tv Interview with Washington Hilton Executive Chef CSPAN April 30, 2016 10:00am-10:19am EDT
the amount of money in the political process. that is all for today's "washington journal." thank you for joining us. we will be back tomorrow at 7:00. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ >> next, a look at some of the whiteations for tonight's house correspondents dinner with the executive chef of the washington hilton. then, senator ted cruz of texas and announcing his vice-president jewel choice. then, a speech by donald trump. later today, c-span will
bring you live coverage from the white house correspondents dinner, one of the biggest social events from washington each year. comedian, laurie gilmore. first, the preparations for the dinner. andre.nd with andr what is it like? >> organized chaos at its finest. it really is. it is an honor, first and foremost. it's also a lot of fun. it's opportunity for us to really prepare unusual foods for a large amount of people. >> when you say unusual, what do you mean?
>> we cannot go over this year's menu, but once we do a taste test with the white house correspondents dinner, the decision usually is made that evening. and then our work begins for the following year. >> and when do you do the taste test? at what point during the year? >> it's usually three months. roughly three months prior to the function itself. it depends on their schedule and our schedule. but we always work it out. >> chef andre, you have 23,000 square feet of kitchen. the largest in washington, d.c. the largest kitchen in d.c. does it get crowded on the night of the correspondents dinner? >> it gets very crowded. >> who's in here? >> well, we have a lot of celebrities that walk through the back of the house. but at the same time, we've got so many cooks and people working that evening. whether it be from a management team or all the team members.
you're looking at roughly 400 people that are here to assist on that evening. >> does that include surfers? -- servers? >> that includes servers. >> how many people are on the floor? >> you've got about 200 servers on the floor. >> and another 200 people back here? >> about that. it's actually organized chaos at its finest. >> where are you that evening? >> running around. we're just talking about how many steps i do. and the white house correspondents dinner is definitely the most. 24,000 steps that day. because i'm all over the place. whether it be in the pastry shop, butcher shop, preparation of cold food. on the hot side, working on hors d'oeuvres. making sure secret service is
ok. making sure that we're ready for them to inspect our kitchen. working backwards on a time line to feed that many people. how many time do we need for the stakes steaks to go in and actually cook so there's a lot that goes into it. >> there's a lot of high-profile people that come to the hilton on a regular basis. so you're probably used to that part. where do you source your food? is that a secret? is the secret service involved? >> as far as the food goes, we have primary purveyors that we source most of the food through. as soon as the tasting is over, i actually set down, and that's when the ordering of the food takes place. so it took place three months ago. because we wanted to make sure there's the correct aging on the
beef for the dinner that night. produce comes anywhere from california, meat usually from colorado or idaho, somewhere in that area. vegetables, again, florida, california, majority of it. there's a lot that gones into it though. >> what about the secret service? are they participating, keeping an eye on everything going on that night? >> they do. the thing with secret service, they kind of take our lead. at the same time, we take their lead. meaning that we know our employees, who should be here, who should not be here. so as far as, you know, working together, we really work well together. as far as overseeing the production of the food, they will walk around, inspect things, check on products, et cetera. when it comes time to actually
serve in the dinner, the president's dinner is usually picked out of the 2,700 we've produced that night. >> so he's eating the same food, it's a random -- >> correct. they randomly select from the starter desserts as well as the entree. >> how far are we from the ballroom? >> right now, about 40 yards from the ballroom. >> so are the servers taking the food from this area, from this kitchen, bringing it out into the ballroom? >> yeah. the kitchen actually backs up to the ballroom so it's only about ten yards away from the entrance to the ballroom which makes it convenient but also efficient. >> chef andre, your employees here, to work at the washington hilton, because of the high-profile events that go on here, do they have to be
especially checked, background checks? >> "washington journal" continues. >> i honestly couldn't answer that question. however, i do know that everybody that walks in to the kitchen, once we turn it over, to secret service, everybody is checked. once going through the secret service line. >> what about special orders? allergies, gluten-free? >> in my 11 years here, or my 12, this is actually my 12th dinner, we've had a lot of special requests. and it's challenging that night because you're trying to take care of so many people. and when somebody comes across and says, oh, i only eat things that are dark shade. ok.
right now, my brain is not working. what's a dark shade? what do you mean by that? i've got somebody else that needs their food pureed. i've got a special vegan diet. i would say there's probably 100 to 150 special requests that evening. and it presents a challenge but we do the best we can. >> what if you are one of the guests in the 1,000-plus rooms here at the washington hilton? you want a grilled cheese and a bowl of onion soup, are you going to get it that night? >> they will. we'll have our restaurant staff, restaurant kitchen, and room service appropriately staffed. we'll have six cooks up there and three pantry persons up there. room service will have a staff of 15 that evening. whether it's room service or a la carte or, you know, the people that like to watch. they'll be able to order bar food, whatever they want.
>> that's all done in a separate kitchen? >> yes. which is up one floor. it's right off the lobby. there's tdl restaurant. and if bar -- a bar. >> in the 12 years you've been doing this dinner, has anything gone wrong you can tell us about? >> we've had a lot go wrong. part of my job and my assistance job is kind of look to the future of what possibilities are there' for something to go wron. we think backwards, ok, what happens if we break 50 plates? what happens if we forget to light a hot box? so we kind of backtrack through the whole menu to make sure that we try and minimize those. we have had things like all of a sudden an oven got tired.
>> got tired? >> yeah. it's a nice way of putting it. where, you know, we put a french onion soup in the oven and the oven wasn't working. and that's when you have to use the resources in the kitchens to produce the food. what we did was we used the pastry ovens. so we're able to minimize any exposure. >> having attended the dinner, it is very crowded in the ballroom. what's the advice you give to the servers to get through? >> be patient, that's the biggest thing. from my standpoint, i don't see what goes on once they enter the
ballroom. because i'm so busy back here. we'll keep working until 11:00 t night, 12:00 at night. whether it be up in the restaurant or room service orders or there's after parties that go on. so from a kitchen standpoint, we're not closing down. i'll be here by 5:00 in the morning that morning. only because the anxiety's setting in. you know, i start going through my check list and, you know, double-checking everything that i've done up to that point to make sure i'm ready. it's a long day but at the same time, it's a lot of fun. so getting back to your original question with the servers, that day, we'll feed roughly 1,500 employees in our cafeteria also. so although a lot of people only see the white house correspondents dinner, you've
got all the people that have been here all day, housekeepers working hard to turn the rooms over, the bellman, the doorman, all the people working in the restaurant. because restaurant will do probably 3,000 people that day, so if you take all of that, there's a lot more that goes into it than just the white house correspondents dinner. it's actually planning for the cafeteria, how can we expedite service, how can we make sure we're able to feed all those employees that are working the white house correspondents dinner. >> 12 years. that means george w. bush and barack obama have been your two presidents. have you had the chance to meet either one of them? >> no, unfortunately. i hope one day i get a picture with one of the presidents. i think that would be nice. so no, i don't get to meet them. i had seen mrs. obama walk through the kitchen quickly a
couple times, but that is it. >> what's your biggest worry? >> failure. >> what kind of failure? >> just anything. that i didn't think of something that could go wrong and does go wrong. when you're feeding -- again, it is a high-profile group. every group here, i would say half of them are high profile. from a chef's standpoint, you're concerned from, you know, last week, two weeks ago, the groups coming in, maybe get a little less sleep with white house correspondents dinner. but it's a -- you know, i don't stress over it. you didn't know i was 90 so -- i just -- walk through the process, every process, every step that we do that day, i go over it 20, 30 times in my head prior to the function even happening.
and that way i'm ready. >> in the creative process, when you say, ok, for the taste test, let's try this, do you -- does this stretch your wings as a chef a little bit? do you get to play a little bit in coming up with the menu? it is funny you say that because i think the first five years i did it, it was kind of mechanical, so to speak. myselfef, i did not push to be more creative. i think this year, people would be very pleased, or more pleased, maybe then they help been in the have creativity that we've put forth. i'm learning. i'm also learning as a chef. i've been doing this for 40 years and every day i walk in
here, i learn something new. not a lot of people can say that, but as a chef, you take what you learn every day and you push yourself to learn something new every day. the next day, we're going to try it for 400. we're going to try something different for 1,200 people. and then you get up to the 2,700 people or the 2,000 people and europe trying to be unique and -- you are trying to be unique and different and that's when, you know, you know as a chef that you're doing your job right. >> this is president obama's last year in office, his last white house correspondents dinner. anything to mark that occasion? from your perspective? >> from my perspective, it really is an honor. i'm a military brat. for me, i was raised with respecting the position no matter who it was, democrat or republican. for me, it's really an honor to be here, to be part of the white house correspondents dinner, to
be known as the chef that, you know, helped produce this meal, it truly is. >> now, chef andre, your client is not the white house necessarily in this case, your client is the white house correspondents association. >> correct. and shame on me for referring to the president. but, you know, i guess i get a little little, you know, excited that he's here. but the white house correspondents dinner, you know, they're nice people that are on the committee. they want to do the best for the group, the organization. and my job's to make their job a little bit easier. so as a chef, even when i do the menus, what can i do, how can i do it, you know, to make their decisionmaking process a little bit easier. >> this dinner's being held on
april 30th, 2016. when will planning for 2017 begin? >> the day after. in all sincerity. what we do as a hotel is we get together, we discuss what went well, what didn't go well what we need to do, whether it be from, you know, we didn't have somebody station the in a certain area of the hotel to direct people. or did i not staff enough people in the restaurant kitchen for the business we had for room service or the bar or the restaurant? we go over everything the day after. the day after that, we actually start planning for '17's dinner. so it's nonstop. >> the executive chef here at the washington hilton. > it is known as one of
washington's premier evidence, bringing together government officials, members of the press, and hollywood stars. c-span has live coverage of the 2016 white house correspondents dinner today at 6:00 eastern. live coverage includes red carpet arrivals, background on the dinner, and award celebrations. headline.ore will president obama will give his last speech as commander in chief. join us today at the clock eastern live on c-span. >> during campaign 2016, c-span takes you on the road to the white house. we bring you live coverage