White House Chef Dishes Secrets in New Cook Book

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WASHINGTON - At the White House, chefs spend months preparing for the many parties and receptions hosted by the president and first lady.

They're used to feeding large crowds, but they also have another important job -- feeding the first family.

The White House is home to the most well-known families in the world. The public may know a lot about their lives, but at the end of the day when they head to the private residence on the second floor -- what do they want?

Chef John Moeller worked in the White House kitchen for more than a decade serving President George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Now he's dishing on what they ate in his new book Dining at the White House, From the President's Table to Yours.

How does a kid from Dutch country Pennsylvania wind up being a chef in the White House?

"Obviously the short answer is right place, right time," Moeller told CBN News.

"It was extraordinary. I mean, you see this person on the TV, but then you see this person on the second floor of the White House just enjoying a meal. It could be chicken pot pie or filet mignon. It was extraordinary," he recalled.

Moeller cooked for state dinners, plated thousands of hors d'oeuvres for Christmas parties, and perhaps most importantly, prepared daily meals for the first family.

What does the president eat for breakfast? What does he eat for lunch and dinner?

"Every Thursday I would submit menus for the coming week and by Friday afternoon it was up on this little table where the west sitting hall is. It was up where they could see it and show what the menu was for the week," he explained.

But sometimes first children, like Chelsea Clinton, didn't want gourmet.

"I think mom and dad were out one night and she asked for some mac and cheese. So I boiled some noodles, made a bechamel sauce, grated some cheese, mixed it all together and she said that was all well and good, but next time could I have the one from the box you know," he said.

"So, I wasn't really hurt. I mean, we're there to serve. So if that's something she likes, then we'd keep a couple boxes on the shelf there so every once in a while, if she's by herself and she'd like a quick meal while mom and dad were out, we'd break out the Kraft mac and cheese," he continued.

Moeller is also known for his infamous chicken pot pie that some say transcends party lines.

"Late in the Clinton administration he was having dinner one night on a cold winter's evening and I decided to do a chicken pot pie recipe from my home town of Pennsylvania. And it's a nice hard chicken pot pie with - instead of the dough being on top we make it and put it inside as a heavy dumpling," Moeller explained.

"So I put it in the bowl and sent it up to him and I was in the butler's pantry there and the door opened up. I see the president leaning over the bowl and he looked up at me and gave me a big thumbs up and said, 'John, this is the kind of food I like.' And Mrs. Clinton was standing there and said, 'Let's make a few extra biscuits with that next time.'"

I said, "absolutely. And then when George W. Bush came into office - it was a cold winter's night and he was by himself and I said, lemme try that chicken pot pie recipe again. And would you know, the same thing happened," he recalled.

"I was upstairs, the door opened up, he was leaning over the bowl eating it. He looked up at me, gave me the big thumbs up and said, 'John, this is the kind of food I like,' you know. So a good cup of soup warms the soul," he continued.

Should people be intimidated? Can the average cook actually read these recipes and come out with a product that's pretty close to what you came out with?

"I think so - what our final testing was - we sent them out to a group of home cooks all across this country, actually, and they recreated them. And they got back to us with comments and we adjusted some prep times and things of that nature. But for the most part they enjoyed it - they said they were able to execute this," he replied.

For Moeller it was the job of a lifetime.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.