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Lunch for the Princes of the Potomac Pays Profits to Peers of the Realm

Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Fit For A MOTU (photo: svadilfari/flickr)

Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Fit For A MOTU (photo: svadilfari/flickr)

On an idle whim, wondering what the Pampered Princes of the Potomac, otherwise known as US Senators, were having for lunch in their exclusive dining room, I looked up the menu [PDF].

It’s easy to imagine the setting, clubby with attentive staff, and a table of the ultra-privileged starting off with  some lovely Seared Sea Scallops over Broccoli Rabe, with Truffle Butter – $12.00. Amid congratulatory and deal making tones circulating the table, perhaps one Lord moves on to the entree, selecting the Lemon Rosemary Grilled Shrimp with Red Wine & Wild Mushroom Risotto, Aged Romano Cheese – $22.00,  while his guest, perhaps some Baron of a Bank in an adventuresome mood chooses the Sweet Chipotle Glazed Salmon accompanied by a Hominy Puree and  Sautéed Garlic Broccolini  – $22.00. But hey this is a bargain in DC!

The Yellowfin Tuna, Florida citrus salad with oranges and grapefruit, shaved baby fennel, mizuna and Meyer lemon yuzu vinaigrette  at Georgetown’s 1789 will set you back $36. Don’t even THINK about the prices at Citronelle. By comparison, the Senate Dining Room is a bargain – and the best part? It turns a profit, as it’s been privatized.

In the Summer of  2008 Dianne Feinstein championed the effort. Restaurant Associates was awarded the business, which suited the Versailles Villagers quite nicely, since RA was a known quantity in the rarefied New York set, providing the catering for the Kennedy Center, the Guggenheim, Galas for Metropolitan Opera Opening Night, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and New York Philharmonic Annual Opening Night & Spring Galas. See, they’re “our type” of people.

Now the chef that RA put in charge of the whole operation, as there are multiple outlets in the Dirksen building and the connecting corridor and a cafe open to the public, is Benjamin Cadmus, who RA wooed away from his previous string of chef positions beginning with CitiGroup, Morgan Stanely, and ultimately from Bank of America. Yeah, The Bankers’ Chef.

Chef Cadmus really knows which side of the bread is buttered. This DC Fish wholesaler notes how Cadmus was a key person to put together a little function for Mary Landrieu and President Obama to help smooth over that little oil incident in the Gulf and show how safe and tasty Gulf Seafood is. That’s TEAMWORK I tell you! The kind of teamwork that 18-year veteran Senate Dining Room chef Don Perez probably wasn’t good at. Because Cadmus fired him last October.

“They said, ‘You’re on your way out,’” he recalled of the condolences his colleagues communicated after learning of the crackdown.

Sources close to the dining operations went from being alarmed to disgusted.

“To be railroaded in six months after 18 years of service just really sucks,” one source groused.

Their biggest beef? That other RA employees were shuffled into less stressful positions, whereas Perez was overburdened, then shown the door.

Hey, that’s the breaks Chef Perez. RA has to report to Compass Group back in Charlotte. And the reports better be good. That client list must be impressed at all times, and the $8 Billion or better in revenues from the North American division is quite necessary to shore up the UK based parent’s bottom line.

Sir Roy Gardner (upper left picture) can’t have it any other way. Gardner’s really good at screwing up rugby teams for starters. And since being a senior adviser to Credit Suisse it looks to me that he’s developed a little specialty: securing government business by encouraging government outsourcing and privatization. The Telegraph:

Sir Roy Gardner is to become chairman of fast growing FTSE 250 support services company Connaught.

The Compass Group chairman, 65, is said to have bought into the Devon-based company’s potential to secure more large scale public sector outsourcing contracts as local authorities come under increased pressure to cut costs. An announcement is expected to be made to the Stock Exchange on Monday.

Full circle – the Princes of the Potomac get bargain gourmet lunches, grease political skids, there’s a Bank connection at every turn, they remove veteran employees by privatization, funnel profits to other Peers who then help to fuel the Austerity/Privatization cycle.

Since the rest of us need a bargain, the Raj Vaidya, the sommelier from Per Se, Cru and currently at flagship New York eatery Daniel, suggests a specific less-than-$25 wine for the above canard:

A 2005 Jobard Claudie Rully la Chaume, Burgundy: Lovely freshness, a medium bodied yet richer option for the duck, a touch gamey even.”

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Kelly Canfield

Kelly Canfield