Chief Executive Officers Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric Co. joined with entertainers and dignitaries including former President Jimmy Carter among the 225 guests invited to President Barack Obama’s state dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The guest list released by the administration included U.S. and Chinese executives, diplomats, public officials and celebrities such as singer Barbra Streisand and actor Jackie Chan. Chan arrived with a camera to record the event. Streisand joked to reporters that she was invited because “I worked in a Chinese restaurant.”
The list also had a bipartisan flavor with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, a Democrat. Other guests included Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Some of the business leaders in attendance also took part in a session with Hu organized by the administration earlier today. Along with Immelt and Ballmer, those who met with the Chinese leader were Jim McNerney of Boeing Co., Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Sybase Inc. chief executive John Chen; Coca-Cola Co. chief executive Muhtar Kent; DuPont Co. CEO Ellen J. Kullman; John Thornton, chairman of HSBC Holdings Plc’s North American division; David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of Carlyle Group; Paul Otellini, Intel Corp. CEO; and Dow Chemical Co. CEO Andrew Liveris.
Among those who weren’t there: three of the four top U.S. congressional leaders. House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky took a pass on the black-tie event. Aides to all three cited scheduling conflicts.
They are set to meet Hu tomorrow when the Chinese leader goes to the U.S. Capitol.
Guests were to sit at round tables of 10 spread out between the Blue Room, Red Room and State Dining Room on the main floor of the White House. Dinner linens featured pheasants in jewel tones that reflected the work of American artist John James Audubon. The floral arrangements included feathers in honor of the pheasant, China’s native bird, and a mix of flowers and berries.
They would be served a “quintessentially American” meal, according to the menu released by the White House, beginning with a D’Anjou pear salad with farmstead goat cheese, fennel, black walnuts, and white balsamic.
The main course for the third state dinner hosted by the president and Michelle Obama featured poached Maine lobster, dry aged rib eye with double stuffed potatoes and creamed spinach. To finish, the guests were to be served apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
In keeping with the theme, the meal was accompanied by American wines: the lobster served with Dumol Chardonnay “Russian River” 2008, the steak with Quilceda Creek Cabernet “Columbia Valley” 2005, and the apple pie served with Poet’s Leap Riesling “Botrytis” 2008.
Some of the ingredients in the evening’s meal came from The Chef’s Garden, a vegetable and herb supplier in Huron, Ohio that focuses on sustainability and affordability. Herbs from the White House garden also were used in the meal. The honey in the dessert came from the first lady’s White House kitchen garden, located on the South Lawn of the White House.
Trumpeter Chris Botti, singers Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater were to entertain the guests in the White House’s East Room with “An Evening of Jazz.”
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