Celeb tidbits

kpurvis@charlotteobserver.comSeptember 4, 2012 

— What is New York chef Marcus Samuelsson doing at a political convention? It’s actually not that far-fetched: He was the guest chef for the first White House State dinner, and he certainly has worked with first lady Michelle Obama’s various chef initiatives for healthful food.

This time, he said his “platform” was what he calls “bright food”: Eating intentionally, and paying attention to what you eat and where you get it.

Samuelsson was in town as a guest of Arianna Huffington. He blogs on her website, the Huffington Post. Huffington’s Oasis is a rest-and-relaxation post that has taken over the Flex + Fit facility at Stonewall and Church streets.

One great moment: When Huffington, with her purring accent, asked him, “Can you make seafood yummy?” He assured her he could.

Afterward, we asked which Southern food he loves to eat. “I love the greens,” he said. “Collards, turnip greens, okra. Without that, without the Southern greens, we wouldn’t have so many greens in our American cuisine.”

Then he asked a question of his own: Where should he eat last night? We suggested Mert’s Heart and Soul. Did he take our advice? Let us know.

I’ll rub your back

Also at the Huffington Post Oasis, we heard Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa showed up Tuesday afternoon and got an hour-long table massage. He’s earned it: He’s chair of the DNC.

VMAs show respect?

Reports several weeks ago claimed Charlotte could blame MTV’s Video Music Awards for the difficulty getting performers for big events during the DNC. The big-name acts apparently didn’t want to miss performing at the awards. But according to POLITICO, MTV execs have said President Barack Obama will get center stage for his speech Thursday night.

Podestas party at the Mint

The New York Times reported Tuesday on a party at Mint Museum Uptown, given by superlobbyists Tony and Heather Podesta of Washington for corporate lobbyists and political friends.

Executives from Blue Shield, Wal-Mart and Novo Nordisk ate bite-sized biscuit and country ham sandwiches, deviled eggs with pickled okra, duck and corn quesadillas and bourbon molasses truffles.

The Podestas have been planning the brunch for a year; they sampled fare from 30 Charlotte restaurants before deciding on the menu.

Trivia at Ri Ra

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post’s blog The Fix prepared to lead a boisterous, beer-drinking crowd Tuesday through a trivia game at Ri Ra on North Tryon Street.

He started the game in Washington and has taken it on the road to Tampa and Charlotte. At the Iowa caucuses, the governor and lieutenant governor came. His aim: “The idea was to take people who are into politics offline. Don’t be so serious. Politics can be fun.”

4/5ths of the ‘Fierce Five’

Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber, four of the five members of the Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. gymnastics team, are scheduled to attend a luncheon Wednesday on children’s health at the Foundation for the Carolinas uptown.

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