They are the top chefs from the kitchens of the world’s leaders, masters of the art of sweetening international relations with a sumptuous meal, who gather in Paris this week to swap recipes and tips on dinner-party diplomacy.
“Presidents come and go, but chefs stay,” said Gilles Bragard, the French businessman who started the club of chefs to the world’s presidents and monarchs in 1977. “I often say that if politics divides, then the table brings people together,” he said.
In a wink at the cooks’ importance, the club’s name — Le Club des Chefs des Chefs — plays on the fact the French word for chef and leader is the same. It could translate as ‘The Club of Chefs of the Chiefs’ or ‘The Club of Chiefs of the Chiefs’.
Attending the gathering from the White House kitchen is Cristeta Comerford, chef to Presidents Bill Clinton, George W Bush and now Barack Obama. From Paris comes veteran Bernard Vaussion, chef to French leaders for nearly 40 years.
The chefs have the utmost trust of their employers. Only the Kremlin still has an official taster to sample the Russian president’s food and make sure it hasn’t been tampered with. Other world leaders put their stomachs entirely in the hands of their cooks.