Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier
White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier retired from the White House on July 30, 2004.
One of nine children, Roland Mesnier grew up in the tiny village of Bonnay, France, population 140. He began his career in the kitchen at age 14 as an apprentice. From there, he worked in many different kitchens throughout Europe and eventually found himself in Bermuda, where he met his wife Martha. After nine years in Bermuda, Chef Mesnier made his way to the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.
In 1979, First Lady Rosalynn Carter hired Chef Mesnier and he became the sole pastry chef, which allowed him to mold and shape the pastry kitchen into his own.
"This is when I realized why I became a pastry chef in the first place. Because I totally enjoy, even today after 48 years in the kitchen, to create anything from a simple cookie to a pie to a wedding cake to a beautiful showpiece which you have seen on television for Christmas," Mesnier said.
He insisted all desserts made in the White House would come only from the White House, causing him to work endless hours. Mesnier recalled making 1500 cookies without any assistance and another time creating a half ton of fruitcake by himself. He has prepared hundreds of desserts for State Dinners over the years—never once making the same dessert twice.
Chef Mesnier has a quick wit evidenced by his repertoire with visitors on the White House web site. When asked if he himself could be a pastry, what would that pastry be, Mesnier responded, "I would like to be a big, fat doughnut."
Chef Mesnier’s perfection and dedication have been felt throughout the entire White House, whether by the First Family, their guests, or the White House staff, he has left his mark. His jovial laughter and quick wit will surely be missed.