Barack and Michelle Obama
04/09/2009 at 06:50 PM EDT
Chris Sommers, owner of a pizza place in St. Louis, gets orders from all over town. But from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C.?
"It's surreal, it's a huge honor," says Sommers, 33, who flew to the nation's capital Thursday to make 20 pizzas for the Obama family and staff.
So how did a St. Louis pizza guy end up in the White House kitchen?
The president first tasted Sommers's San Francisco-style pies, served at his St. Louis restaurant Pi, while campaigning in Missouri last fall. An Obama supporter, Sommers offered to deliver a few frozen pies to the president after the election but was told he couldn't send food to the White House because of security concerns.
Instead, Reggie Love, one of the president's closest aides and a fellow fan of Sommers's deep-dish and thin-crust creations, arranged to have the pizza chef bring 20 pounds of dough and 3 gallons of sauce at Sommers's expense to the White House kitchen and cook there Friday.
"It will be casual lunch," says Sommers, who will be helped by Pi chef Ryan Mangialardo, 27, and Anne Schuermann, 24, Sommers' girlfriend. "Hopefully we'll have a chance to say hello to the president."