1X Area chefs offer a feast fit for a presidential candidate

By Holly Ebel

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

If, on this Election Day, you were asked to prepare a meal for the presidential candidates, what would you serve?

Over the course of this campaign, little snippets of their culinary likes and dislikes have emerged.

John McCain is not big on vegetables, likes Mexican food, is fond of ribs, pepperoni pizza and chocolate ice cream.


Barack Obama is a lighter eater, favoring fish and other seafood, though he also likes Mexican food. Lamb is a favorite but he is not much on desserts or sweets.

With that in mind, several area chefs were asked what they would serve the candidates. Here are their choices:

Tim MacCarty, executive chef of the Mayo Foundation House, has had years of experience preparing meals for prominent figures in public life. "For McCain, I would serve cream of pumpkin soup followed by smoked lamb chops, red potatoes stuffed with cambezola cheese and grilled vegetables," he said. "Our popovers are one of the signature items so I would serve those. Dessert would be creme brulee, another house favorite."

MacCarty offered a somewhat lighter menu for Obama — Fall root vegetable consomme, a classic preparation of roasted beef tenderloin with natural au jus, oven roasted julienne sweet potatoes and asparagus bundles. A white chocolate raspberry tart would finish it off.

"I would start McCain’s dinner with a basket of our fresh bread assortment with a pear walnut salad," said Chris Rohe, owner and executive chef at Prescott’s. "Then I would fix him the roasted duck legs with the orange marmalade glaze and a vegetable rice. Dessert? What else but the baked Alaska.

"Our pork chop often comes out ahead in local polls of favorites so that is what I would prepare for Obama along with our garlic mashed potatoes," Rohe adds. "For a salad, our Boston lettuce with a blue cheese wedge. Even though he is not much of a dessert person he would have to try our homemade apple cinnamon ice cream."

A good old-fashioned comfort food sort of meal is what Jim Nicholas of Theresa’s at the Ramada would serve McCain — Bacon-wrapped meat loaf with a wild mushroom gravy, green beans almondine and garlic smashed red potatoes. He would also serve a fresh garden salad, and for dessert, a piece of chocolate cake with a good strong cup of coffee.

"I’d start Obama off with a fresh spinach salad with a poppy seed dressing," Nicholas said. "Then I would do a roasted beef tenderloin with a porcini mushroom demi-glace. On the side, Obama would get candied parsnips and a Maytag-stuffed Yukon Gold potato. Espresso creme brulee with fresh berries would be dessert."


"I think of McCain as more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy," says Nick Lensing of the Rochester International Event Center. "From me he would get a great steak along with blue cheese mashed red potatoes and a garden salad. For dessert? Apple pie ala mode.

"As for Obama, he strikes me as being more of an adventurous eater as well as a healthier one so I would fix some kind of fish, like halibut or red snapper, with blanched green beans, a simple preparation. I’d end it with a sorbet for dessert. That is light, not too sweet and refreshing."

Howard Snitzer, the new chef at the Marriott, came up with an eclectic menu for both. Obama would be served an appetizer of shrimp toast served over a little seaweed salad. "I’ve re-worked an old favorite," he said. Snitzer would also add what he calls a Midwest salad of baby greens, Northern bean relish, and julienne tomatoes topped with blue corn tortilla crisps and a mango cumin vinaigrette followed by an all-natural steak, a specialty sweet potato dauphine and whatever fresh vegetable was available for grilling.

"Since he is not a fan of sweets, I'd give him cognac and a cigar," Snitzer said.

Playing to McCain’s fondness for Mexican food, Snitzer would present him with a crab-stuffed black bean tamale and a side of jicama slaw with a honey chipotle sauce. "One of my specialties is key lime cheesecake," he said. "That is what he gets for dessert."

Holly Ebel is a Rochester freelance writer.

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