The College Endowment Association
Community Enrichment Since 1890

Roland Mesnier - All the Presidents' Pastry—Tales of a White House Chef

Program Date: February 21, 2018

Roland Mesnier

Roland Mesnier is a French-American pastry chef and culinary writer. His creations during his twenty five years as Executive Pastry Chef (1979–2004) at the White House earned him the reputation of a creative genius.

Mesnier was born into a family of nine children in the village of Bonnay, France. When he was fourteen, his mother secured an apprenticeship for him at a pastry shop in Besançon. Eventually he found his way to Paris, working in a restaurant and pastry shop near the Opéra Garnier. Mesnier lived in Hamburg and Hanover and learned how to master the German and English languages.

Mesnier was hired as White House pastry chef in 1979 by First Lady Rosalynn Carter and retired on July 30, 2004. Having witnessed major world events from the hub of the world's superpower, Mesnier has unique perspective on both crises and celebrations. He recounts stories such as Carter's incessant battle for the return of American hostages in Tehran, the aftermath of the attempt to assassinate Reagan, Bush senior's doubts after the war in Kuwait, and the shock of September 11.