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Confessions of a Former White House Chef

by Chef Pierre Gateau

As a boy growing up in the French countryside, my young mind was occupied with thoughts of catching tadpoles and learning how to skip rocks across my grandfather's pond. I never would have dreamed of one day becoming the Executive Chef of the White House. When I was selected for that position during George W. Bush's first term as president, it was an honor beyond compare. I somehow found the courage to leave behind my five star restaurant in Paris, and move to Washington D.C. to become a cook for the world's most powerful people. In my new home I strove for excellence, and worked day and night planning meals that would meet the approval of the first family. Those first few months of my employment seemed to go very well, and my food received only praise. The president's joking and easy-going manner helped alleviate the anxiety that was sometimes felt by me and my kitchen staff. I also developed a close friendship with first lady Laura, and we had many interesting discussions about art and literature.

After 9/11, as you would expect, the mood in the White House became more serious. The dinner conversations were suddenly filled with talk of terror and war. In the months leading up to the Iraq War, I began to notice another unsettling trend. Some of the more conservative dinner guests began making derogatory comments, not just about my food but also about my French heritage. President Bush himself began to take part in these childish exchanges, endowing me with the nickname "Frenchie." I pretended not to care, and tried to remain hospitable. The coup de gras came when the belligerent lunch guests one day informed me that they were abandoning the seafood bisque and cucumber aspic my staff had prepared in favor of the wretched "freedom fries" and burgers served in the Capitol Building cafeteria.

This was one slap in the face too many. I felt completely disgraced. It seemed that my hard work was no longer appreciated, and my role at the White House had been reduced to that of a puppet for the amusement of the president's guests. How was I to endure this hostile work environment? I will admit here for the first time that my thoughts turned to revenge. I decided if I was going to lose my job, I would go out in a blaze of glory. So, they thought my food was bad? I would show them what bad food really tasted like. I began to concoct dishes that were truly worthy of these ungrateful pigs.

It was a few days after the Halloween dinner when Mrs. Bush called me into her private study. She had tirelessly defended my reputation since the beginning, but now I suspected that her faith in me had run out.

"Chef Pierre, your cooking as of late has been...let's just say it's not what it used to be. You know, I had an interesting discussion with Mr. Cheney a few months ago. He accused you of what amounts to culinary sabotage, and seemed concerned about your possible ties to terrorist groups. I didn't want to believe it. I gave him assurances about your character. Then I began to hear the same thing from others.

"The first alarm bell for me went off when you spelled out 'Imbecile in Chief' on my husband's birthday cake. Then after this last incident, with the pumpkin whatchamacallit, three of our dinner guests were hospitalized. The secret service has started giving me ultimatums. They want you forcibly removed from the premises. I'm sorrry. I can't make excuses for you anymore..." A teardrop rolled down her cheek.

"As of today your employment here is terminated. I will have all your belongings shipped back to your home in France."

Two burly Secret Service agents entered the room and took hold of me by the shoulders. We quickly exited the White House, and they put me in the back of a limousine which drove me to the Days Inn where I was to stay until the departure of my flight across the Atlantic.

It was a bittersweet day, and I began to realize that my selfish scheme had brought harm not only to my enemies, but also to my friends. I swore that from then on my cooking skills would never be used for evil again, but only for the betterment of mankind.

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...