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Eat and Drink

Mario Batali prepares Obama's last state dinner (and lives out a White House dream)

Crocs are typically frowned-upon footwear for fancy dinners, but it seems the White House has made an exception.

Mario Batali -- the chef famous for his Food Network show, creating the Italian food mecca Eataly and, yes, wearing orange Crocs -- is cooking for President Barack Obama and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Tuesday night at a state dinner.

And if his Instagram feed is any indication, Batali is pretty psyched to be there. His hashtag for pictures from the kitchen is #wheeeeeestatedinner.

But Batali hasn't confined his visit merely to the White House's kitchen -- he's also hanging out with the first pets and shooting hoops. Wouldn't you if you had the chance?

A White House welcome

Any visit to the White House has to
Photo Credit: Mario Batali via Instagram

Any visit to the White House has to begin with a team photo for posterity, right?

Crocs on the court

Who wouldn't want to shoot some hoops on
Photo Credit: Mario Batali via Instagram

Who wouldn't want to shoot some hoops on the presidential basketball court? No word on whether President Obama and veep Joe Biden joined Batali for a pickup game.

#SquadGoals

The state dinner will serve a big crowd,
Photo Credit: Mario Batali via Instagram

The state dinner will serve a big crowd, so obviously Batali can't do it alone -- he's rolling with a big crew of sous chefs.

Bo and Sunny

Cooking is hard work, so Batali took a
Photo Credit: Mario Batali via Instagram

Cooking is hard work, so Batali took a little break to hang out with first dogs Bo and Sunny. "Presidential pooches bo and sunny are very cool!" he captioned this photo.

Sage wisdom

This sage will be part of a brown
Photo Credit: Mario Batali via Instagram

This sage will be part of a brown butter sauce that will adorn a first course of sweet potato agnolotti pasta. Agnolotti is a kind of stuffed pasta, or, as the official White House menu puts it in this case, "a velvety pillow of paper-thin pasta stuffed with a puree of sweet potatoes."

State dinner squash

Batali noted in his caption for this photo
Photo Credit: Mario Batali via Instagram

Batali noted in his caption for this photo that the team had assembled 1,400 "squash cubes of joy," seasoned with fennel pollen and pepper. That's likely a component in the second course, a warm butternut squash salad with frisee and pecorino cheese from New York.

Presidential braciole

Here's a glimpse of the main course: beef
Photo Credit: Mario Batali via Instagram

Here's a glimpse of the main course: beef braciole pinwheels with horseradish gremolata, served over broccoli rabe.

Man with a plan

Obviously, an event this complicated requires a plan.
Photo Credit: Mario Batali via Instagram

Obviously, an event this complicated requires a plan. Here's Batali's.

Batali's main dish

A look at the finished product for the
Photo Credit: Mario Batali via Instagram

A look at the finished product for the braciole -- an Italian dish that features thin slices of meat (in this case, beef), rolled around stuffing.

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