast at this were not sure they wanted a martini after all. missy would sip her favor were sometimes old-fashioned. when they had guess fdr would insist on mixing martinis for everyone and would break that he is the best martini mixer in the east. there are references to run base during call the haitian libation.
i've tried find the recipe but i can't. by all accounts it was awful. it is something that fdr really like to make. one other thing i forgot to mention that plays until white house food history is presidential pets. the white house executive chef has often been in charge of feeding the animals at the white house and making special recipes for the dogs. there was a time when white house pet messed up the plans for the white house cook. this involved a dog name links. he was a setter that was on the scene. according to white house reports, on the morning of marcf fried eggs and ham set out for the resident staff. the white house cook made this and stepped away to do something else. when they returned they were all gone. they realize this was because
lynx had helped himself to a nice hearty meal. the press had a lot of fun with it and staged a photo of links eating ham and eggs off the plate. the cook was upset so soon after it was announced that lynx was leaving the white house to spend more time with his family. and that paved the way for the more familiar dog. one thing that was interesting is i find overtime these cooks fit into three boxes. they were culinary artists who are celebrated in their time. if you know anything about the food reputation of the fdr web white house is not great. people would have second thoughts of weather to come to a state dinner. i would have to admit i was engaging in race pry because i'm
thinking there's all these african-american cooks on staff how could the food be that nasty? a lot of the blame rests on henrietta nesbitt and lillian parks rogers in her diary sheds light on this. the african-americans who cooked for roosevelt would often be doing their thing and henrietta nesbitt would come up behind them and adjust the seasoning. whatever they were making she messed it up so the food never worked out. but i want to point out the african-americans i did find through my research and i did a lot here looking for resident staff. the main part of my research was old newspapers. a lot of companies are digitizing and if you can just figure out the terms used at that time you can find out a lot about the cooks. i found ida allen, the chief cook. the term white house executive chef does not come into existence until 1961.
jacqueline kennedy created that term. the four that there called first cook, head cook, or chief cook. then there is armstead burnett who started as a pantry man, worked in the white house for a long time and then he leaves during the johnson administration to start his catering business in the washington, d.c. area. daisy who i mentioned, james carter, there was a jimmy carter in the white house before president carter. loretta deans who is assistant cook, lizzie mcduffie, elizabeth moore and catherine smith. in her diary henrietta nesbitt has a lot of praise, she said even though she was temperamental she could work magic can make anything happen if it needed to. so you get an idea of the plan the white house staff. when the roosevelts come to the white house they actually and a
segregated practice. back on the time of president taft he hired a woman named mrsa segregationist. even though there is a multiracial cooking staff she created cap segregated evening's spaces. she had a separate table for whites and blacks. by the time eleanor roosevelt gets to the white house she rectifies the situation by fiery most of the white people. i'll let you decide if that's progress or not. no longer segregation is he pretty much of one race working in the kitchen overall we see we have cooks who are culinary artists and many times their family confidants. presidents go to their funerals their weddings, they send them notes and gifts one significant family events happen. we see presidents moved when they have to move the -- the
resident staff winds up in the present staff ghost on the line thank them for their service. there's often silver rights advocates, pressing for african-americans to have their humanity accepted in the broader society. we saw what mcduffie did for fdr while campaigning. another example is upper right. lyndon johnson will pressing for the 1964 civil rights act he uses her jim crow experiences to persuade members of congress to support the bill. the family would try back and forth from texas to washington, d.c. suffer suffer so many indignities that she said not going to make the right anymore. it's a shame that the president could casted when the 1964 civil rights act is passed he gives
her one of the pens and says you deserve this as much as anyone. one of the big takeaways from this book is that these african-americans because of the relationship with the president first family a lot of our presidents chose not to open that window but for the ones who did our nation would've been much better for it. thank you so much. [applause] we have time for questions. >> have a question about how the fdr administration differed from the administration before from herbert hoover. we know from anecdotes that hired help what happened with
african-american cooks there seem to be a lot more comrade ran openness between the staff and first family and others. there didn't seem to have the rigidity in hoover or the coolidge administration. coolidge will come in the kitchen and critique what the service reading as it seems like reading a lot of the food here now with the food. >> what about the wilson administration? he desegregated the civil service. >> they still have the segregation but wilson was a southerner there's a lot of reports of him meeting the southern food by white house staff. there's more during the harding
administration but he love their food. >> so the harding administration seem to be a feeling of calm robbery. harding was big and waffles. the cook that would make these waffles were celebrated and talked about how much he loved their waffles. >> he waffled in a good way do you know daisy bonner and -- government? and i haven't read your book yet but in the next administration can you expand on the. >> i do not know if they actually met. i didn't find a record of it. i don't know but the second one
was over something silly. the first lady, mrs. truman wanted a stick of butter and mrs. nesbitt refused to give it to her. which is interesting, so they had a few tussles before that but i think that was the final blow. she was gone a short time after that that's a great question because after that alonzo feels was a long time butler became maître d' and another guy was maître d' and field starts to get prominence in the white house and eventually he becomes maître d' later. that was a pivotal event over a stick of butter. at the first lady want something she should get a but that doesn't always happen. >> the position of the chief executive chef, these tenured appointments or do they carry over from administration to
administration? >> like everyone else they serve at the pleasure of the president. so typically the white house kitchen if there's going to be changes usually the chief of the executive chef and maybe the pastry chef. when a president comes in they can decide who to staff the kitchen. most presidents decide to carry over the previous cook but they might bring an additional cook to make meals for the family. jacqueline kennedy created a second floor kitchen and dining space in the white house. she turned margit truman's bedroom into a small kitchen pantry because the family used to eat in the stunning room and she thought it was too cavernous and not intimate enough. now there's a dining space on the second floor. lyndon johnson before president obama lyndon johnson was the last president to have a second cook cooking for the family. most presidents have the white house chief executive chef to everything. cook for the family and guests.
>> including make recommendations for their replacements? >> sometimes they will make a recommendation but typically somebody on the staff may be elevated or somebody the president knows. most cases it someone the president knows from their prior life before the presidency if they're going to make a change. most sense 1960 most presidents have kept a holdover from the previous administration. a guy named henry was a swiss born guys serve from johnson all the way to reagan and then there was a reagan chef and george w. bush had the same one and then walter came in with the clintons and served to the end of the first term and then an assistant chef who came in under the clinton administration got elevated to white house executive chef and she's been there so she's executive chef right now.
>> is their food budget? >> yes. before you get to truman essentially our presidents had to pay for food out of their own pocket. truman eventually gets a budget so if you order food on air force one a presidential yacht that actually get billed against that account. it's not a free-for-all in terms of food. there is a budget that gets allocated by congress so that's another thing that goes into the food story. the creation of it is a reflection because after the white house is renovated in the 50s there is more need for staff because of the installation of air-conditioning. truman was not going to get more money from congress to have more resident staff. he takes the staff off the
presidential yacht and makes him the staff of the white house mass which is a private space for senior staff. that's why the navy operations existed. a lot of the food that's cooked is run by navy chefs that the white house kitchen staff. >> thank you for speaking today. was there anyone in lambert that stood out near investigate and one more thing, was there ever a case in which someone had an allergic reaction to something that was it eaten? >> the first example is the state dinner from cook for nelson mandela. that was created by an
african-american chef named patrick clark who is offered the chef job under president clinton. he was well-known african-american chef in new york but he turned it down because it was too much of a pay cut. >> he was making six figures as a cook at the hotel across the street from the white house. at that time the white house executive chef salary was 58000. a definite drop off and he had several kids so he turned it top. the clintons asked him to create this meal which was a sesame crusted halibut with red curry and lemongrass vegetables is a cornerstone of the meal. i have the recipe my book if you want to replicate it. the clintons actually asked him to, be the guest of honor at that meal. he actually did not cook the meal but he created it. the only one for allergies that comes to mind is president george herbert walker bush after you had sushi or whatever in japan. this leads to another question people ask, is there
presidential taste tester? yes there is. it tends to be the opposition leader in congress. [laughter] no. it's the white house chef. there the last ones to taste stuff that comes for the president. >> thank you. can you give us insight into our president trump. does he have any likes, i know he doesn't drink. >> we don't get a lot of information about what president trump likes but what i have heard so far as he loves meatloaf and he loves the well-done steak with catch up.
there's a lot of chronicles about the fast food. the fast food label is unfair because when you're on the campaign trail that's what you're getting a lot of times. i do know he loves meatloaf and comfort food. otherwise we don't get a lot of information about what's going on in the trump white house kitchen. >> thank you thank you so much. [applause] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] >> the author howard recalls the life of american debutante turn spot.
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