His belly full of Korean tacos on Tuesday afternoon, chef Adam Pechal announced he was in a hurry.
"Sorry guys, gotta go," he said. "I've got to get ready to feed Bill."
The "Bill" in question was former President Bill Clinton, who appeared Tuesday night at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium for a speech on current affairs. Pechal, the executive chef and co-owner of Sacramento's Tuli Bistro and Restaurant THIR13EN, had the job of feeding Clinton and the former president's staff before the appearance. He was referred for the job by organizers of the Sacramento Speakers Series, which hosted the event, and Pechal didn't know he'd be cooking for Clinton until the day before the appearance.
Pechal, who had to submit his social security number and other information for a background check, wasn't given many directives for feeding the former president. However, the meal had to be vegan, given that Clinton stopped eating meat and dairy following two heart surgeries a decade ago.
"Cooking vegan is not my forte, but I love a challenge," said Pechal. "This was a once in a lifetime thing."
Pechal (pictured above at Tuli Bistro in 2010) cooked primary from ingredients sourced from Feeding Crane Farms, an organic operation that's a short drive from downtown Sacramento. From that, he created two courses for Clinton and vegan appetizers for the former president's staff.
"Feeding Crane sent me a big box with all kinds of goodies," said Pechal. "That's where I do my best work. I get some amazing product and it all starts to happen."
The meals were delivered to Clinton and staff at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, and Pechal didn't get a chance for a photo opp. However, he is expected to receive a letter from Clinton thanking Pechal for the meal. Word from organizers was that Clinton "loved it."
"I wanted to hear that from the horse's mouth, but that totally made my night," said Pechal, who watched Clinton's speech. "I've got to feed the mayor a bunch of times, and fed Jerry Brown a little bit, but a president? I didn't see this one coming."
In other Pechal news, the chef is set to go national in January. He's one of the contestants on ABC's "The Taste," a cooking competition hosted by Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson. Think of it as the cooking equivalent of "The Voice" or "The X Factor." Look for the show to debut on Jan. 22 at 8 p.m., and we'll have much more on this soon.
Meanwhile, here's the full menu whipped up by Pechal on Tuesday.
MENU FOR CLINTON
* Tatsoi salad with Napa cabbage, almonds, red carrots and citrus-ginger dressing
* Housemade spinach pasta with golden cauliflower, roasted peppers, confited cippolini onions, arugula and toasted almonds
APPETIZERS FOR STAFF (vegan)
* Kale & parsnip chips
* Crostini with Tuscan white bean spread
* Roasted peppers
* Black radish chips
* Rainbow chard bundles filled with curried potatoes, turnips, mushrooms and leeks
* Fresno chilis stuffed with Burgess buttercup squash and roasted garlic