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A White House chef reveals US presidents’ favorite comfort foods, from barbecue to red velvet cake

Summary List PlacementServing as president of the United States is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. It's no wonder that those who occupy the Oval Office often turn to comfort food. "I cannot remember one [president] that didn't particularly just like comfort food," Chef Andre Rush, who worked as a White House chef during four administrations, told Insider. "If you're in the White House, you could have whatever you want. But you're always going to eat something that's going to be kind of comforting to you, that you can enjoy." Rush, who prepared meals for Presidents Clinton, Bush,...

chef andre rush with barack obama

Summary List Placement

Serving as president of the United States is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. It’s no wonder that those who occupy the Oval Office often turn to comfort food.

“I cannot remember one [president] that didn’t particularly just like comfort food,” Chef Andre Rush, who worked as a White House chef during four administrations, told Insider. “If you’re in the White House, you could have whatever you want. But you’re always going to eat something that’s going to be kind of comforting to you, that you can enjoy.”

Rush, who prepared meals for Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump, is a combat veteran and former Army chef. He now uses his platform to advocate for military service members and suicide prevention. His memoir, “Call Me Chef, Dammit! A Journey From the Rural South to White House,” will be published by HarperCollins this fall. 

President Donald Trump was known for his love of fast food

trump fast food

Rush said President Donald Trump was an “American comfort-food guy” who preferred fast-food burgers and taco salads over versions prepared by White House chefs. Rush didn’t take it personally.

“A lot of people get it twisted. They think that if you have a White House chef, they can reinvent that whole meal, for instance, with some burger from a fast-food joint, we can reinvent that and make it into a healthy version of it,” Rush said. “I know President Trump got a lot of slack about what he ate … you could have baked fries, you could have this, you could have that. But for him, his comfort [food] was not every day.”

The Obama family celebrated birthdays with red velvet cake

barack obama eating cake

Barack Obama was a fan of pies — especially an apple pie prepared by former White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses — but the Obama family marked special occasions with the decadent cake.

“Michelle Obama liked her red velvet cake, which was a staple with them for birthdays,” Rush said.

President George W. Bush stayed true to his Texas roots with barbecue

george w bush eating barbeque

Bush served Eddie Deen BBQ sauce at both of his inaugurations, and he would give bottles out as gifts during his time in office.

“He had this famous barbecue sauce that he loved that goes back to his ways of living in Texas,” Rush said.

Rush says being a White House chef is more than just about cooking — it’s about helping presidents lead with clear heads

The goal as White House chef, Rush told Insider, is to prevent presidents from ever becoming “hangry.”

“How many times have you ever been, what’s the word, hangry?” Rush said. “Where you don’t have something to eat, or ate something that you didn’t like, and you were forced to eat it and your taste buds weren’t ready for it, and you’re still mad even though you’re filled up? So, that is one part of the actual job. People don’t understand how important it is to not only to feed them nutritionally, but mentally for that stability to get them to do what they need to do.”

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