- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009

Obama Five-O

We hear that in a nod to President Obama’s home state, the traditional Congressional Picnic for members of Congress and their families will be the first-ever White House luau. Thursday’s South Lawn soiree will feature contemporary Hawaiian cuisine made from homegrown Hawaiian produce and delicacies. The menu for the luau is being created by award-winning chef Alan Wong, whose Honolulu restaurant has been ranked among the top 10 American restaurants by Gourmet magazine.

The guests and the Obamas, known for their prolific dance moves, will be entertained by 20 dancers and musicians from Hawaii’s largest entertainment company, Tihati Productions. The troupe will demonstrate the special culture and songs of the Aloha State.

“President Obama is bringing the Hawaii family spirit of ‘ohana’ to the White House and to all Americans through the first White House luau,” said John Monahan, president and chief executive of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, in a news release.

We’re not sure if the president and first lady will be sporting grass skirts, but we hear a few tiki torches will be lighting the way so people don’t trip over each other on the dance floor after one too many summer cocktails.

If Mr. Wong is looking for any help in the kitchen, he’s in luck: Celebrity chef Eric Ripert is in town and loves giving out advice for White House entertaining.

“I know the Obamas’ pastry chef, Bill Yosses, and he is not only a terrific chef, but a terrific guy,” Mr. Ripert told us Tuesday night at his Westend Bistro at the Ritz-Carlton in Northwest.

Mr. Ripert greeted throngs of guests on the bistro patio, including Kathleen Matthews, wife of “Hardball” host Chris Matthews, for an al fresco party celebrating the release of his new book, “On the Line,” and the second printing of his much-acclaimed “A Return to Cooking.”

“The first question I would ask is what season the dinner will be in, and then I would ask about any allergies the guests might have,” Mr. Ripert replied when asked by G2 how he would approach a White House dinner.

“I would do a stuffed chicken with black truffles. That is very French, and I would make it organic.”

A native of France, Mr. Ripert is loyal to his home country’s cuisine but doesn’t mind spicing things up with an American sense of humor.

“That’s immigration. They are coming for me,” he said with a laugh when a police car flew by the party, siren blaring.

Although the dashing Frenchman is known for fine dining, he says he can settle for more casual fare when cooking for less-than-presidential guests at home.

“I love margherita pizza and grilling in the summer. My favorite thing to grill is a T-bone steak. Actually, that is what I would serve at the White House.”

Swooning for Nick

There was no shortage of teens, or teenage drama for that matter, in the Dirksen Building on the Senate side of Capitol Hill Wednesday morning. Sweet 16 Nick Jonas of the hit pop-rock group the Jonas Brothers was in town testifying about diabetes. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005 and works with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

All the hot-and-bothered young groupies packed into the room hoping to catch a glimpse of the heartthrob may have been too much for one of the fans; she passed out cold.

Revenge of the nerds

Two Hollywood starlets, Kristen Bell and AnnaLynne McCord, were on the Ellipse Wednesday for a rally for Invisible Children, an organization that seeks to raise awareness and provide relief for child soldiers in Uganda.

G2 chatted with Miss Bell, famous for her roles on TV’s “Veronica Mars” and the film “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” about her reputation as a nerd.

“Nerd is the new cool. That’s a fact, yes. I love nerds in general because I like people being who they are,” she said. “I think the term is ‘geek chic,’ and I’m considered [to be] in that category. I think it’s an honor.”

We posed a Katie Couric-style question to probe the depths of her nerdiness and asked where Miss Bell gets her news. She passed the test.

“BBC, NPR, CNN, but I really like ‘Frontline,’ ” she explained.

Miss McCord, a star of TV’s “90210,” gave us a hint about her plans: “Futuristicly speaking, next hiatus, we have possible projects in the works where you get to see me kicking some butt, which would be a fun role for me. … I’m keeping my fingers crossed!”

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected] tontimes.com.

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