The Capital: Adieu to Pease Porridge

Pickled okra. Spinach soufflé. Double divinity. Et, mon Dieu, ze bar-bé-cue! Escoffier would have turned in his grave. Last week White House Chef René Verdon, who is only mortal, turned in his apron instead.

A onetime chef aboard the French Line's Liberté and later at Manhattan's perfectionist Carlyle Hotel, French-born René was hired by John F. Kennedy in April 1961. He made a memorable White House debut with trout cooked in Chablis as the entrée at a luncheon for former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. The Kennedys' treasure later won international renown...

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