Roland Mesnier, White House pastry chef for 25 years, has died
Eva Deschamps / August 29, 2022
His desserts will no longer delight the White House. Frenchman Roland Mesnier, who served as pastry chef to five U.S. presidents, has died at the age of 78 in the United States, his family said Sunday.
He died Friday in the state of Virginia, according to his son George and his older sister Geneviève Guyez Mesnier. Born in Bonnay, a small village near Besançon, and from a modest family of nine children, he was hired by the wife of President Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn, in 1979.
I have such fond memories of Chef Mesnier. He loved making people smile with his beautiful creations, like his famous gingerbread houses at Christmas. He will be missed! another former first lady, Hillary Clinton, tweeted, posting a photo of herself with the chef. We are sorry to hear of the passing of Roland Mesnier, who served as White House chef for 26 years and for five U.S. presidents, including 25 years as White House executive pastry chef. His passion, commitment and love for his work will be remembered, said the Ronald Reagan Foundation.
Roland Mesnier, a naturalized American, left the White House in 2004. The chef, who has published several books and spoken extensively after his retirement about his experience in Washington, D.C., recounted in a 2013 interview that Rosalynn Carter had asked him what he planned to cook in the kitchens of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if he were hired. Lots of low-calorie desserts, he had replied, because Ms. Carter was a very pretty woman, very thin, so I figured it was a trick question. My answer was the right one, because she told her secretary 'this is the one I want, and I want it as soon as possible.
Roland Mesnier was not stingy with anecdotes about presidents and their families: George W. Bush was a fan of pecan ice cream and the most impatient man I've ever seen; Nancy Reagan was an absolute perfectionist; Bill Clinton was allergic to sugar, flour and chocolate but very greedy, so the pastry chef had to work hard to create new recipes without the offending ingredients.
And while he said he was very fond of the Carters, great people, one of their favorite recipes, which had to be prepared for large buffets, horrified him. For this dish, you had to use the stickiest cheeses you could find, mix them together, add anchovies and all sorts of things, and then you put them together in rings ... and in the middle you put strawberry jam, he recounted. The funny thing is that Mrs. Carter would always check to see if the thing was on the table. It was, but no one would ever touch it, he added. So we'd put it back in the freezer and take it out for every buffet. I think the same (dish) lasted four years.