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Mario Batali is chef and star of Obama’s final state dinner (VIDEO)

US President Barack Obama toasts Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, US, October 18, 2016. — Reuters pic
US President Barack Obama toasts Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, US, October 18, 2016. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Oct 19 — Molto Mario will serve some well-seasoned political symbolism along with his beef braciole at President Barack Obama’s last State Dinner, where he will host Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

In Mario Batali, Obama and his wife, Michelle, have chosen as their guest chef not only one of the most famous cooks in the US but also a political ally. The Food Network star behind some of the nation’s most popular Italian restaurants is involved in non-profit work to help provide nutritious food to schoolchildren in the US and South Africa, causes near and dear to Michelle Obama. He’s also been active in a #ChefsForHillary movement on Pinterest to benefit Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The Obamas have turned to celebrity chefs before for State Dinners, including Marcus Samuelsson for India and Rick Bayless for Mexico. Batali’s high profile has helped to draw interest in the last such event of the Obama era.

Here’s what’s for dinner:

First Course: Sweet Potato Agnolotti with Butter and Sage, paired with a Palmina Vermentino “Santa Ynez” 2015

Salad Course: Warm Butternut Squash Salad with Frisee and Pecorino di New York, paired with a Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese ‘Napa” 2012

Main Course: Beef Braciole Pinwheel with Horseradish Gremolata and Broccoli Rabe — with a vegetarian option — paired with a Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel “East Bench” 2014

Dessert: Green Apple Crostata with Thyme Caramel and Buttermilk Gelato

“Celebrating Autumn’s Harvest” and a variety of petits fours: Sweet Corn Crema and Blackberry Cup; Concord Grape Bittersweet Chocolate Leaf; Orange Fig Slice; Pumpkin Cranberry Tart Tiramisu

The three wines on the menu are accessibly priced California varietals. The white served with the first course isn’t as well known in the US, but its makers say it’s popular on the Italian island of Sardinia. — Bloomberg

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