Former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier has fond memories of the Clinton era but says his initial reaction to Bill Clinton was that he was “scary.” It had nothing to do with Clinton’s policies or politics—just his appetite. Famously, before open-heart surgery and becoming a vegan, Clinton was known for his gourmand habits.
“He had a big appetite, scary,” says Mesnier. “He could eat five or six pork chops.” He says the White House kitchen staff “had to be ready.”
Clinton arrived in 1993 with not just his appetite but also some food allergies, including chocolate and flour. “But he loved dessert,” says Mesnier. “It made it very difficult for a pastry chef.” He recalls the episode of a strawberry cake he made one evening. Clinton devoured half of it all by himself, and the next morning he wanted more. “No one could find the cake,” says Mesnier, who had a face-to-face with the distraught commander in chief. “Clinton was pounding on the table and shouting, ‘I want my goddamned cake.’”
The chef, who is given to flights of humor, says that when the cake could not be found, “We decided [Vice President Al] Gore must have eaten it.”
Mesnier made the remarks at a luncheon at the Katzen Center for the Arts in connection with the Washington Winter Show. He was the White House pastry chef for 26 years, starting with the Carter administration and departing after the second term of President George W. Bush. He’s now a lecturer and the author of three books, and asserts, “Every story I tell you is true.”