By Kevin Canessa
Posted January 28, 2014 at 6:15 p.m.
Former White House Chef John Moeller remembers quite well Sept. 11, 2001. It was supposed the be the day of the annual Congressional Picnic on the White House Lawn.
And then, of course, everything changed.
“We were preparing things in the kitchen and there were 15 of us cooking that day,” Moeller said. “Normally there are just five of us in the kitchen, but we needed many more people because of the crowd. Someone came in and told us the first tower had been hit. And a few minutes later, I went over to the small TV in the storage room just as the second plane hit. We knew it was a terrorist attack at that moment.
“Then, not too much later, the chief usher came in and told us, ‘The Pentagon just got hit. Let’s go. Secure the food — we’re getting out of here.’ ”
Hours later, Moeller finally made it home after walking most of the way to his apartment in Washington, D.C.
This is one of many stories about being a chef in the White House that Moeller will share Feb. 4 when he’s a special guest at The Lyric Theatre in Stuart.
During “A Conversation With John Moeller,” the man who cooked for presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and their families from 1992 to 2005, will tell what it was like to be the cook for some of the world’s most influential people and leaders.
“I suppose I was just at the right place at the right time to be hired,” said Moeller, a native of Lancaster, Pa. “I’d been working at a French restaurant in 1987 in D.C., and one night, another chef invited me to go to the Mayflower Hotel with him for a gathering of other French chefs. From there, we remained in touch, he became a sous chef at the White House, and when he was promoted, he hired me to replace him as a sous chef.”
Of the presidents he served, he said the elder Bush had the most sophisticated tastes. And he also admitted the pretzel the younger Bush choked on came from him.
“It was a Lancaster pretzel that the other presidents enjoyed, so I figured I’d keep them around,” Moeller said. “So yes, those pretzels included the one he choked on.”
Moeller also will offer an interactive cooking demonstration and five-course meal the next day at In the Kitchen in Tequesta based on meals he’s prepared at the White House.
Conversation with Chef Moeller
What: A Conversation With (former) White House Chef John Moeller
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 4
Where: The Lyric Theatre, 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart
Cost: $25 general admission; $50 premium ticket, which includes a copy of “Dining at the White House”
Information: 772-286-7827; www.lyrictheatre.com
What: An Interactive Cooking Demo and Five-Course Meal with Chef John Moeller
When: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5
Where: In the Kitchen, Gallery Square North, 289 Tequesta Drive, Tequesta
Cost: $185 per person
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