The White House Dessert Request Roland Mesnier Called 'Disgusting'

No doubt about it, the Executive Residence — more commonly known as the White House — is a swanky place. The 44 of the 45 people that have served as the President of the United States have called the place home for the duration of their terms, notes The White House Historical Association, since its completion in 1800.

In that time, myriad heads of state, monarchs, and visiting dignitaries — foreign and domestic — have been entertained within the confines of the White House complex. As Insider points out, entertaining on such a scale requires a great deal of cooking along with chefs, facilities, and equipment that is on par with the world's top restaurants.

During the countless state dinners, receptions, luncheons, and other fetes presidents put on to foster goodwill and diplomacy says Foreign Policy, menus have been part of the underlying message of the event. Some feature foods of the homeland of an honored guest, while others reflect the bounty of America or the spirit of a holiday being celebrated.

That has meant a great spectrum of foodstuffs have appeared on White House tables, and, owing to the great variation in personal tastes, some dishes — or even whole meals — might seem more revolting than relishing. But one, in particular, made even the head White House pastry chef turn up his nose.

A savory sorbet

Chef Roland Mesnier was brought onboard the White House culinary team in 1979 by First Lady Rosalynn Carter. As illustrated on his website, he brought with him extensive experience in his native France, London, Bermuda, and the U.S. While working for five different presidents — Jimmy Carter through George W. Bush — Mesnier created such whimsical desserts as a gingerbread White House, a faux floral arrangement of fresh fruit and melon sorbet, and a chocolate coffee mill filled with coffee ice cream.

The dessert that so repulsed the chef was not his creation, but rather a request from Senator Kennedy, Mesnier mentions in an interview with Erin Bakes. When preparing for a St. Patrick's Day event, Kennedy asked that green bean sorbet be added to the menu. Mesnier acquiesced to the request, but said that both the making of the sorbet and his read of the faces of the diners confirmed his suspicion that it wasn't a hit.

But, history tells us that the green bean sorbet was an aberration, a blemish on an otherwise splendid tradition of desserts served in the White House. Bake Magazine compiled a list of the favorite sweet treats of our Commanders-in-Chief, and it is quite the varied array. Ice creams of various flavors along with cookies and pies are clear favorites, but there are more than a few delicious-sounding but less common entrants, such as Martin Van Buren's predilection for Charlotte Russe and Barack Obama's favorite — crustless coconut pie.