Tempers sometimes flare at the White House. But never during dessert. For 25 years, pastry chef Roland Mesnier anticipated the cravings of commanders-in-chief and visiting dignitaries alike. "I watched the news every day," Mesnier says, "and created pastries to cater to the mood. When the rescue mission in Iran failed, I made President Carter a homey brioche pudding." Mesnier's term has come to an end—he just retired—but his cookbook Dessert University (Simon & Schuster, $40) includes over 300 of his Oval Office-approved treats. "It's the only book endorsed by five First Ladies," Mesnier says. His biggest challenge?President Clinton's allergies to chocolate, dairy, and flour. "I always prepared a carrot cake for him, but one night he went straight for the chocolate cake. I said, 'Mr. President, that is not yours,' and he said, 'Says who?' How could I argue with the president?"
—Hillary Geronemus