First Lady Pool Reports of April 24, 2023

April 24, 2023

Pool Reports by Emily Goodin, Daily Mail

Sent: Reports:
April 24, 2023

FLOTUS pool report #1 - Menu for state dinner and FLOTUS on a "busy week"

The background briefing for Wednesday's state dinner just concluded.

Below is what you've all been waiting for - the dinner menu.

And FLOTUS took two questions after her remarks.

Asked her favorite course: "The first. It's so American - the crab cake. But I love them all. Joe's favorite will be the last."

Asked if she's looking forward to anything else this week: "The White House Correspondents dinner," she said with a smile, adding: "It's a busy week."

More details from the preview along with quotes from the official remarks from Dr. Biden and others TK.

Background from the East Wing:

On ?Monday, April 24th?at?4:00 PM ET, First Lady Jill Biden will host a media preview in advance of Wednesday evening's?State?Dinner as part of the State Visit of His Excellency Yoon Suk Yeol, President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Mrs. Kim Keon Hee, First Lady of the Republic of Korea.?The media preview will include brief remarks from First Lady Jill Biden, White House Social Secretary Carlos Elizondo, and guest Chef Edward Lee, followed by presentations of the menu from Chef Lee, White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford, and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison. The First Lady will be joined by Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council John Kirby and Jung Lee, the Korean American founder and creative director of Fête, a design firm that assisted with the décor for the State Dinner. This is the second State?Visit of the Biden-Harris Administration.

First Lady Jill Biden worked with guest Chef Edward Lee, White House Executive Chef?Cris?Comerford, and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison to develop the menu for the State Dinner.

Chef Edward Lee is a renowned Korean American chef, author and restaurateur. His television credits include The Mind of a Chef and Top Chef, and he was the writer and host of the feature film, Fermented. He is a James Beard Award recipient and the author of two award-winning books, Smoke & Pickles and Buttermilk Graffiti. His restaurants are based in Louisville, Kentucky and Washington, D.C. He was selected by the First Lady because of his experience with the intersection of American cuisine with Korean influence.

The dinner will be served on the George W. Bush State Service china.

First Course
Maryland Crab Cake?
Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Fennel, and Cucumber Slaw?
Gochujang Vinaigrette?

Yellow Squash Soup
Cured Strawberries, Perilla Leaf Oil?

Ferdinand Albariño "Vista Luna Vineyard" 2020

Main Course?
Braised Beef Short Ribs?
Butter Bean Grits, Sorghum-Glazed Carrots, Pine Nuts

Januik Merlot "Red Mountain" 2020

Banana Split
Lemon Bar Ice Cream, Fresh Berries, Mint?Ginger Snap Cookie Crumble, Doenjang Caramel?

Schramsberg?Blanc de Blancs 2019

American and?Korean?Cultural Elements
First Lady Jill Biden and Social Secretary Carlos Elizondo worked with Fête, an event and design firm owned by Korean American Jung Lee, to help create?the design and guest experience for the dinner.?The décor features design elements that recognize our 70-year alliance with the Republic of Korea and celebrate our shared culture and the Korean American diaspora, including:

  • The East Room: This is the second State Dinner of the Biden-Harris Administration, but the first held inside the White House. The dinner will be held in the East Room, which features an American treasure: Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait of George Washington, which First Lady Dolley Madison helped save in 1814 when the White House was about to be set aflame during the War of 1812.
  • Taegeuk: Elements of the design and decor were inspired by the Taegeuk, the symbol in the center of the Republic of Korea flag, which represents balance, harmony, and peace.
  • Platinum:?In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Republic of Korea alliance, platinum-colored linens will be featured throughout the cocktail reception.
  • Dancheong: The dining room background design is inspired by Dancheong, the Korean traditional coloring in architecture, typically found on ancient temples throughout the Republic of Korea.
  • National Symbols and Traditions: On chair covers, designs evoking traditional sumukhwa (Korean ink brush painting) will feature peonies, representing prosperity and joy, and bamboo elements, representing longevity and strength. In Korean culture, peonies are found in traditional Korean artwork. It is also one of Mrs. Kim Keon Hee's favorite flowers. On the day of the State Dinner and along the East Wing entrance, scenic landscape designs will bring forth the harmony of American and Korean cultures, featuring some of the National symbols of the United States including the American Bison, the American Bald Eagle, roses, stars, and will include the Korean magpie and Korean tiger, that hold an important meaning within Korean culture.
  • Floral Arrangements:?Peonies, Orchids, Cherry Blossoms, and Azaleas (a native Korean flower) are incorporated in the design and décor.

Guests will enjoy musical selections by Broadway stars Norm Lewis, Lea Salonga and Jessica Vosk, bringing a quintessentially American art form to the world stage. Additionally, guests will experience performances from "The President's Own" United States Marine Band Chamber Orchestra and the United States Army Band Herald Trumpets.

Norm Lewis
Norm Lewis is an Emmy, Grammy, Tony, and SAG-nominated performer with a career spanning film, television,?and theater. He?can currently be seen onstage starring in the national tour of the Tony Award-winning production of?A Soldier's Play. Lewis' Broadway credits include?The Phantom of the Opera, making history in 2014 as Broadway's first African American Phantom); the Tony Award-winning revival of?Once On This Island;?Chicken & Biscuits; The Gershwins'?Porgy and Bess;?Sondheim on Sondheim; The Little Mermaid; and?Les Misérables. He also starred in the?2017 Off-Broadway production of?Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, receiving the AUDELCO Award for his performance. Lewis' screen credits include Spike Lee's critically acclaimed?film, Da 5 Bloods?(Netflix);?Pose?(FX);?Mrs. America?(Hulu);?Law & Order?(NBC);?Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert?(ABC);?Scandal?(ABC);?Women of the Movement?(ABC);?Christmas in Tune?(Lifetime),?Up Here?(Hulu), and seven PBS specials. Lewis is also a proud founding member of Black Theatre United.

Lea Salonga
Multiple award-winning actress and singer Lea Salonga is renowned across the world for her powerful voice and perfect pitch. She is best known for her Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning role of Kim in?Miss Saigon. She has appeared as both Eponine and Fantine in?Les Misérables?on Broadway in additional to starring in the 10th and 25th anniversary concert productions. Lea has also starred on Broadway in?Flower Drum Song?and?Once On This Island. Many fans of all ages recognize Lea as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Disney's motion picture?Aladdin?and Fa Mulan for?Mulan?and?Mulan II. For her portrayal of the beloved princesses, the Walt Disney Company bestowed her with the honor of "Disney Legend." Lea stars in the first season of the HBO Max television show?Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin?(a reboot of the popular series), after starring in the critically acclaimed musical drama?Yellow Rose?(Sony). Lea has toured all over the world, performing sold-out concerts at some of the world's most iconic venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Sydney Opera House, 02 Arena, Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Singapore's Esplanade, Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, Hong Kong Cultural Center, Queen Sirikit Convention Center in Bangkok and Carnegie Hall in New York.

Jessica Vosk
Jessica Vosk is a celebrated singer and actress known for stirring roles on the musical theater and concert stage. Vosk made her Carnegie Hall debut in November 2021 in a sold-out solo show titled "My Golden Age." Other upcoming concert debuts include London's Cadogan Hall in 2022. Prior, she starred as the Narrator in the 50th anniversary of?Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?at Lincoln Center. She also created the role of Aunt Val in the world premiere of?Becoming Nancy, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. Before that, Vosk finished an acclaimed run as Elphaba in?Wicked?on Broadway, having played the role for two years. Vosk starred in New York City Ballet's Jerome Robbins tribute?Something to Dance About, directed by Warren Carlyle, and re-created the role of Fruma Sarah in the most recent Broadway revival of?Fiddler on the Roof. Other Broadway credits include?Finding Neverland?and?The Bridges of Madison County. She starred as Anita in?West Side Story?with the San Francisco Symphony; the recording of the concert was nominated for a Grammy. Her debut, Billboard-charting solo album?Wild and Free?was released in 2018 and was followed by 2020's?A Very Coco Christmas.

Michael Arden - Director
Michael Arden is a Tony-nominated director for his revivals of?Spring Awakening?and?Once On This Island,?and his new production of?PARADE?is currently playing on Broadway after a sellout run at New York City Center. Other work includes the Los Angeles premiere of?The Pride?by Alexi Kaye Campbell,?My Fair Lady?at the Bay Street Theater, and?Annie?at the Hollywood Bowl. Michael won an NAACP Award for his production of?Merrily We Roll Along?at the Wallis Annenberg, where he served as Artist in Residence. His new adaptation of Charles Dickens'?A Christmas Carol?starring Tony winner Jefferson Mays garnered eight Ovation Awards and recently played Broadway this past holiday season. Michael most recently directed the new musical?Maybe Happy Ending?at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. He is a Presidential Scholar in the Arts and alumni of the Interlochen Arts Academy and The Juilliard School.

Ted Arthur - Musical Director
Ted Arthur is a New York-based musical director and pianist. He is the International Associate Music Supervisor for?Moulin Rouge!?and worked on the North American tour and Germany and Korea productions this past year.? Most recently, he was the Music Director of the premiere production of Disney's?Hercules?at Paper Mill Playhouse. He was the Music Director for?Diana?on Broadway and the Associate Music Director for?The Prom.?Ted has also worked on?Mean Girls,?Once On This Island,?Dear Evan Hansen?and?Wicked. Ted is a proud member of MUSE (Musicians United For Social Equity) and on the Board of Trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.?Ted will be the Music Director of?Back To The Future?when it comes to Broadway in summer 2023. Additionally, Ted has worked on a number of benefit concerts including?Sondheim's 90th Birthday Celebration.

April 24, 2023

FLOTUS pool report #2 - FLOTUS state dinner preview

Jill Biden previewed Wednesday's state dinner.

There will be 200 guests attending, per Social Secretary Carlos Elizondo.

Note the actual state dinner will take place in the East Room. The press preview took place in the state dining room: two tables were decorated as they will be Wednesday night.

There was one round table with a platinum-coloredblue table cloth. The color is in honor of the 70thanniversary of the Republic of Korea alliance.

There was a square table that was made out of teal blue plexiglass.

The tables look dramatic. The centerpiece is a vase of massive Cherry stems with their pink blossoms towering about six feet over the table.

The table setting consists of the George W Bush China. The plate has a gold eagle in the center. Each napkin had a fresh flower blossom on it.

The bamboo chairs have a white seating pad and a blue covering over the back withdesigns evoking traditional sumukhwa (Korean ink brush painting). The designs are branches with peonies, representing prosperity and joy, and bamboo elements, representing longevity and strength.

There are smaller vases of flowers on the table around the cherry stem centerpiece - Peonies, Orchids, Cherry Blossoms, and Azaleas (a native Korean flower). All are pink, red or white. Candles twinkle between the flower arrangements.

The tables seat 10.

Here are remarks. As always, please check against transcript.

FLOTUS: "From my mother, I learned that setting a table can be an act of love. With just fresh flowers and a set of candles, she could turn an ordinary dinner, into a magical moment that stayed with us long after the dishes were cleared away. Once I had my own family, I did my best to keep that tradition alive."

More: "From my husband, I learned that all politics is personal. It's about finding the common threads of humanity that connects us that transcend distance and difference and building on those shared values. We hope to bring those two ideas together, as we welcome President Yoon and Mrs. Kim, honoring the 70 years of our alliance with symbols and moments of beauty that reflect both our countries."

She said the decor was to "showcase the harmony of our cultures and our people intertwined."

On the cherry stems towering over the tables: "You have to admit that's pretty spectacular. "

On Chef Edward Lee: "His style of cuisine reflects his Korean family and the influence of his New York upbringing and Kentucky Home. Chef Lee creates meals that are both familiar and surprising. A fusion of different worlds that finds a perfect balance. We're honored to have his incredible talent."

On the entertainment: "Finally the evening will conclude with something distinctly American -musicals. Broadway stars will perform renditions of iconic songs, showcasing the craft and creativity of our country."

More FLOTUS: "When the President and I traveled to the Republic of Korea in the past, we have been welcomed with open arms. And it's my intention to bring much warmth and joy to President Yoon and Mrs. Kim Wednesday evening."

White House social secretary Carlos Elizondo: "In the many years I've worked with Dr. Biden, her most important hosting priority has always been to make sure every guest feels welcomed and valued."

He added: "This will be our first state dinner hosted on the State Floor. And from the moment guests step through the East portico, they will be surrounded by the history and heritage of both nations."

He said "the evening begins with a reception on the ground floor. Pink Azaleas found abundantly in South Korea and in our capital city will adorn the cocktail tables. Platinum is also woven throughout the room, the color of the 70th anniversary of the US Korea alliance. As guests enter the East Room, we hope they will feel a sense of belonging and friendship that can only come from gathering together."

More: "For the first lady it was important to choose flowers that means something not only to her, but also to Mrs. Kim, in shades of reds and pinks that complement the table's blues."

More: "And when each President speaks, he will be framed by the vibrant colors and designs you may expect to see at an ancient Korean temple along with the historic architecture of this storied house, symbolizing our nation's powerful history together and our flourishing future."

Chef Edward Lee: "I've always loved and promoted the intersection of American cuisine with Korean flavors. As a kid, Thanksgiving dinners were my family's favorite meals. And it was very traditional with Turkey and sides and stuffing. But being Korean we always had to put soy sauce and kimchi on everything."

More: "And I've kept that spirit throughout my whole culinary career. So to honor the long standing collaboration and friendship between America and South Korea, I wanted to showcase the best of American cuisine merged with a touch of Korean flavors. It's always a delight for me to be able to create the intersection of flavors for the guests to see how well they blend together. I was honored to work with the First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in choosing the menu items as well as the look and feel of the presentation of this momentous occasion. You know executing a dinner like this of this magnitude is a team effort. And the White House chefs and staff have been the best team that I've ever had the pleasure of working with."

Chef Lee showed off the plates of food and took a few questions.

On his inspiration for the dinner - asked if it was season or based on favorites such as the president liking ice cream, Lee: "So yes, that was the first thing I was told - ice cream."

More: "We always want to lead with the seasons. We always want to lead with what's fresh, what's available. ... So really we wanted to do spring, something that's fresh. So again, whether it's the you know, traditionally grits are made with dried corn, but we want to do something that's you know, herbaceous and green. So we did the butter bean. The yellow squash is perfect and in season right now. The fresh coleslaw being you know, bright. But again, I wanted to take some of my favorite American foods and just tinker with it a little bit. And this is also how I cook in my restaurants - to just add a little bit of Korean touches to it. Where again, it's familiar yet unexpected, and it's not traditional Korean food, but it just gives you a little hint of Korean flavors."

On how he came up with the menu: "We came up with a number of dishes. We did a tasting with Dr. Jill Biden and her staff. And we tasted through, oh, I don't know 10, 12, 13 different courses of food. It was really just a collaboration of talking through what fit for the dinner with you know, just the presentation."

Asked if he felt pressure: "Yes, it's a lot. You know, the first person I called was my mother. And, you know, I've done a lot of these dinners and I've done dinners for thousands of people. But this is a little more important. There's diplomacy involved. And there is some, you know, my mother was an immigrant that came here from Korea. And we struggled and we had amazing opportunities. And we've always felt this huge debt of gratitude to the United States of America for the opportunities that they've had, that I've been able to have. So to come full circle, and to give back and be able to do this was, you know, a very proud moment for me and also for my mom."

Asked what advice his mom gave him: "She just said don't mess it up."

And no his mom is not coming to the dinner on Wednesday.

That's a wrap. Please reach out with any questions.

Jill Biden, First Lady Pool Reports of April 24, 2023 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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