Tuesday, July 11, 1961
Party at Mount Vernon
JFK hosted a dinner party at Mount Vernon for Mohammed Ayub Khan, the President of Pakistan. The idea to hold the party outside of the White House was inspired by a dinner given by in their honor by French President and Madame de Gaulle in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
JFK and Jackie personally greeted Khan and his daughter, the Begum Nasir Aurangzeb at Andrews Air Force Base and later that evening attended the dinner which was held outside on the back lawn that overlooked the banks of the Potomac River.
The dinner was prepared in the White House kitchen by head Chef Rene Verdon and transported to Mount Vernon in Army field kitchens. The menu included avocado and crabmeat mimosa appetizer, followed by poulet chasseur and couronne de riz clamart. Desert was petit-fours ecs and framboises a la creme chantilly. Wine served between courses was a haut-brion blanc (1958) and moet et chandon imperial brut (1955).
Guests were transported from Washington, D.C. by boat, including the Honey Fitz and two boats provided by the US Navy. Music and aperitifs were provided on the one hour cruise down the Potomac. The guests were greeted by roops from the Colonial Color Guard and the Fife and Drum Corps who were dressed in Revolutionary War period uniforms.
Dinner was served under a marquee set up to the left of the terrace. High-end display professionals were brought in from New York to design the lighting and decoration. Gene Moore and Daniel Arje (display directors of Tiffany’s and Bonwit Teller) hung chandeliers garlanded with flowers and used smilax to decorate the guy ropes.
JFk quoted George Washington during his toast:
I would rather be at Mount Vernon, with a friend or two about me, than be attended at the seat of government by the officers of state and the representatives of every power in Europe.
Guests included Attorney General Robert Kennedy who arrived with General Maxwell D. Taylor.
After dinner entertainment was provided by the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lloyd Geisler.