This year, as they have every Passover since coming to the White House, President and Mrs. Obama hosted the annual White House Seder. The tradition dates back to 2008, when the President celebrated Passover with staffers and friends on the campaign trail. After his election the President fulfilled his promise to host the Seder “next year in the White House” if he was elected. This year’s Seder incorporated traditional elements and foods of the Seder, including the Gefilte Fish Matzo Ball Soup, the Hillel Sandwich, and “Dayenu.”
There were several new elements as well. Two chefs who specialize in Jewish cooking—Susan Barocas and Vered Guttman—assisted White House Chef Cris Comerford with the meal and brought new additions to the menu, including a salad of quinoa cooked in coconut milk with Tuscan kale and roasted yams, and chicken with green olives. Underscoring how the Exodus, one of humanity’s great liberation stories, resonates so strongly in the American experience, guests also read the Emancipation Proclamation.
Vered, who writes the “Modern Manna” blog for the English edition of Ha’aretz, wrote about what it was like to be a guest chef for the seder here.
The full menu for this year, prepared by White House Chef Cris Comerford, White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, Susan Barocas and Vered Guttman, included:
- Gefilte fish
- Chicken soup with matzoh balls
- Salad of quinoa cooked in coconut milk with Tuscan kale and roasted yams
- Wilted spinach
- Carrot soufflé
- Passover Noodle kugel
- Roasted potatoes with garlic and onion
- Roasted sweet potatoes
- Seared aalmon with roasted artichokes
- Chicken with preserved lemons and green olives
- Braised beef brisket
- Raspberry ganache marjolaine
- Passover brownies
- Passover mandel bread
Matt Nosanchuk is the Director for Outreach on the National Security Council.