Sweet Sorrow at the White House

Laura Bush with Pastry Chef Thaddeus DuBois
Pastry Chef Thaddeus DuBois is bidding the White House goodbye as he heads for an executive chef position at the new Echelon Place in Las Vegas. (Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Thaddeus DuBois just landed himself one sweet deal. The White House executive pastry chef is leaving after just 18 months for the greener pastures of casino chocolate chips. DuBois, who came from the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, will become the executive chef at Boyd Gaming Corp.'s new hotel in Las Vegas.

The first lady hired DuBois in September of 2004, following the retirement of Roland Mesnier , who held the job for 25 years. The grad of Gaithersburg's International School of Confectionary Arts was responsible for creating thousands of desserts for everyone with a presidential sweet tooth. The conditions are less than ideal -- DuBois had just one assistant, a tiny kitchen, and very long days -- but said yesterday, "I had a fantastic time here serving the president and first lady." Laura Bush is "very disappointed" to lose him, said spokeswoman Susan Whitson.

The master chocolatier, 42, was approached by his old employer to work at Echelon Place, the luxury hotel being built on the site of the Strip's Stardust Hotel. Sure, he'll make more than his White House salary (in the $90K-$110K range), but the real reason for leaving, he said, is "the ability, down the road, to have my own pastry or chocolate place in the hotel."

DuBois will remain at the White House for another two weeks, then head back to the Borgata until the new hotel opens in about 18 months.

The Prez, Caught Entering a Spin Zone

Bush Prepares to Mountain Bike
Photographers take advantage of their driver's mistake and snap President Bush as he gears up for a bike ride Sunday.(Mannie Garcia - Reuters)
Presidents -- they're just like us! The POTUS bike ride is usually off-limits for the press corps that follows Bush around. But on Sunday, the driver of a press van accidentally went straight to the spot where Bush was gearing up for a ride in the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge -- enabling a few photogs to go all paparazzi on the prez. As they snapped shots of him in a biking shirt, shorts and pink-and-blue socks, Bush looked startled but waved; the press was quickly ushered away.

A French Toast for a Good Egg

Art Buchwald first made his name as an American humorist in Paris, where he spent 14 years describing the peculiarities of French life to a stateside audience. Turns out the French have had a sense of humor all these years! On Friday, Ambassador Jean-David Levitte visited the columnist at the D.C. hospice center where he's been residing the past several weeks to present him with the highest grade of the nation's Order of Arts and Letters. Only about 20 people a year receive the honor at the "commandeur " level. Levitte left Buchwald with a mini lapel-pin version; the big round-the-neck badge will arrive soon. We asked the columnist how he feels, and he couldn't help but exult: "I am a commander!"

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

· Travis Stork , the eligible-again star of the "The Bachelor," drinking beer and getting mobbed by women on the deck of U Street's Local 16 on Saturday night while visiting buddies from his Arlington days. Very friendly, looking "fratastic" yet thinner than on TV.

· Clintons everywhere! Hillary and Bill hiking Saturday morning in Rock Creek Park, a Secret Service detail trailing by 20 yards . . . then dining that night at downtown's Rasika with Terry and Doroth y McAuliffe , while Chelsea ate with seven friends at a separate table . . . before she hit the Sunday matinee of "Don Juan" at the Shakespeare Theatre with beau Marc Mezvinsky and two other guys.

· Defense Secretary James Heller -- er, "24" actor William Devane -- at Saturday's Gridiron dinner, filling the vacuum left by absent Don Rumsfeld . Confirmed that he'll appear on a trio of episodes next month but wouldn't say if he gets tortured or killed.

· George Stephanopoulos , walking down Wisconsin in Glover Park Friday morning in shorts, T-shirt, socks . . . and no shoes? George ! Turns out he was on the way to the gym and had left his running shoes in his locker.

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