Goodbye to a Pastry Chef
Posted: November 1, 2022
Roland Mesnier was the White House executive pastry chef. He created incredible desserts for five presidents and their guests. Mr. Mesnier died in August. He was 78.
First Lady Rosalynn Carter hired Mr. Mesnier in 1979. He retired when George W. Bush was president. Very few White House chefs have served longer than that!
Mr. Mesnier often had to prepare thousands of pastries at once.
“I’ve noticed that Democrats usually eat more than Republicans,” Mr. Mesnier said. “I’ve also observed that if the guests are mostly ladies, they will usually eat more pastries than men.”
Mr. Mesnier grew up in France with eight brothers and sisters. He began his career as an apprentice at age 14. (An apprentice learns a craft by watching an expert at work. For some jobs, this makes way more sense than going to school!) Mr. Mesnier left home with a cardboard suitcase and five francs (French money) to begin his training. He later worked in Paris and cities in Germany. Eventually, he landed a job at the fancy Savoy hotel in London.
How did he get to the White House? In 1967, he became a pastry chef at a hotel in Bermuda. He met his future wife there. She was from West Virginia. A decade later, he was working as a chef in Virginia. He heard that the White House was looking for a new pastry chef. (Check a map. Virginia is very close to Washington, D.C.)
Mr. Mesnier said a White House pastry chef doesn’t get a lot of spare time.
“It could be Christmas Day, Easter, your birthday, your mother’s birthday, your child’s birthday—you are going to be at the White House if you are needed,” he said. “The White House always comes first.”
Why? We can do “all for the glory of God”—big tasks and small! That even includes serving others with dessert.