Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife will be treated to a spring-themed state dinner at the White House Thursday evening, before being watching performances by the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and Grammy-nominated singer Sara Bareilles.
Drawing inspiration from both Canada and the U.S., White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford will prepare a dinner that starts off with Alaskan halibut ‘casseroles” — made with herbed butter “sourced from Mrs. Obama’s White House Kitchen Garden” — followed by a roasted apricot galette with Appalachian cheese for the second course.
The main course will be lamb chops with Yukon potato dauphinoise and fricasee of spring vegetables as the main course — all drizzled with Yukon Jack Canadian whisky.
And, as expected, there will be something maple to wrap up the four-course meal. Dessert, prepared by Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison, will be a maple pecan cake with cocoa nib wafers and butterscotch swirl ice cream.
Have a look at the full menu. (Story continues below)
The guest list for the event is expected to be made public ahead of Thursday’s dinner, but a number of Canadian cabinet ministers will be accompanying the prime minister on the trip.
The event in honour of Trudeau’s official visit to Washington, D.C. will be the 11th state dinner President Obama has hosted in his eight years in office — and one of his last.
How much do state dinners cost?
State dinners are never short on glamour, but they do cost a pretty penny.
The president will be picking up the tab on this one — or at least the U.S. taxpayers will.
Obama hosting a dinner for the prime minister, or any other world leader, is a pretty big deal — and, it’s not something that happens all too often.
Since taking office in 2009, Obama has only hosted nine state dinners at the White House and this is the first time a Canadian prime minister has been the guest of honour since former President Bill Clinton hosted former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien in 1997. There were no state dinners held at the White House in honour of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his decade in power.
In past years, Obama had a bit of a reputation for going all out when hosting his international counterparts.
CBS News, in 2014, published the costs of the the five state dinners Obama had hosted in his first term as president — two of which came at a cost of more than half a million dollars.
Here’s how much they cost:
- State dinner for India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Nov. 24, 2009 – $572,187.36
- State dinner for Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon on May 19, 2010 – 563,479.92
- State dinner for China’s President Hu Jintao on Jan 19, 2010 – $412,329.73
- State dinner for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on June 7, 2011 – $215,883.36
- State dinner for South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak on Oct. 13, 2011 – 203,053.34
Over time, as you can see, the White House appeared to tighten its belt.
This may be why the White House was even criticized for serving $60 wine when French President Francois Hollande attended a state dinner in 2014. It served $115 wine to Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Not your grandmother’s fine china
The costs of later state dinners have not been made available, nor has the expected cost of the Trudeau’s coming to dinner.
But they will be dining off some pretty pricey plates — the official Obama China Service.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who dined with the Obama’s last April, was the first visiting world leader to dine off the official Obama state china — a 3,520-piece set worth $367,258. The costs of the 320 11-piece settings, however, didn’t come from the public’s coffers. It was the White House Historical Association’s White House Endowment Trust that covered the cost — as it has for past collections.
According to the White House Historical Association, there have been 19 collections of presidential china produced crafted in the past 199 years.
Sing for your dinner?
The guest list at a state dinner runs the gamut from cabinet members to celebrities. And sometimes, some of those more famous guests are actually there to perform.
The inclusion of Brave singer Bareilles for the evening’s entertainment keeps inline with the White House bringing in popular acts like Beyonce, Mumord and Sons, John Legend and Ne-Yo to belt out tunes for world leaders and dignitaries.
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