Roland Mesnier, Former White House Pastry Chef To 5 Presidents, Dies At 78

Roland Mesnier, Former White House Pastry Chef To 5 Presidents, Dies At 78

Roland Mesnier, who as an executive pastry chef at the White House often made magical desserts for five presidents and their guests, has died at the age of 78.

His death was confirmed Saturday by the White House Historical Association, which said he died Friday after a short illness.

Mesnier, one of the longest-serving White House chefs, was hired by First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1979 and retired during the George W. Bush administration.

Answering questions in an online “Ask the White House” forum in 2004, he explained that when preparing desserts, not just for the first family, but for parties, receptions and dinners, he was often asked for thousands of pastries. to prepare. He said he planned the number of pastries based on who would be attending.

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“In the 25 years I’ve been here, I’ve noticed that Democrats usually eat more than Republicans,” Mesnier said. “I’ve also noticed that if the guests are mostly women, they tend to eat more pastries than men.”

At Christmastime, he was known for the elaborate gingerbread houses he made to decorate the White House. He said he also had to make more cakes than usual for Christmas parties, as some tended to “disappear in purses or purses” and often ended up as Christmas tree decorations in people’s homes.

Mesnier grew up in Bonnay, a village in the east of France, in a family of nine children and started his career as an apprentice at the age of 14. White House records describe him leaving the house with a cardboard briefcase and five francs to begin his apprenticeship at the Patisserie. Maurivard in Besancon, France. He later worked in Paris and the German cities of Hanover and Hamburg before landing a job at the Savoy hotel in London.

In 1967 he became a pastry chef at a hotel in Bermuda and while living on the island met his future wife, a vacation teacher from West Virginia. A decade later, he was working at The Homestead Resort in Virginia when he learned that the White House was looking for a new pastry chef.

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When asked about working in the White House in 2004, he said, “You don’t think about free time, leisure, etc. because your time is in the White House. Whenever you are needed, you have to be there.”

“It could be Christmas Day, Easter, your birthday, your mom’s birthday, your kid’s birthday — you’re at the White House when you’re needed,” he said.

“The White House always comes first.”

He is survived by his son, George Mesnier.

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