WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) --- From our neighbors in Canada, to the island nation of Sri Lanka, chefs to world leaders shared a few details of what it's like to cook for the head of state in their countries.
They're responsible for entertaining the palates of presidents and their guest diplomats and dignitaries. The 21-member chefs gathered at the National Press Club on a part of a week-long tour of the United States.
The food on the table quickly becomes a symbol of diplomacy.
SRI LANKA's Rohan FERNANDOPULLE said he wins by combining ingredients from both countries represented at the head of state dinner. For example, ingredients native to Japan and Sri Lanka will appear in one dish.
ISRAEL's Shalom KADOSH said he once cooked a fish from the river found on the border between Jordan and Israel to communicate the hope of a harmonious relationship between nations.
Chefs also spilled the beans on some of the rewards and stresses of the job.
GABON's Ferrier RICHARDSON said he enjoys the moments where he may interact and see the first family in a normal, relaxed manner after a meal.
CHINA's MEN Jian Zhong and LIU Qiang said this was the first time in the United States. Liu said Peking Duck is a well-known dish among international leaders.
FRANCE's Bernard VAUSSION's kitchen once had to give up on faux gras, because the ingredients were not working. So roast beef was served instead.
CANADA's Timothy WASYLKO said he once took two hours driving in a blizzard to prepare a meal in 45 minutes. He thought he had at least two hours. But he pulled through.
The chefs from 20 nations belong to an elite non-profit organization dedicated to the culinary profession, Club des Chefs des Chefs (CCC).
"The best cuisine of the world is your mother's cuisine," said Gilles Bragard, the founder of the elite Club des Chefs des Chefs. Bragard is described as a "the couturier to chefs and international hospitality."
To belong to this club, one must be a personal chef to a head-of-state. Bragard said he started CCC in 1977 to build friendship and honor the profession for these chefs who entertain the palates of world leaders. CCC describes itself as the "most exclusive gastronomic society."
Bragard described the mission of the head chef to world leaders:
a. Show and celebrate the cuisine of one's mother country.
b. Be mindful and advocate for healthy, nutritious ingredients.
c. Contribute to diplomacy by creating a memorable and enjoyable meal for world leaders. "If you give good food, [the diplomat] will provide a good treatise," Bragard described the ideal scenario.
Cristeta Comerford, the head chef to President Obama, served as host of the group. Comerford said the chefs have been on a week-long tour of American cuisine. The chefs traveled to New York and sampled fresh, local vegetables. The Amish in Lancaster County, Pa., showed the chefs seasonal, organic and sustainable ingredients.
The itinerary also included meeting U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in New York City and President Obama in Washington. They leave the National Press Club to meet with the State Department Chef Corps.
The chefs enjoyed a Virginia Bison Steak in the local area. Comerford said there will be a stop in the District to enjoy the American burger.
Twenty-one chefs joined together to represent the following countries.
CHINA (2 chefs)
ITALY (2 chefs)
Written by: Elizabeth Jia
WUSA9 & WUSA9.com