Rozanne Gold, author and four-time winner of the James Beard Award, has written a wonderful remembrance of her tenure making meals and becoming friends with the late New York City Mayor Ed Koch back when he lived in Gracie Mansion. Here’s an aperitif:
I was 24 when I moved into Gracie Mansion as executive chef for Ed Koch. My boss-to-be had just become the mayor of New York City. Previously, I had done a cooking stint with former Mayor Robert Wagner at his law firm and it was he who recommended me to Ed. The new mayor, with no wife in sight, would no doubt need someone to prepare his meals and entertain his special guests. In that capacity I lived in the basement of the big white house and woke up at 5 a.m. every day to squeeze Hizzoner’s grapefruit juice and sometimes scramble a few eggs. I spent the rest of the day shopping, prepping and cooking dinner.
Sometimes I prepared an intimate meal for the mayor and a handful of colleagues; other times I organized a big bash for political cronies, prepared for the arrival of President Jimmy Carter (I made a peanut cheesecake and put it next to his bed), or helped blowtorch the kitchen to kasher it for Prime Minister Menachem Begin and his Israeli entourage around the time of the Camp David peace agreements.