Chef Edward Lee has revealed his menu for the White House state dinner with South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol, hosted by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.
Lee was personally selected by the first lady for his Korean-influenced Southern American cuisine. He worked alongside White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison to create the menu.
“We really wanted to do spring, something that’s fresh,” said Lee. “I’ve wanted to take some of my favorite American foods and just, just tinker with it a little bit, and this is also how I cook in my restaurants. Just add a little bit of Korean touches to it… It’s not traditional Korean food but just gives you a little hint of Korean flavors.”
Taking place on Wednesday evening, his first course will consist of a Maryland crab cake with cabbage, kohlrabi, fennel, cucumber slaw and a vinaigrette made from the red chili paste gochujang. It will be served with a yellow squash soup with cured strawberries and perilla leaf oil.
For the main course, guests will have braised beef short ribs with a side of grits made from butter bean instead of the usual dried corn, sorghum-glazed carrots and pine nuts.
Dessert will consist of a banana split and lemon bar ice cream with fresh berries, mint ginger snap cookie crumble and doenjang caramel. Doenjang is a fermented soybean paste.
The three-course meal will be served with wine, including a 2020 Ferdinand Albariño, a 2020 Januik Merlot and a 2019 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs.
Lee won a James Beard Award for his cookbook “Buttermilk Graffiti,” is the owner of 610 Magnolia restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, and is culinary director for Washington, D.C. restaurant Succotash.
“My mother was really excited,” Lee said of his mother’s reaction to his state dinner gig. “In fact, I think this is the first time she’s been really proud of me in 20 years, so that was a good thing. Korean mothers are very blunt, so she was like, ‘Don’t mess it up. You’ve got one shot.”
Joining Lee as special guests are Broadway stars Lea Salonga, Norm Lewis and Jessica Vosk, who will be the evening’s performers.
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