Sunday 19 November 2017

The elite annual get-together where presidential chefs dish out the gossip

Henry Samuel in Paris

VLADIMIR Putin has a taster sample his every dish for poison, Barack Obama can't stand beetroot, and François Hollande has taken articho-kes off the Elysée menu.

These are some of the culinary secrets to emerge from the latest meeting of the select club of chefs who cook for the planet's most powerful leaders.

The "club des chefs des chefs", a group of 27 top chefs from the kitchens of the world's presidents, prime ministers and monarchs, is gathering in Paris this week to swap recipes and tit-bits on dinner-party diplomacy. The cooks insist haute cuisine plays a crucial role in warming ties and sealing international deals.

The club, whose title plays on the double meaning of the French word "chef" for cook and leader, was founded 35 years ago by Gilles Bragard. Yesterday, he revealed that President Putin of Russia maintains the tradition of having everything he eats tried by someone else for fear of poisoning.

"Tasters still exist but only in the Kremlin," Mr Bragard said ahead of a reception for the chefs hosted by new French President François Hollande yesterday.

London-based Anton Mosimann, who has cooked for several British Prime Ministers, recounted how Margaret Thatcher once asked for an unusually lavish meal.

During a conversation several years later, Mrs Thatcher congratulated him on the meal but added: "It was very expensive."

"That was Mrs Thatcher, she never missed a thing," Mr Mosimann said.

He also said Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, recently had a heavy sauce "modified" to make it lighter.

Mr Hollande is the sixth Gallic leader to be cooked for by Elysée Palace head chef Bernard Vaussion, who has catered to the gastronomic foibles of French heads of state for the past 40 years.

Mr Hollande's fitness mad predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy banished cheese from the Elysée, saying it was "too much" for him.

"But Francois Hollande has brought it back in," said Mr Bragard, delighted.

Beyond their culinary prowess, they have one clear advantage over the leaders they serve, said Mr Bragard: "Presidents come and go, but chefs remain." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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