Macrons, Bidens to Dine on Maine Lobster, Beef and Artisanal Cheeses at State Dinner
WASHINGTON — Guests attending the first state dinner of the Biden administration will dine on butter poached Maine lobster and Calotte of beef while being serenaded by New Orleans, Louisiana, native Jon Batiste, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden revealed during a press preview Wednesday afternoon.
The dinner, of course, is being held in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, who have been visiting Washington the past two days, and will be served in a candlelit pavilion set up on the South Lawn.
“My mother made every dinner a special occasion,” the first lady told reporters who had gathered in the State Dining Room for the preview. “I learned that setting a table can be an act of love — and once I had my own family, I did my best to keep that tradition alive.
“Our first State Dinner … will be no different. It’s an expression of welcome and friendship — a way to connect through a language that transcends words. And as each dish comes to the table, so too does the meaning behind it,” Biden said.
The overall design of the dinner was inspired by the shared colors of the two nations’ flags — red, white and blue — and their common values of liberty and democracy, equality and fellowship, the first lady said.
Each table will feature vivid red roses, the official flower of the nation’s capital, and blue delphiniums, alongside white irises, the official flower of France, “their intricate petals reflecting the interwoven history of our nations,” Biden said.
The roses, American Beauties, were originally bred in France and brought to the United States almost two centuries ago.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States, will also play a role in the festivities, a rendering serving as a backdrop for the president’s toast and also as a feature in the menu programs.
Speaking of the president’s toast, it will be made with American sparkling wine served in French-made glasses.
Oak and other wood tones will set off the chairs and wall paneling of the pavilion, while the fleur-de-lis is woven into graphical elements in the room, mixed in with French, art-nouveau stained glass.
The menu, created by White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford, will feature:
- Butter poached Maine lobster.
- American Osetra caviar.
- Delicata squash raviolo.
- Tarragon sauce.
- Calotte of beef, shallot marmalade.
- Triple-cooked butter potatoes.
- Sunchoke and creamed watercress.
- Red wine reduction.
In addition, there will be a course of American artisanal cheeses featuring three award winning cheeses:
- Rogue River Blue, the 2019/2020 World Cheese Awards World Champion Gold made by Rogue Creamery with milk sourced from Grant Pass, Oregon.
- Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, a soft ripened goat cheese, the 2022 World Cheese Bronze Medalist.
- Deer Creek cheddar cheese from a small family run creamery in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
After dinner White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison and her team will present the guests with orange chiffon cake, roasted pears with citrus sauce and crème fraîche ice cream.
The featured beverages will be a Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay “Napa Valley” 2018, an Anakota Cabernet Sauvignon “Knights Valley” 2019, and Roederer Estate Brut Rosé N/V.
As already mentioned, Jon Batiste, who in addition to being from New Orleans was also bandleader and musical director of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” from 2015 to 2022, will provide the evening’s musical entertainment.
He will be accompanied by his father, Michael Batiste, and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, and the Army and Air Force Strolling Strings.
The State Dinner was produced with support from Fête, an event planning and design production firm led by founder Jung Lee.
“The journey of planning this event has been an unforgettable experience,” the first lady said. “I’ve had the chance to collaborate with truly brilliant individuals — especially Carlos Elizondo, our White House social secretary. So many people have worked for months to make this visit magical and meaningful — and I’m grateful for all of them.
“Our hope is that the end result will be a night that balances the beauty of our friendship with the seriousness of our purpose. And we hope that French citizens everywhere feel the warmth of our welcome,” Biden added.