Sam Kass serves as Assistant White House Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator at the White House. A Chicago native, Kass graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in US History. During college, he took a job cooking at the restaurant 312 Chicago under Chef Dean Zanella, an experience that set him on his current path. While finishing his final college year abroad in 2003, Kass was trained by one of Austria’s greatest chefs, Christian Domschitz in Vienna.
Kass then continued his culinary education around the globe including New Zealand, Italy and Mexico, before returning to work at Avec in 2006, one of Chicago’s most acclaimed restaurants. Under the guidance of Chef/Owner Paul Kahan and Executive Chef Koren Greiveson, Kass continued to learn techniques of seasonal cooking. Through his experience as a chef and education in the field, Kass' interest in the origins of the food he was cooking grew as did his attention to sustainable and nutritious ingredients. In 2007, Kass opened the personal chef company Inevitable Table, which focused on healthful and nurturing food and that served clientele throughout Chicago.
In January 2009, Kass joined the White House Kitchen staff under Executive Chef Cris Comerford’s leadership as assistant chef, where his responsibilities include preparing daily meals and assisting with larger functions. As White House Food Initiative Coordinator, Kass has continued his focus on sustainable and nutritious ingredients as he helped First Lady Michelle Obama create the first major vegetable garden at the White House since the 1890’s. To date the garden has yielded nearly 1000 pounds of produce that has been used to feed event guests, staff, and the First Family at the White House, with further harvests donated to local food shelters.
In line with the First Lady’s philosophy of using the garden as an educational tool for young people, Kass hosts groups of school children for tours of the garden. He guides the kids through rows of vegetables, talks about how easy it is to start a garden, and answers questions throughout their visit to the White House Kitchen Garden.
When he isn’t in the kitchen or working in the garden Kass is at his desk in the First Lady’s Policy Office where he helps further the First Lady’s work on curbing the spread of childhood obesity and promoting health and wellness activities. As part of this policy team, led by Policy Director Jocelyn Frye, Kass works closely with the Departments of Agriculture and Education as well as works with the White House Domestic Policy Council on these issues.