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Official Inaugural Ball Menus: Italian Chicken Roulade; Tortellini with Roasted Organic Tomato Cream Sauce

ballchef.jpgGreg Sharpe was hired as the executive chef at the Washington Convention Center shortly before George W. Bush's second inauguration. So he's had some practice with this. But Sharpe is under the gun to prepare a meal for 42,000 ball-goers Sunday when Barack Obama hosts six of his 10 official inaugural balls at the Convention Center.

Sharpe, who is overseeing a bulked up staff of 120 in the kitchen, has his hands full, as the preparation began today and will continue with only short breaks until Tuesday night. He is running double-shifts from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., then from 3 p.m. until midnight.

"We'll go all night, if we have to," Sharpe said.

The menu this year features Italian chicken Roulade (chicken breast stuffed with roasted artichokes, peppers and pine nuts), and two pastas, including a tortellini with a roasted organic tomato cream sauce. Just today, Sharpe's staff made 900 gallons of the sauce (that's the chicken dish, frozen and being cut, in the background of the picture of Sharpe above).

Here are some of the statistics that Sharpe is dealing with:

8,750 pounds of tortellini 8,250 pounds of Italian chicken roulade 6,000 pounds of penne pasta 1,000 pounds of carrot sticks 150,000 beverage napkins 10,000 bottles of wine 130,000 pounds of ice bagged

As for dessert, don't count on it -- unless you have tickets to the Obama Home States Ball or the Biden Home States Ball. Those are the only two that will get the bite-size desserts. The meals, served reception style, will be free. No word on the alcohol yet.

Sharpe isn't panicking. He served a sit-down dinner for 17,000 members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority last summer, which the Guiness Book is considering for a world record for largest sit-down dinner ever. The only thing about this inaugural dinner, he said, is that the Secret Service has been "10 times tougher than they were during Bush's inaugural."

Agents will sweep the kitchen, then remain in the food prep areas overseeing all the activities, Sharpe said.

And finally, Sharpe said he's waiting on the specialized menu from the musical stars who will perform that night -- a chore that could be more difficult than cooking for all the patrons.

By David A Nakamura  |  January 16, 2009; 3:10 PM ET  | Category:  Entertainment , Food & Dining , The Balls
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Sounds pretty good, but now I'm wondering if the other 4 balls will get good food too. People have been complaining about the location of the Southern Ball, but I assumed the food would be of the same quality (since it costs the same amount or more!). Hope that's the case! All in all, that's pretty nice that they are having meal-type food instead of just cheese and crackers.

Posted by: superfille | January 16, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I find it disguesting that the performers are submitting "specialized menus" for the event. They should be grateful for the honor of performing at the event - and without having to shell out hundreds of dollars for a ticket that they could easily afford.

Posted by: smhendrick | January 16, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I am stuck with the Southern ball, which I really can't complain about because it is an honor to attend, but I am worried about not getting the same quality of an event as the convention center guest.

Posted by: Candace1231 | January 17, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

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