Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Sam Kass, the Chicago-Born White House Chef, Is One of D.C.’s Most Beautiful People

The Lab School grad came in third in The Hill’s annual ranking of the 50 most beautiful people on Capitol Hill.

Sam Kass White House chef
Sam Kass in the White House kitchen garden  Photo: Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune

So here we go again. The Hill, which covers politics and policy in Washington thoroughly and seriously, lets itself go once a year to select the 50 most beautiful people working on and around Capitol Hill. On this 10th anniversary of the list, for the first time, people working in the executive branch, including the White House, were eligible.

Illinois managed one celebrity from Chicago and two worker bees from outside the city. Only the first 10 are ranked, presumably in terms of physical beauty, and the remaining 40 are listed in no particular order.

Now that White House employees can make the list, it’s no surprise to see Hyde Parker and Lab School grad Sam Kass come in at number three. Kass, 33, who was once the Obamas’ private chef in the years before they came to Washington, carries the title of White House Chef, and he’s the executive director of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program. 

The White House garden, the scene of so many photo-ops, was, in part, planted by Kass, who tells Hill reporter Emily Goodin that his “relationship status” is “private,” his guilty pleasure, food-wise,  is “a good buffalo wing,” and that he exercises in what little free time he has. He also notes that he is now a “dual” fan of the Chicago White Sox and the Washington Nationals. (Probably a hint that he sees his future in Washington.)

Massed in the lower 40 is Kyle Simpson, 27, from Hillsdale (population 523) in Rock Island County. He attended the University of Illinois at Springfield and offers up his relationship status as “single.” He works as a special assistant to Missouri Democratic senator Claire McCaskill. 

Also in the latter category is Cayley Tullman, 23, from Wilmette, a graduate of the University of Southern California, also “single,” who boasts that she manages her complex life by sleeping only six to seven hours a night (which sounds like a lot of sleep to me). She works as a technology consultant for a firm called PDG Consulting and a strategist for the Veteran Support Fund. An ice hockey player in college, she attributes her good health to, as Hill reporter Talia Mindic writes, following a “paleo diet, meant to mimic the no-grain, no-dairy diet of ancient humans.”

The Hill’s rules preclude Washington’s beauties from appearing more than once in a lifetime. No mention is made of formerly beautiful people who are now criminally convicted and awaiting sentencing. In 2010, the first time I looked at the list, Jesse Jackson Jr. made the coveted top 10 at number 9. His “svelte 175-pound figure” was highlighted, as was Jackson’s quip, “What’s next? GQ?”  Not exactly. 

At the time, Jackson told Hill reporter Kris Kitto, referring to Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now, that “the past is gone…live in the moment.” Probably not the best advice for the man who spent campaign funds to buy himself a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex, plus four mink capes and parkas, among other “in the moment” luxuries.

(Disclosure: I contribute to The Hill’s Pundits Blog.)

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