Chait's right, that Lisa Schiffren post about Sam Kass as a new White House chef is absurd. That said, Schiffren has a shred of a point when it comes to the annoyingness of Alice Waters.
After the election, Waters was pushing Obama to can the current White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford, who'd gotten that job under President Bush, and replace her with someone more in tune with Waters's ideas about local and organic food. Unfortunately, Waters didn't know the first thing about what Comerford actually thought about food, because it turned out that--as Comerford's predecessor as White House executive chef Walter Scheib pointed out--Comerford already did use local and organic ingredients in her cooking. I think Gawker, of all places, put it best:
Alice Waters, who despite being terribly annoying has indeed done many admirable things in her life, wrote some terrible letter to Obama about how she'd help him choose a new White House chef, who would cook local organic things and be committed to hippie bullshit like she is. The implication was that whomever terrible Bush's White House Chef was was probably a monster, just like he is, and because Bush is an uncouth cowboy jerk from Texas, he probably just ate Manwiches every night, and he had all of his cans of Manwich trucked in from an A&P in Waco. Laura just ate vokda and pills for dinner, obv.
But, hah, the Bushes are rich privileged people with a full-time in-home professional chef so of fucking course they were all eating the same locally grown organic nonsense Alice Waters serves. . . .
Today's NYT story hiring on Sam Kass's hiring to help Comerford in the White House kitchen reports:
Mr. Kass’s appointment should please chefs like Alice Waters, who have lobbied the Obamas to set an example for the rest of the country by emphasizing food that is healthy, local and sustainable. It further suggests that a vegetable garden on the White House grounds, another of Ms. Waters’s dreams, could be on the horizon.
But, as the NYT previously reported, the White House already does have a vegetable garden on the White House grounds, maybe just not one as big as Waters would like.
I think it's great the Obamas kept Comerford. I think it's great the Obamas hired Kass. And I think it would be great if everyone just started ignoring what Alice Waters has to say when it comes to the White House kitchen.
P.S. Extra bonus anti-Waters sentiment, from Anthony Bourdain, here. (Via Gawker.)
P.P.S. Full disclosure: I've never eaten at Chez Panisse. Friends and relatives in Berkeley tell me it's gotten pretty overrated and you can get as good--if not better--food elsewhere in Berkeley, for cheaper and with less hassle. But I suppose if I ever do have a meal at Chez Panisse I might begin to see the wisdom of Waters's White House food pronouncements.