Chefs to heads of state remain slow to gossip, quick to sample


A WHITE HOUSE handshake with President Clinton, dinner at the Mayflower Hotel, a tour of San Francisco and several California wineries, and brunch at Baltimore's Harbor Court Hotel filled a five-day tour by members of the Club of Chefs to the Heads of State. Membership in this exclusive group, formed in 1977, is open to chefs who work for, or have worked for, kings, queens, sultans and presidents.

The group's annual meetings are quite fancy compared to the first get-together dinners. Now they meet every summer in a different country, and this year, the host was White House chef Walter Scheib. The chefs were guests of the Chinese government in 1992, France in 1993; Thailand in 1994; Canada in 1995; and next year's meeting will be held on the Queen Elizabeth II.

I was among a few Baltimoreans like chef Rudy Speckamp, owner of Rudys' 2900, invited to hobnob with the 40 culinary VIPs at the Harbor Court Hotel brunch. That's where the culinary talents of the hotel's executive chef Holly Forbes were showcased. Imagine selecting a menu and cooking for the queen of England's chef, Lionel Mann; or the queen of Denmark's chef, Takashi Kondo; or the president of India's chef, Sudhir Kumar Sibal; or the king of Jordan's chef, Ted Hughes; or the sultan of Brunei's chef, August Wehrle.

Forbes and her staff at the hotel did such a great job that they received a much-deserved standing ovation. Needless to say, the hotel's general manager Werner Kunz was pleased with the show.

It was interesting to watch different chefs partake of Maryland delicacies, including sauteed soft crabs, wild rockfish, smoked crab cakes on fried green tomatoes with scallion lemon aioli, a breakfast torte, black-eyed pea relish, Silver Queen corn salad and fresh tomato concasses, sauerkraut salad, Maryland cioppino with crab, clams and baby corn, and grilled and roasted smoked loin of lamb. All were accompanied by tasty wines and desserts like syllabub with blueberries, white chocolate cherry tarts and lime butter tartlet with blackberry cream.

Among those I spotted going back for seconds were chef Athanasios Skouras, who cooks for the president of Greece; the president of France's chef, Joel Normand; and Sirkka-Liisa Ruottinen, chef to Finland's president, who was most interested in the seafood dishes. She said she uses a lot of salmon and smelt for her president's meals.

It was a pleasure to sit with chef Scheib and his wife, Jean, who also is a chef and who plans to go back to work in Georgetown in the fall. Hillary Clinton selected Scheib to be the White House chef out of more than 4,000 applicants. He came to the White House after working at another lovely place, the prestigious Greenbriar Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. Although the Scheibs were more chatty than most of the other visitors, I left the brunch with the belief that the only time these chefs voluntarily open their mouths is when they eat.

Hispanic heritage

Congratulations to Orioles player Bobby Bonilla, who's a star in the world of baseball as well as in the Hispanic community. On Sept. 23, he'll be among a group of Hispanic Americans honored at the 10th Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation Anniversary Dinner at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Actress Rita Moreno is vice-chair of the foundation, and she'll be there with Bonilla and other award winners like novelist Isabel Allende; American clothes designer Oscar de la Renta; U.S. Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena; "NYPD Blue" star Jimmy Smits; and author and international civil rights leader for Hispanic women Carmen Delgado Votaw.

Golf for women

Women's programs at Essex Community College got a shot in the arm last Monday, when nearly 70 women teed off at the Maryland Golf & Country Club in Bel Air. This annual day on the links benefits vital women's services at the school, such as the Turning Point Program for displaced homemakers and single parents. The tourney was chaired this year by Maureen O'Brien.

Essex Foundation board member Claudenia Burgemeister invited me to join her nine-hole foursome, along with Lois Baldwin and Georgette Frederick, and those who know my golf game will be amazed that I said yes. Fortunately, my teammates got off some pretty good shots, and we won a McCormick's spice set for coming in fifth overall.

First place among the nine-holers went to Barb Miller's team; second to Mary Emerick's team; and third to Elaine Hartnett's team. First place for the 18-hole foursomes went to Carol Eustis' lTC team; second to Darlene Wakefield's team; and third to the Traffic Group team. As I was leaving, Woody Powell, the head of the foundation board, introduced me to Penny Bloom, the acting president of the school until Leila Gonzalez Sullivan comes on board Sept. 1.

Fishing feat

Have you heard that Carlos Bentos of Annapolis pulled off an incredible feat at the annual White Marlin Open in Ocean City? Fishing alone on his boat, Caribena, he managed to catch and release five white marlins, tagging four. For this, he was named the top boat and top angler in the tourney, which had 236 boats entered. What's so amazing is that this honor is usually presented to an entire boat and crew, not an individual. In other words, Bentos displayed a skill most anglers do not possess, which included landing two doubleheaders.

Cool blues

Hot August Blues '96 was a cool way for hundreds of people to spend the day at the fourth annual benefit for the Contemporary and the Baltimore Blues Society.

Again this year, Marcia and Brad Selko donated the use of the land surrounding their Monkton home, Bradmar Manor, for the blues bash.

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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