Local Chef Kicks Off Inaugural Balls Frenzy

Guests visiting the Nation's Capital will be able to dine in a style befitting the newly elected President of the United States even if not invited to the official Inauguration luncheon hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol (JCCIC). Chef Arnel Esposo of Palette restaurant in the Loews Madison Hotel will offer his version of official Inauguration luncheon fare with a three-course prix-fixe menu available at both lunch and dinner from January 10 – 25, 2009.

The foods offered at the luncheons are a reflection of the times and individual tastes. Diners will be presented with a choice of an appetizer, entree and dessert served at previous official Inauguration luncheons from every President since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957 to George W. Bush in 2005, excluding Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. President Carter asked that the Inaugural luncheon be canceled and the JCCIC obliged and when President Ford was appointed President on October 12, 1973 he did not think the times called for a celebratory luncheon.

“The foods offered at the luncheons are a reflection of the times and individual tastes,” said Chef Arnel Esposo of Washington, D.C.'s Palette restaurant. “It is interesting to see how the food went from simple to those with more complex flavorings and preparations. I think our guests in Palette will enjoy dining like the President.”

For reservations in Palette during Inauguration guests should call (202) 587-2700. The price is exclusive of tax, gratuity and beverages.

Chef Esposo's special menu of past Inaugural luncheons served in Statuary Hall includes his interpretation of four appetizers, four entrees and four desserts. On the menu each dish will be attributed to a President and the year he was inaugurated.

For appetizers, guests will choose from: cream of tomato soup with crushed popcorn, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961; shrimp cocktail, Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957 and Richard Milhous Nixon, 1973; scalloped crab and lobster, President George Walker Bush, 2005; or California garden salad, President Ronald W. Reagan, 1981.

Entrées range from chicken to beef to fish. Included on the menu will be Maine lobster Newburg, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957; Texas heart of filet mignon with bercy sauce, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1965 and Richard Milhous Nixon, 1969; rosemary chicken with pecan rice, ginger carrots and broccoli, President William Jefferson Clinton, 1993; and grilled salmon with sorrel sauce, President William Jefferson Clinton, 1997.

Guests will want to leave room for dessert because the offerings are as varied as the President's views: cold praline soufflé with raspberry sauce, President Ronald W. Reagan, 1985; apple-cranberry brown Betty, President William Jefferson Clinton, 1993; brandied pear crisp and vanilla ice cream, President George Herbert Walker Bush, 1989; or toffee pudding with caramel sauce, President George Walker Bush, 2001.

After the newly elected President has taken the oath of office on January 20, 2009, he will be escorted to Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol for the traditional Inauguration luncheon hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

The luncheon features cuisine reflecting the home states of the new President and Vice President, as well as the theme of the Inauguration, and program that includes speeches, gifts presentations and toasts to the new administration. While the lunch tradition dates to 1897, when the Senate Committee on Arrangements gave a luncheon for President McKinley, it did not take its current form until 1953 for President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Palette, under the command of Chef and Sgt. Arnel Esposo (of the Maryland National Guard 58th Combat Brigade) combines comfortable American cuisine and contemporary artwork to create a restaurant-as-gallery setting,. Sleekly modern, Palette draws upon the country's regional traditions, presenting a singular culinary vision. The unique marriage of cuisine and artwork will please the most refined taste. Palette serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.