LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA) -- Talk about pressure: Cooking for the first family and congressional leaders.

After an intense vetting process and several tastings the Inaugural Committee chose Design Cuisine in Arlington to prepare the Inaugural Luncheon.

It's the prestigious and elegant meal, served right after the President is sworn in.

Chef Shannon Shaffer of Design Cuisine prepared the inaugural lunch four years ago and was asked back again for his second inaugural lunch.

When asked what he thinks about the high pressure 3-course meal, Chef Shaffer says, "make sure you don't mess it up."

He says it in jest, but knows the meal has to be perfect for the 230 guests including the first family, congressional leaders and the Supreme Court Justices. He says he falls back on his 25 years of cooking for different people in different places.

But the Capitol adds another layer of complication. Everything from the food, equipment and staff will go through security checks and pre-screening.

Security was so tight four years ago, staff had to sleep in the Capitol overnight to be in place to cook, because all the bridges were shut down on Inauguration Day.

70 of Chef Shannon's sous chefs, cooks and others will pull off this century old tradition.

After months of fine tuning the menu, the three course meal consists of lobster and clam chowder, hickory grilled bison and Hudson Valley apple pie, bringing ingredients from American farms.

And Chef Shaffer is attuned to making the dishes healthy, a nod to the First Lady's Let's Move campaign.

"Just a little heavy cream but it's mainly clam broth."

All this prep work involves bringing their mobile kitchen, provided by DC Rental, to the Capitol. Inside, Statuary Hall will be transformed to an elegant affair.

"it's a four day process but we've been working on this for 5 months. It's the most important lunch I've ever done."
The inaugural committee has already determined how to fold the napkins which will be a modern fold but they won't divulge anything else. A team at Design Cuisine are now deciding what shade the napkin and tablecloth should be and what texture.

Kathy Valentine, Design Cuisine CEO said, "Every detail is important. It can't be too soft or too stiff. The shade? That's a secret."

There's an element of surprise but it really comes down to the food.

This will be Design Cuisine's sixth inaugural lunch. The second for Chef Shaffer.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wusa9.com/1bMZ5oK