The Irish Stew Named After President Obama

If anybody could be named as the authority on Irish cuisine, fans would probably argue that it's Cathal Armstrong. Chef Armstrong fondly recounts memories of learning to love food while working alongside his father in the family's Dublin garden as a child. Now, not only is the four-star chef a seven-time restaurateur, and the head chef and co-owner of Restaurant Eve, he's also a leader of the sustainable food movement, per the National Gallery of Art. For his contributions to environmentally-friendly fine dining, Armstrong was given the National Restaurant Association Neighborhood Community Award and Washingtonian magazine's Green Giant Award. He was also named the James Beard Foundation's "Best Mid-Atlantic Chef" of 2012.

Shortly thereafter, in 2014, Armstrong published his debut cookbook, "My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve," which features 130 Irish-inspired recipes and a narrative account of the chef's own life moving from Dublin to Washington, D.C. The cookbook is as much a collection of recipes as it is a love song to Ireland and a celebration of heritage. 

It's interesting, then, that Armstrong's Irish stew recipe is named after President Obama.

President Obama Stew is Cathal Armstrong's humble homage

President Obama is no stranger to the culinary world. During his Presidency, Obama was known to frequent restaurants around the country (in an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, chef Aarón Sánchez reflected on his time cooking for Obama. Fittingly, Armstrong's "President Obama Stew" has an origin story of presidential-sized interest.

One day, when Armstrong was off from work, the chef allegedly received a phone call while cooking his mother's chicken stew recipe at home, via Serious Eats. The message? President Obama was en route to Restaurant Eve. In a flash, Armstrong rushed to the restaurant and enjoyed a meal with the President, abandoning the stew to revisit later. The rest is history. Although, for a dish named after President Obama himself, Armstrong's stew is decidedly simple. It's an understated lineup of chicken, yellow onion, carrots, celery, plum tomatoes, chicken stock, rosemary, basil, and bay leaves, that are sautéed in a skillet and then transferred to a Dutch oven to simmer — a super straightforward recipe for such a presidential namesake.

Armstrong's connection to the Obama administration doesn't end there. The chef was asked to create a model of then-First Lady Michelle Obama's personal White House garden at the Bloom Festival in Ireland. In 2011, the White House under the Obama administration named Armstrong a "Champion of Change." That same year, says the National Gallery of Art, the Obamas celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary at Restaurant Eve.