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Bardia on Cooking for the President

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

“One day back in the 90’s, it was about 2 o’clock on a beautiful summer day and these two gentlemen walked into my restaurant. I knew they were not ordinary people. They asked, ‘Who is Bardia?’ I joked and said, who wants to know. They said, ‘The President’. I was shocked.

I guess President Clinton liked southern cooking and came to enjoy my food.

“They handed me an envelope and said, ‘thank you.’ I immediately opened it and found signed pictures from President Clinton. He thanked me because I had been making and delivering food to the White House for many years. I make food from my home….well, Tehran is actually my home, but New Orleans is my other home. When I was 18, I left Iran to study at Louisiana State University. While I majored in engineering, I also learned to cook Cajun food from the masters in New Orleans during my summers. I guess President Clinton liked southern cooking and came to enjoy my food.

“I remember how proud I was to get those photos. I went home and framed them and showed them to my wife and children. My kids were so excited to take the picture to school and show all of their classmates how the president wrote their Dad.

“When President Obama was elected, I wrote him a letter to wish him well. I told him that after he settled into the White House, he should bring his children to have beignets at my place for free. After seven months, he answered my letter. Now, my children are older, but they are still proud of their father who gets letters from the presidents.

“While I am so proud to say that I cooked for a president, to me, my biggest success is that I created this restaurant out of my passion for people and food. You can’t please everybody, but since opening in 1992, I think I have done a pretty good job for my neighbors and my community. While it is a wonderful service to be able to make someone’s hunger go away, I hope to be remembered because I cooked with all of my heart. That’s what I would like to be remembered for when I kick the bucket and I am gone.”

Bardia’s New Orleans Cafe, home of the best beignets in the city, is located at 2412 18th St NW.

People’s District will be taking a short break until July 18th. Until then, we share with you some of our favorite stories from the past year.

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