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Monday, February 21, 2011

2/22 - 'CULINARY' DIPLOMACY & SYMPHONIC ARTISTRY: Former White House Executive Chef Walter Scheib & Dr. Richard Aldag, Executive Director for the Napa Valley Symphony & Lincoln Theater

Chef Walter Scheib

Slow Living Radio got an eagle eye view of culinary diplomacy from our country's "first kitchen" with former White House Executive Chef Walter Scheib. Then we compared musical notes with Dr. Richard Aldag, Executive Director for the Napa Valley Symphony and Lincoln Theater in Yountville-Napa Valley. 

Walter Scheib has quite a story to tell. In fact, he has two stories to tell. The first involves the rise of an American chef to the most storied position in the land. The second offers an intimate, human view of two First Families, the corridors of political power, international personalities, and the most famous building in the United States, from a unique vantage point: The kitchen.

In April 1994, after a lengthy application and screening process, Walter Scheib became the chef to America’s chief executive and the First Family. First Lady Hillary Clinton, impressed by the comprehensive spa menu Scheib had developed for the Greenbrier resort, as well as his highlighting of American cuisine, personally hired Scheib. For 11 years, he prepared everything from simple family meals to elaborate and formal State Dinners. His culinary creations dazzled and delighted White House guests including Nelson Mandela, Emperor Aikihito, Jacques Chirac, Boris Yeltsin, Vaclav Havel, Lady Diana Spencer, Tony Blair, Vicente Fox, and others, not to mention the thousands of congressional members, journalists, and other House visitors who got to know his food.

A highlight of Scheib’s White House achievement was his creation of a distinctly American repertoire for the nation’s First House. He continues to speak with eloquence and pride about America’s bounty today, praising the artisan cheese makers, green grocers, mushroom foragers, master bread makers, fishermen, ranchers, and farmers who have helped our national market basket evolve, and make quality cooking more accessible than ever. “America is rich in amazing produce, meats, and fish,” Scheib says. “Using just a few excellent ingredients, anyone can make a perfect meal with very little formal training.”

THE AMERICAN CHEF™ is the name Scheib has taken for his new corporation. Since he returned to private life, Scheib has founded The American Chef™, the company through which he shares his knowledge of the development of American cuisine at the White House, as well as White House remembrances, with audiences across the country. His special events often aim to bring together business leaders, using group cooking as a method of team bonding. They also offer home entertainers and party planners unique approaches to special events. For cooking schools, cooking demonstrations and lectures, Scheib teaches classes ranging from State Dinner Secrets to throwing a White House Birthday Party.

The American Chef™ offers a multitude of special-event concepts such as White House style cocktail receptions, First Lady Luncheons, State Dinners, and Outdoor “South Lawn” barbecues and picnics. His educational and entertaining sessions and demonstrations are filled with fascinating White House insider's anecdotes, culinary insights, team building and bonding, as well as, exercises with a culinary twist. Sessions frequently feature hands-on cooking demonstrations with audience participation and interaction.

Food is Scheib’s lifelong passion. He discovered his mother’s pots and pans early in life and soon felt comfortable preparing meals for parents and friends. By the time he graduated from high school, he was eager to pursue a profession in the culinary arts. He attended the Culinary Institute of America, from which he graduated with high honors in 1979. Immediately thereafter, Scheib started as a Rounds Cook at a premier Washington, D.C. hotel, and within three years was promoted to Executive Chef. Before coming to the Greenbrier and then the White House, he served as Executive Chef at other major hotels and resorts such as the Boca Raton Resort and Club.

Scheib has developed a very popular speaking approach regaling guests with interesting, informative and often humorous anecdotes from his years in the White House. Scheib has made numerous appearances, both national and local. On the CBS Early Show, he demonstrated how to make a “presidential burger”…on the Fourth of July, no less. Additional television appearances include The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the CBS Early Show, Good Morning America, Weekend Today in New York, Nightline and Iron Chef on the Food Network Station. Newspaper and Magazine stories and interviews about his company and his food have been seen in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The U.S. News and World Report, in addition to other articles. Please visit the for the full text of these articles. . He is the co-author of the newly published White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen, which was released in January 2007.

Dr. Richard Aldag
Dr. Richard Aldag, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Napa Valley Symphony and Lincoln Theater Napa Valley. As a composer, Aldag has created works for a wide variety of media, including orchestra, chamber ensemble, opera, theatre, and choir. His works have been commissioned by San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Earplay, La MaMa Theatre, Trio Versailles, pianists Barry Salwen and James Dennihan, soprano Eileen Strempel, and the Access Chamber Ensemble, and have been premiered by ensembles that include the Queens Symphony and the Shanghai Symphony, among others.  

An active participant for many years in the New York music scene, Aldag served as Secretary-Treasurer of the International Alban Berg Society, and on the Board of the League of Composers/ISCM, the American New Music Consortium, and the OMNI ensemble. As an educator, he has served on the faculties of the San Jose State University School of Music and Dance, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College of CUNY, Fordham University, and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.

Located on the grounds of the historic California Veterans Home in Yountville, Lincoln Theater Napa Valley was built in 1957 to provide a central performance venue/meeting facility for the residents of the Veterans Home and the community at large. Aimed at providing a more suitable home for the Napa Valley Symphony and creating a larger world class venue for an array of performing arts disciplines, a group of concerned citizens gathered in the early part of the 21st century to create a plan to raise the funds necessary to renovate the facility. The result of their labor and generosity is a beautiful 1,200 seat venue, located in the center of the Napa Valley.

Since re-opening in 2005 following its $20 million renovation, Lincoln Theater Napa Valley has presented approximately 70 shows each year, ranging from symphonic music (LTNV is the performance home of the Napa Valley Symphony and Festival del Sole), jazz, world music, rock, classical and ethnic dance, comedy, musical theater, opera, and touring theater companies. In addition to its presenting program and performances by the Napa Valley Symphony, LTNV is the performance home of community groups that include the Napa Regional Dance Theatre and the Napa Valley Youth Symphony, as well as a centrally located venue suitable for large scale public meetings.  ###

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