Seymour

Washington’s journalists who cover the White House recently descended on the Washington Hilton ballroom to have their annual pat-on-the-back White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

With approximately 3,000 mouths to feed in one evening, the meal preparation for the event is enormous, yet tedious. With guests’ legit dietary restrictions, allergies and a variety of fad dietary trends, Washington Hilton executive Chef Andre Cote had his work cut out for him.

“Roll Call,” a Washington-based publication, interviewed the chef on how he prepares for the evening.

He says he knows about half of the dietary restrictions before the big night arrives. This means that he would need to have an excess and variety of plates prepared for other guests’ food preferences. The chef whipped up 200 different variations of salad, entrée and desserts.

Just before the big day, approximately 100 employees alone are responsible for cutting and processing fruits and vegetables for the dinner. Then, another 200 to 400 cooks are stationed in the Hilton’s kitchen cooking the food and preparing the plates before and throughout the evening.

The preparation for the 2020 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner began as soon as this year’s dinner wrapped up.

Enough about the food, you say. What about the event?

Well, let’s just say that if you didn’t tune in to the broadcast, you didn’t miss much.

The introduction by White House Correspondents’ Association president Oliver Knox, who is also the SiriusXM chief D.C. correspondent, was dedicated in large part to woe-is-me comments about his tough job and jabs at President Donald Trump.

This year marks the third time that President Trump has skipped the dinner and I don’t blame him one bit. He is the first of the past 15 presidents to skip the annual event. This year, Trump even called on White House staff to boycott the event. They obeyed, but the after parties were fair game.

Without the president or the usual celebrities and featured comedian in attendance, the dinner was missing its glamour and not covered as heavily by the press as it had been in the past.

You may recall that last year, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders attended the event, where she was made fun of right to her face. It was completely below the belt and beneath the profession.

This year, the main speaker was historian Ron Chernow—a good choice to avoid the massive criticisms the event received last year.

Upon learning that a comedian was replaced with a historian, last year’s raunchy comedian Michelle Wolf tweeted that the White House Correspondents’ Association is a bunch of “cowards,” and “The media is complicit.”

The next day, CNN hosted a “Political Hangover” brunch with cheeky-named cocktails on the “Barr Menu” (named for U.S. Attorney General William Barr), such as the “Collusion,” which contained Russian vodka and orange juice. Then, there was the “Swing, Tweet, Repeat” cocktail, which was a spiked Arnold Palmer drink. Fore!

Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.

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