The Eater-in-Chief

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Hail, The Chosen One! The chefs of America rejoice because they want us to eat out and eat Politically Correct Food when we do. (I remember that the Democratic National Convention this past summer required only PC food at its gatherings, including foods with “correct” colors and the like. Today, Denver! Tomorrow, the World!)

So, hear the Great Wisdom of the chefs (who want you to pay dearly for their choices for you) as they speak:

While former President George W. Bush rarely visited restaurants and didn’t often talk about what he ate, Obama dines out frequently and enjoys exploring different foods.

“He’s the kind of diner who wants to taste all sorts of things,” Bayless says. “What I’m hoping is that he’s going to recognize that we need to do what we can in our country to encourage real food for everyone.”

Phrases like “real food” and “farm-to-table” may sound like elitist jargon tossed around at upscale restaurants. But the country’s top chefs, several of whom traveled to Washington for Obama’s inauguration this week, hope that Obama’s flair for good food will encourage people to expand their horizons when it comes to what they eat.

These chefs tout locally grown, environmentally friendly and β€” most importantly β€” nutritious food. They urge diners, even those who may never be able to afford to eat at their restaurants, to grow their own vegetables, shop at farmer’s markets and pay attention to where their food comes from.

Dan Barber, chef at New York’s popular Blue Hill restaurant and a frequent critic of the country’s food policy, says a few small gestures from the president and first lady Michelle Obama could accomplish what many of the chefs have been working toward for years.

“I recognize that I’m an elitist guy,” says Barber, who cooked a $500-a-plate meal for incoming Obama aides and other guests at a small charity fundraiser the night before the inauguration. “Increasingly raise awareness, but don’t do it through chefs like me. … My advice would be more of a symbolic nature, and to not underestimate what can be done through the White House.”

Barber said good food needs more publicity, and he hopes Obama and his wife will advertise what they are eating and what they are feeding their children, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha.

Many high-end chefs like Barber believe that most food in the United States is over-processed, over-subsidized and grown with no regard to the environment, making it harder for small farms to make a profit selling more natural, nutritious food.

Barber cooks with food grown at his farm, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. At the pre-inauguration fundraiser, organized along with several other dinners by food guru Alice Waters, passed hors d’oeuvres included carrots, lettuce and cauliflower β€” untarnished and raw, delicious in their natural form. Sweet beets had been recently chiseled from Stone Barns’ frozen ground, and hog snouts left over from slaughter were used as a garnish on a plate of Maine sea scallops.

Ah, yes. We, the Great Unwashed must eat the food of the rich — or perhaps we should not eat at all! How dare we patronize those places that are Politically Incorrect! How dare we place foods in our mouths that the Great Chefs have declared unfit!

The Audacity of Hope! Obama, our Maximum Leader, will tell us what we should be eating!

11:53 am on January 24, 2009