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White House

Obamas to Honor ‘Italy’s Justin Trudeau’ at Final State Dinner: 5 Things to Know About the Star-Studded Evening

Updated

Susan Walsh/AP

The Obamas will host Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the White House on Tuesday night for the first family’s final State Dinner.

And what a dinner it will be — with a three-course meal prepared by celebrity chef Mario Batali and a performance from three-time Grammy award winner Gwen Stefani.

From the guests to the menu to the music, here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday night’s formal affair.

1. Stefani will perform after dinner — and you can watch. 

First Lady Michelle Obama revealed last week on Snapchat that Stefani, whose father is of Italian descent, will provide the entertainment for the evening. You don’t have to be a world leader to listen in on the performance — the general public can watch Stefani sing live on Tuesday at WH.gov/live.

As guests enter the White House, they will also be treated to an acapella performance by students from Rosie’s Theater Kids, the nonprofit arts education organization founded by Rosie O’Donnell.

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

2. Guest Chef Mario Batali is incorporating the first lady’s favorite foods into the menu. 

At a preview of the dinner, Batali revealed that the first lady personally approved the State Dinner menu, which will include fresh vegetables and herbs from her White House Kitchen Garden.

Batali also noted that the first lady’s fondness for sweet potatoes inspired the first course — sweet potato agnolotti with butter and sage — and her love of steak led him to choose beef braciole as the main course. A warm butternut squash salad will also be served, as well as a green apple crostata with thyme caramel and buttermilk gelato for dessert. Check out the full menu here.

Although Batali had the president and first lady in mind when he planned the meal, he told CBS News correspondent Chip Reid that when it comes to the pasta dish, he’s more worried about the Obamas’ Italian guests.

“You know, you generally don’t worry that much about Americans when you’re cooking pasta, you worry about the Italians,” Batali said.
“So Prime Minister Renzi is the guy that I’m probably going to watch their plates a little more closely.”

3. The décor will also be inspired by Italy. 

The White House is pulling out all the stops for the evening’s décor, which is inspired by the Italian design technique fresco, meaning “fresh.” The dinner will take place on the White House South Lawn in a tent that will be decorated with elaborate chandeliers, handmade glassware and mirrors reflecting the candlelight on the table and the floral arrangements, the White House said.

Sipa USA
Sipa USA

4. The guest of honor, Prime Minister Renzi, has been called “the Justin Trudeau of Italy.”

Not only that, but like Obama, Renzi also has a bromance with the charismatic Canadian prime minister, according to The Washington Post.

If the Trudeau connection doesn’t sell you on Renzi’s cool factor, here are a few more tidbits: the prime minister is also known for his Twitter savvy, his signature leather jackets and his soccer knowledge.

At 41, Renzi is also the youngest prime minister of Italy since it became a unified nation in 1861. He will be attending Tuesday’s State Dinner with his wife, Agnese Landini, with whom he has three children: sons Francesco and Emanuele and daughter Ester.

5. Renzi and Obama also share a close relationship. 

Obama called Renzi “a leading voice in Europe” after meeting with the prime minister at the White House last year. “I have been very impressed with the energy and the vision and the reforms that he is pursuing to unleash the potential of the Italian people and the Italian economy,” he said at the time, according to The Washington Post

And according to the Chicago Tribune, the White House has said the two leaders share similar ideological beliefs, most notably a commitment to a united Europe.