It’s Memorial Day weekend, the time when we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as those who put their lives on the line every day in the Armed Forces.
For years, James Mattis was one of those military individuals. He worked his way up to the rank of general, and hardly the easy way. While his main job these day may be behind a desk in the Pentagon as the secretary of defense, he hasn’t lost touch with the folks who serve — and he kicked off the weekend by serving them.
According to a tweet from Dana White — the assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs at the Pentagon — Mattis began the weekend in the kitchen. The White House kitchen.
#SecDef Mattis joined staff in serving breakfast at the @WhiteHouse mess yesterday. pic.twitter.com/tyn5JsYgVS
— Dana W. White – DoD (@ChiefPentSpox) May 26, 2018
As anyone who’s read all of Christopher Buckley’s books will tell you (and I’m sure I’m speaking to everyone here), the White House mess is actually the cafeteria at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And it’s not exactly run by Aramark.
“Although the president has his own dining room next to the Oval Office, the West Wing ground floor contains a restaurant run by the U.S. Navy and therefore referred to in military terms as a ‘mess hall,’” the White House Museum’s website reads.
“This encompasses the Ward Room — a navy term that refers to an officers’ dining room.”
There’s a reason for this, as Thrillist notes.
“With a strictness rivaled only by movie theaters, you’re not allowed to take outside food into the White House,” the site reports. “When visiting chefs cook there, they can’t bring pre-prepared sauces, as all ingredients must be obtained by the kitchen staff through secret and secure sources.”
Of course, this means the servers and chefs in the White House mess are also members of the military. They just usually aren’t the secretary of defense.
Then again, this isn’t your usual SecDef. How many of them earned the nickname “Mad Dog?” (although he apparently prefers “Chaos,” which was his actual call sign). How many of them do their own laundry in the Pentagon basement, too?
Needless to say, Mattis’ appearance in the White House mess made quite an impression on those who were there — including one rather familiar customer.
I was one of the lucky ones to see him yesterday morning! He assured me they hadn’t let him help cook. Such a great surprise to start the morning with Sec. Mattis. https://t.co/19VG7uZEpx
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) May 26, 2018
I think Sanders is being a bit pessimistic about his culinary skills. With everything else the guy does, do you think that he couldn’t make a mean omelette?
After all, we’ve all seen the chaos that goes on in the average restaurant kitchen. Why not leave it to a guy who was literally called “Chaos?”
Either way, it was a classy move by Mattis, and one that proves that even though he may be at the top of the military chain, he still knows what it means to serve.