This president was perhaps the hardest to cook for

During John F. Kennedy’s brief tenure in the White House, he and his wife, Jackie, employed French-trained chef René Verdon to prepare fine meals for esteemed guests and he seemed happy to oblige, according to Le New York Times. But that all changed on Nov. 22, 1963, when JFK’s death placed his Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson, in the Oval Office and State Dining Room (via the White House). Suddenly, beef tenderloin au jus gave way to grilled ribs and crème brûlée became tapioca pudding. Verdon felt it was beneath him and retired in 1965.

Undaunted, Lady Bird Johnson chose Swiss-born New York hotel chef Henry Haller as Verdon’s successor, according to a 2010 interview with the Gerald R. Ford Foundation. Haller, however, was warned by FLOTUS itself that pleasing the president would not be easy. Indeed, that was not the case, Johnson quickly finding fault with Haller’s handling of the Florida beans – he had left the stringy stalks intact. Johnson’s response was to do it himself, then hand a handful of rods to Haller, with a warning: never again.

To his credit, Haller, who died in 2020 at the age of 97, had no problem with Johnson’s abruptness. “I mean, the president was right, but he was very polite, he called me ‘Mr. Haller,'” Haller said in the above interview. “He could have called me something else, you know.”