Official Inaugural Ball Menus: Italian Chicken Roulade; Tortellini with Roasted Organic Tomato Cream Sauce
Greg 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.
David A Nakamura
January 16, 2009; 3:10 PM ET
Food & Dining
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