POCANTICO HILLS, N.Y. — Setting aside for a few hours the pressures of trying to calm the world’s trouble spots, President Barack Obama assumed the role of spectator for something more joyous: the wedding of the first family’s longtime chef and friend.
Chef Sam Kass and MSNBC host Alex Wagner tied the knot Saturday at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a farm-to-table restaurant in Pocantico Hills, just north of New York City.
The president and his chef have a close relationship, which Obama highlighted earlier this month when he spent several hours at dinner at Kass’ apartment amid the turmoil in Iraq, Ukraine and Ferguson, Missouri.
It’s long been said that time is a president’s most precious commodity. That Obama would spend five hours at Kass’ home on one of the aide’s final evenings as a bachelor was a testament to their bond.
Obama’s rounds of golf are often his only other outings that last as long — and those games sometimes include Kass.
Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, attended the ceremony and reception at the restaurant, which is a favorite of both Kass and Mrs. Obama. The first lady hosted the spouses of world leaders there in 2010.
Obama wore a dark suit, and Mrs. Obama and their daughters each wore sleeveless black dresses. The first family spent about six hours at the wedding. Obama had no known role, other than to give his best to the bride and groom. The Obamas returned to the White House early Sunday.
The union of Kass, 34, and Wagner, 36, also served to highlight what some contend is too much togetherness between the media and the people they report on. Naturally, the guest list was expected to include staff from both the White House and the liberal-leaning cable news outlet, with people from both sides breaking bread at the same dinner table.
Kass began preparing meals for the Obamas when the family lived in Chicago and the Obamas persuaded him to join them at the White House. He is now among the Obamas’ longest-serving aides.
Besides cooking for the family most weeknights, Kass also serves as senior nutrition policy adviser and executive director of the first lady’s anti-childhood obesity initiative.
It’s not unusual for presidents, including Obama, to attend or participate in weddings.
Obama hosted a Rose Garden wedding last October for Pete Souza, the president’s chief official photographer.
In June 2012, Obama, his wife, daughters and mother-in-law attended the Chicago wedding of the daughter of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
In May 2008, George W. Bush was in office when his daughter, Jenna, married at the family ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Bill Clinton was best man for his brother, Roger, in March 1994.
Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, participated in the August 1984 wedding of their daughter Patti Davis. Reagan spoke one line in the ceremony. He responded “Her mother and I do” when asked who would give away the bride.
DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press
Associated Press news researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York contributed to this report.