The canapés included ham biscuits. The brunch menu began with smoked salmon carpaccio and asparagus, followed by seared filet mignon with morel sauce, fresh scrambled eggs, potatoes, tomato, and watercress; dessert was strawberries with bruléed sabayon. But the high point was easily the presence of Howard University graduate and world-renowned opera singer Jessye Norman. Holder presented her with the WPAS’s Ambassador of the Arts Award. Audra McDonald sang in her honor.
After the performance and meal, guests lingered to talk with Norman, who held court at her table, and to step outside on the balcony for the view, which was made inviting when the hotel staff opened all the rooms' French doors. The weather was surprisingly temperate—about 50 degrees—and with the bright sunshine it felt almost like a spring day.
The brunch was made possible, in part, by a contribution from Reginald Van Lee, who is chairman of the WPAS board of directors and also a friend of President and Mrs. Obama. He welcomed the guests, along with Rachel Pearson, who is the organization’s development committee chair.