His desserts will no longer be the delight of the White House. Frenchman Roland Mesnier, who was pastry chef under five US presidents, died at the age of 78 in the United States, his family said on Sunday.
He died Friday in the state of Virginia, according to his son George and his older sister Geneviève Guyez Mesnier. Born in Bonnay, a small village near Besançon, and from a modest family of nine children, he was hired by the wife of President Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn, in 1979.
Rosalynn Carter’s Trick Question
“I have such fond memories of Chef Mesnier. He liked to make people smile with his beautiful creations, like his famous gingerbread houses at Christmas. We will miss him ! tweeted another former first lady, Hillary Clinton, posting a photo of herself with the chef. “We are sorry to learn of the passing of Roland Mesnier, who served as White House chef for 26 years and for five U.S. presidents, including 25 years as Executive White House Pastry Chef. His passion, his commitment and his love for his work will remain etched in our memories,” said the Ronald Reagan Foundation.
Roland Mesnier, who had become a naturalized American, left the White House in 2004. The leader, who published several books and spoke widely after his retirement about his experience in Washington, said in an interview broadcast in 2013 that Rosalynn Carter had asked him what he planned to cook in the kitchens of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if he was hired. Lots of low-calorie desserts, he replied, because “Mrs. Carter was a very pretty woman, very thin, so I thought that was a trick question.” “My answer was the right one, because she told her secretary ‘this is the one I want, and I want it as soon as possible’”.
An amazing recipe
Roland Mesnier was full of anecdotes about presidents and their families: George W. Bush was a fan of pecan ice cream and “the most impatient man I have ever seen”; Nancy Reagan was an “absolute perfectionist”; Bill Clinton was allergic “to sugar, flour and chocolate” but very greedy, so the pastry chef had to strive to create new recipes without the offending ingredients.
And if he said he greatly appreciated the Carters, “great people”, one of their favorite recipes, which had to be prepared for large buffets, horrified him. For this dish, “you had to use the stickiest cheeses you could find, mix them, add anchovies and all sorts of things, then you put them in rings (…) and in the middle you put strawberry jam “, he said. “The funny thing is, Mrs. Carter was always checking to see if the thing was on the table. It was, but no one ever touched it,” he added. So “we put it back in the freezer and took it out for each buffet. I believe the same (dish) lasted four years.”