Monday, January 21, 2013
Chicago culinary icon’s cake is topped with replica of the Capitol Dome, and will be centerpiece of the Staff Inaugural Ball, where Lady Gaga will headline…
The very last inaugural ball of President Barack Obama’s two terms in office will be on Tuesday evening, Jan. 22, when the tireless troops who helped win the White House will party at the Staff Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center. The President and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend to thank their base. Appropriately, the impressive dessert comes from the President’s adopted hometown, ground-zero for his political career and his first and second campaigns. Eli’s Cheesecake Company, a Chicago culinary icon, is creating a 500-pound cake for the party, which will be topped with a replica of the Capitol Dome. (Above, Eli’s Executive Pastry Chef at work on the masterpiece in Chicago)
President Obama is a fan of Eli’s: One of their jumbo creations was served at the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball at his first inauguration. And the President proudly posed with a chocolate-covered Eli’s cheesecake created for President Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial Birthday Banquet in February of 2009. President Obama keynoted the dinner in Springfield, Ill., and today America’s #1 Lincoln fan will be re-sworn-in with his hand atop Honest Abe’s 1861 Bible.
Masterminded by Eli’s executive pastry chef Laurel Bolger, the three-tiered cake for the Staff Ball is being created at Eli’s Chicago headquarters, and will be covered with 100 pounds of buttercream frosting, decorated with dancing gold stars, a blue presidential eagle, and the inaugural seal. The layers will alternate between two of Eli’s most popular flavors, plain and chocolate chip, company president Marc Schulman, son of founder Eli Schulman, told Obama Foodorama.
“We’re very proud, since the President is from Chicago, and so many staff are too,” Schulman said. “It is very meaningful. There are so many events, and we’re honored to play a small role.”
Or, er, a large role. All told, the gargantuan cheesecake uses 155 pounds of cream cheese, 50 pounds of butter, 45 pounds of sugar, 40 pounds of sour cream, 20 pounds of flour, 15 pounds of chocolate chips, 5 pounds of powdered sugar, 20 dozen eggs, and two cups of Madagascar vanilla, in addition to the 100 pounds of buttercream frosting. (Above, a graphic of the finished cheesecake)
Chef Bolger and the giant cake layers will travel in a refrigerated truck from Chicago to DC, leaving on Monday afternoon around 3:00 PM, just as the President and Mrs. Obama are marching in the inaugural parade from the Capitol to the White House.
After an overnight drive of more than 700 miles, the cheesecake will be assembled at the Convention Center on Tuesday morning, where the finishing touches will be put on, Schulman said. Along with “back up” cheesecakes of six to eight other flavors Eli’s will bring to the Staff Ball, the domed beauty will serve 6,000 people.
A spokesman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee declined to specify how many total guests have been invited to the Ball–or what else will be on the menu; organizers have released no details about the event. Superstar Lady Gaga will reportedly headline, however, an “inaugural source” tipped both Hollywood Reporter and AP.
Eli’s cheesecakes also starred at two previous inaugural celebrations, served at President Bill Clinton’s inaugural balls in 1993 and 1997, Schulman said.
“We took a break during the Bush years,” Schulman said.
Clinton and his wife, now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visited Eli’s bakery in 1992, and were wowed. The Secretary has a silver palate, and goes down in history as the First Lady who brought contemporary American cuisine to the White House, after a focus on French cooking in the previous decades. Eli’s has also created masterpieces for loads of other celebrations, including current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s inauguration (which followed his stint as President Obama’s first Chief of Staff); Chicago’s 150th and 175th Birthday cakes, and for the White Sox World Series Win.
Schulman has been in DC since last week, and will be very busy on Tuesday, making sure everything is ready for the President’s final inaugural party. Getting invited to serve food at any presidential inaugural is a rare honor, and Schulman is suitably thrilled.
“Four times in twenty years is pretty spectacular,” Schulman said. “It’s been great.”
The six-tiered cake for President Obama’s Commander-in Chief’s Ball on Monday night is being created by Duff Goldman’s Charm City Bakery in Baltimore, Maryland.
The late Eli Schulman first started offering his cheesecake in 1980 as the signature dessert at the legendary Eli’s The Place for Steak in Chicago, and the company now ships their cheesecakes and other desserts around the nation. The website is here. (Above, Bolger and staff with the cheesecake layers)
*Photos courtesy of Marc Schulman/Eli’s Cheesecake Company