February 22, 2024
Caterers pulled off this diplomatic luncheon with one week's notice

Climate change, fentanyl, the supply chain and artificial intelligence topped the menu of topics that President Biden and China’s President Xi discussed at a secluded Woodside meeting during this month’s APEC Summit.

But, curious minds want to know, what was on the other menu? Who had the honor of feeding two world leaders and their diplomatic entourages?

The luncheon at the Filoli Historic House & Garden, a grand estate built in 1917, was created by Taste Catering of Burlingame, a major player when it comes to upscale Bay Area dinners, weddings, parties and corporate events.

President Joe Biden and China’s President President Xi Jinping walk in the gardens at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, Calif., Wednesday, Nov, 15, 2023, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative conference. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool) 

How much notice did Taste receive for an event of this stature?

“We got one week,” said Margaret Teskey, the company’s president. “But when the White House calls … we answer!”

The engraved invitations were printed by the White House, and the U.S. and China flag emblems on them were hand-painted, she said. Filoli used its antique china sets and sterling silver Tiffany cutlery for the meal, which featured:

As a first course, Herbed Ricotta Ravioli with Artichoke Crisps; the main course of Tarragon-Roasted Heritage Chicken with Carolina Gold Rice Pilaf, Charred Broccolini and Brussels Sprouts; and for dessert, Almond Meringue Cake with Praline Buttercream and Concord Grape Sauce.

President Joe Biden Meets with China’s President President Xi Jinping at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, Calif., Wednesday, Nov, 15, 2023, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative conference. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool) 

The guest count was just shy of 60, Teskey said, noting that it took executive chef Aaron Placencia, pastry chef Vanessa Garrido, several other Taste chefs and 12 servers to pull it off, in addition to the behind-the-scenes roles played by Helene Dubuc, Filoli’s director of events, and Taste account exec Christopher Lee.

Naturally, she said, “We also worked in tandem with the White House culinary team.”

Many of the luncheon details are subject to the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) that Teskey and others signed.

So, while we wanted to know if Secretary of State Antony Blinken ate all of his broccolini and whether the Brussels sprouts were sauteed with bacon, which is how most restaurants here get Americans to eat them, the Taste team was not able to dish on those details.

Praise for all involved came from the executive director of the Leading Caterers of America association, Carl Sacks, who congratulated them via CaterSource.com for “providing the catering for an event that brought together two of the three most powerful people in the world.”

He quipped: “If only Taylor Swift had been there, it would have been a trifecta.”

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