Top Irish chef Cathal Armstrong was at home entertaining family last Saturday night when he got the call to tell that him the world’s most powerful man was set to dine in his four-star restaurant in Virginia.
“I was at home getting the dinner ready when I got the call to say you need to come in now,” he told the Irish Voice.
Originally from Dublin, Armstrong is the owner and executive chef of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia. The award-winning chef hosted President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama last Saturday for the celebrations of their 19th wedding anniversary, something he describes as a “huge honor.”
“I am a big fan of them both. I think they have done tremendous work in leadership,” says Armstrong.
Armstrong runs his business alongside his partner Meshelle, and together the husband and wife team have established three restaurants in Old Town, testament to their hard work and a natural flair for the industry.
Restaurant Eve was recently named by The Daily Meal as one of top 100 restaurants in the U.S.
When the call came to say the presidential entourage was en route to Restaurant Eve, it was all systems go.
“It was very exciting, all of our stomachs were in a state of flurry but we didn’t let on to anyone else what was about to happen,” said Armstrong.
Well used to high pressure situations, Armstrong maintained his composure and advised his staff to do the same.
“I told them to relax and do what you always do, treat them like our other guests and give them our famous Irish hospitality.
“We always try to be extremely sensitive to the needs of our guests, they want their privacy, but at the same time it was hard one to keep a lid on this one!”
Upon arrival Armstrong greeted the Obamas before they were seated among other guests in the main dining area.
After the White House released a statement saying the Obamas were dining in the well-known Alexandria eatery, the restaurant tweeted about the presence of the special couple: “Love people who have great palates and dine with us... especially uh... THE PRESIDENT AND HIS BEAUTIFUL WIFE!!!”
Sitting among other patrons on a Saturday night, the Obamas did not create too much of a stir.
“When the president of the U.S. is sitting in the dining room, I know everyone will go home and say to their friends, ‘Wait until I tell you who was in the restaurant tonight,’” Armstrong said.
“Everyone was well-behaved and they were able to enjoy their meal.”
Unfortunately, the restaurant is unable to reveal what the Obamas ordered off their Saturday night menu, but Armstrong did mention on Twitter that they have “excellent palates.”
The couple sat and soaked up the warm autumnal tones of Restaurant Eve for two hours before they thanked Armstrong upon their departure.
“They said they thoroughly enjoyed the meal and Michelle Obama asked if she could see my garden on another occasion,” he told the Irish Voice.
A father of two, Armstrong remains committed to maintaining culinary excellence in all areas of life and has founded Chefs as Parents. He has worked alongside Michelle Obama on the initiative, a non-profit company that will partner with The Alexandria public school system to improving the school lunch system. For his exhaustive efforts, the White House has honored him as a “Champion of Change.”
On Tuesday morning, Armstrong addressed the Senate Joint Committee on tourism where he said that where people eat on vacation is becoming just as important as the museums and historic sites they visit.