Gourmet grub and souvenir snap for Gates' VIP guests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 April, 2006, 12:00am

Guests attending the dinner on Tuesday for President Hu Jintao at the Seattle home of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates not only got a taste of the delicacies prepared by the billionaire's personal chef but also a photograph with the president to take home as a souvenir.

Each of the 100 business, community and political leaders at the gathering queued to shake hands with Mr Hu and chatted briefly with him before having their picture taken.

Among the guests was Nobel prize winner Lee Hartwell, president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, who said Mr Hu 'seemed very personable, very confident and open to opportunities'.

Mr Gates started off the dinner with a welcome speech and was followed by former Washington state governor Gary Locke and the present governor, Christine Gregoire.

Mr Hu was the last to speak and talked about China's trade relations with Washington state and China's shared goals with the US.

Before the dinner, Mr Gates gave Mr Hu a tour of his home.

Mr Hu sat next to Mr Gates and Ms Gregoire during the dinner, a three-course meal of smoked guinea fowl salad, a choice of beef filet with Walla Walla onions or Alaskan halibut and spot prawns, before a dessert of rhubarb brown butter almond cake.

Others at the head table included State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan and Mr Hu's wife, Liu Yongqing .

Local politicians, including Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, also attended the event.

But, according to a local television station, one politician, King County executive Ron Sims, turned down the invitation because he wanted to spend time with his wife.

If Mr Hu was hoping for some fried rice at a lunch hosted by Mr Locke, a Chinese-American, he might be disappointed. The caterers, Fairmont Olympic Hotel, have prepared a menu for a three-course lunch at the Future of Flight museum.

The starter will consist of fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. The main course will be Washington state free-range honey-glazed breast of chicken, farrow grain with roasted eggplant and Mediterranean olive salad. This will be followed by a Meyer lemon tart.