Barack Obama in 2001: State Senator, Restaurant Critic
The future president is predictably diplomatic—even while discussing catfish and cornbread.
On August 14, 2001, the future president of the United States, then an Illinois state senator representing Chicago's South Side, made a guest appearance on the local restaurant review show Check, Please!
Barack Obama joined Check, Please!'s (literal) round table to recommend the Hyde Park restaurant Dixie Kitchen—where, as he put it, "the prices are right, and the portions are good."
The video of the episode, unearthed by the redditor awkmom, is a great reminder not only that cornbread is delicious, but also that the road to the presidency is a long one: Even while discussing catfish and cole slaw, the future world leader—"Barack," they call him on the show—is diplomatic. ("I ordered the Southern sampler," Obama confides to the group, "just because I couldn't make up my mind.")
He is also pragmatic. "People feel comfortable going there," he says of Dixie Kitchen. "They take their families there, you know that you're going to get a good value for your money."
He is also relatable. "It's not gourmet cuisine, but that's not why I go to Dixie Kitchen," Obama says. He's not looking for something "fancy," with "incredibly subtle flavor." Instead, "what I'm looking for is food that tastes good for a good price."
He is also empathetic, and family-oriented. "We have two," he said of the taking-kids-to-restaurants experience. "I can imagine families with five or six kids, boy, I'm going to look at that menu pretty carefully."
He is also a friend of the American entrepreneur—particularly the entrepreneurs he represents. "You can do some good business out on the South Side of Chicago," Obama points out. "And I like to see that, since it's my district. I want to see our small business owners succeeding out there."
Even the basket of johnnycakes Dixie Kitchen serves at the beginning of each meal offer Obama a lesson he has carried with him into his presidency. "I've learned from some past mistakes," the diplomatic diner says, "that I've got to be cautious."