WASHINGTON — Here’s what the Obama family had on its plate Saturday evening: the White House chef’s wedding.
President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were to be among the guests at the wedding of Sam Kass, their longtime family chef and a close friend of the first family. The bride is MSNBC host Alex Wagner. She and Kass are being married at a farm-to-table restaurant in Westchester County, north of New York City.
Obama and Kass, who also serves as food policy counselor and regular presidential golfing partner, have a strong friendship. That bond was highlighted earlier this month when Obama went to Kass’ Washington apartment for dinner amid the headlines from Iraq, Ukraine and Ferguson, Missouri.
It’s long been said that a president’s most valuable commodity is his time. The fact that Obama spent five hours at Kass’ apartment on one of the 30-something aide’s final evenings as a bachelor attests to their rapport. Obama’s rounds of golf are often his only other outings that last as long — and those games often include Kass.
The first couple and daughters Malia and Sasha were attending the ceremony at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York.
The union of Kass, 34, and Wagner, 36, also highlighted what some contend is too much togetherness between the media and the people they cover. Naturally, the guest list is expected to include staff from both the White House and the liberal-leaning cable news outlet, with people from both sides breaking bread at the same dinner table.
Kass began preparing meals for the Obamas when the family lived in Chicago. They then persuaded him to come to the White House in 2009. Now he’s one of their longest-serving aides.
Besides preparing meals most weeknights, Kass is also a senior nutrition policy adviser and executive director of the first lady’s anti-childhood obesity initiative.
It’s not unusual for presidents to attend or participate in weddings.
Recent presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, mostly attended weddings for family members.
The weddings Obama has witnessed as president were all for top aides, not family. His sister and brother-in-law where married before Obama took office; his daughters are still in middle and high school.
Last October, Obama hosted a Rose Garden wedding for Pete Souza, the president’s chief official photographer.
In June 2012, Obama and his family attended the backyard wedding of the daughter of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. The ceremony was held a block from the Obamas’ home in Chicago and the Obama family walked over.
In May 2008, George W. Bush was in office when his daughter, Jenna, married at the family ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Bill Clinton was best man for his brother, Roger, in March 1994. Later that year his brother-in-law, Tony Rodham, was married.
Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, participated in the August 1984 wedding of their daughter Patti Davis. Reagan spoke one line in the ceremony, responding “Her mother and I do” when asked who would give away the bride.