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Posted at 12:58 PM ET, 05/19/2010

Celebrity chef Rick Bayless: Cooking up controversy for White House dinner?

By Liz Kelly

Rick Bayless poses at his Frontera Grill restaurant in Chicago. (AP)

Is celebrity chef Rick Bayless cooking up controversy ahead of the second official Obama administration White House dinner?

Wary of any undue attention after last November's infamous gate-crashing by Virginia fame-seekers Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the White House -- armed with a new social secretary -- has been working overtime to limit press surrounding tonight's event.

But Chicago-based restaurateur Bayless has been tweeting since his arrival in D.C. earlier this week to serve as guest chef for the tonight's dinner in honor of Mexican president Felipe Calderón. While Bayless has commented on everything from the "nice" White House staff to the "rather small" kitchen, he insists (yes, via Twitter) that he has not -- as reported by the Chicaco Sun Times -- tweeted from the White House itself.

But, whether tweeting from inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or not, is Bayless out of line? As Robin Givhan reported in today's Post, even state dinner wait staffers are expected to keep zipped lips:

These are experts who are used to passing cocktails to presidents and prime ministers, and who have become skilled at turning a deaf ear to the most enticing -- or even incriminating -- political chatter.

Me, I'm inclined to leniency. Unless Bayless's 140 character missives start, say, accusing first dog Bo of kitchen hijinx or, you know, revealing actual state secrets -- I say let the man Tweet.

Celeb watchers take note: Salma Hayek and Eva Longoria Parker are both expected at tonight's dinner.

By Liz Kelly  | May 19, 2010; 12:58 PM ET
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The job of wait staff (aka "servers") is to serve. The job of any celebrity -- chef or otherwise -- is to draw attention to him (or her) self.

(And in Bayless' case, his daughter. Hopefully he's left her home for the occasion.)

Posted by: Ralphinjersey | May 19, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

With all the problems in this country right now, from the oil spill to huge unemployment, why is Obama throwing lavish parties with celebrity chefs? That's a slap in the face to those of us who are struggling. When I voted for him I didn't know he was going live and rule like a king. What a disappointment he is. Oh well, 2 1/2 more years.

Posted by: rlc5495 | May 19, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they just let Calderon go to Taco Bell? The ungrateful slug doesn't like Arizona's attempts to protect themselves from his illegals, so he can take his objections and stuff them up where the sun doesn't shine.
The Odumbo mutts are acting like royalty with our tax dollars, while they are just a couple of incompetent leeches. Nothing more.

Posted by: LarryG62 | May 19, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

State dinner ≠ lavish party. Get a grip.

Posted by: dstu | May 19, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I'll be happy to wait for Salma and ELP.

Posted by: reddragon1 | May 19, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

State dinners are an important part of international relations and diplomacy - it's hardly a "lavish party". Haven't you ever done business over dinner? It's the same concept - just on a much larger scale. Be realistic - there are customs and traditions that accompany the Presidency. Not holding state dinners would hardly help those without jobs or who are otherwise struggling.

Posted by: tsheehan | May 19, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Lavish parties and state dinners are legitimate fodder for celebrity blogs. International relations (unless they are of the Mark Sanford type) and diplomacy generally are not.

Posted by: reddragon1 | May 19, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they just let Calderon go to Taco Bell?


cuz Mighty Taco is 10 times better!!!


Posted by: nall92 | May 19, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

dstu, reddragon and tsheehan,
Don't you know that it's unfair to engage in a battle of wits with unarmed opponents?

Posted by: VaLGaL | May 19, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else read where the Salahis are now demanding an apology from the White House for the way they feel they were mistreated in the wake of last fall's state dinner? Hahahahahaha...

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 19, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what the menu will be at the State Dinner, but based on my dining experience at Frontera, the eating should be excellent. I recall a rumor that the Obamas were trying to persuade Rick Bayless to become the White House Chef.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 19, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

you are rich, you no more voted for Obama than you were around to vote for Wilson.
What do you think "State Dinners" are and for?
Do you acually expect our leader of the free world to have other heads of state over for Beenies & Weenies? Get real!

Posted by: tniederberger | May 19, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh LarryG62, you're just angry that you weren't invited.

If Calderon stuck his objections whee the sun doesn't shine, wouldn't you be evicted?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 19, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

It seems a little strange to me that we're serving Mexican food from a celebrity American chef to the Mexican president. Are we trying to make him feel welcome, or show that we can do Mexican food just as well? Or imply that he would prefer Mexican to some other type of American cuisine? Either way, it seems a bit patronizing.

(Does anyone remember what was served at the state dinner for the Indian Prime Minister?)

Posted by: elsiss | May 19, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Calderone and wife seemed culture locked, and pitiful.
Mrs. Calderones dresses looked like something out of a DC Goodwill.
The whole "where Mexicans are , Mexico is" has grown uite stale and unpalatable, so the welcome of Aztlan is over.
Time to sort the herd....they cannot Americanize.

Posted by: dottydo | May 20, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

People shall just learn to do their job at their work without twitting or blogging at work. If I was an employer and noticed any of my employees twitting, chatting on messengers, skyping, or icqing, or aoling, or whatever you like to call it non-related to job that he/she is hired to do. He/She definitely has to go. Esp. in such a special event, that guest chef shall be charged treason for releasing any info regarding to that event or place. He is hired to do the job not hired to fool around or gossip. Wake up, if you are an employee of any companies, stop doing your personal things at work, just focus on your job. The economy is bad already, we do not need people who do not cherish their job. Remember the code of ethics at work and manners.

Posted by: IamHandsome | May 20, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

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