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Obama to Celebrate with 500-pound Eli's Cheesecake

By Heather Cherone | January 21, 2013 4:55pm

DUNNING — The final inaugural ball of President Barack Obama’s career will be topped off by a gigantic dessert that is sure to remind him of sweet home Chicago.

Bakers at Eli’s Cheesecake on the Northwest Side spent the last week creating a 500-pound cheesecake to be served at the Staff Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center Tuesday evening.

Decorated with gold stars, a blue presidential eagle and the inaugural seal, the top of the white cake is a hand-made, painstakingly-detailed replica of the Capitol dome. The cake alternates between layers of original cheesecake and chocolate chip.

“It’s just fun,” said Eli’s Executive Pastry Chef Laurel Bolger, who designed the cake. “It is exciting to be part of the inauguration and we’re honored to be able to honor the president and his staff.”

With the help of nearly a dozen other bakers and Eli’s employees, Bolger decorated and assembled the cake’s layers — all under the watchful eye of two inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration to make sure it was fit for the president and First Lady to eat.

“It's a thrill,” said company President Marc Schulman, whose father Eli founded the company in 1980. “We’re so happy to have this opportunity to serve the president. It is extremely gratifying.”

As Bolger worked, Eli’s employees — many wearing red, white and blue top hats and leis — gathered to admire the cake, and wished Obama well during his second term in office.

The Staff Inaugural Ball honors the White House staff as well as presidential campaign workers. Lady Gaga is scheduled to perform.

By the time the music stops, more than 6,000 people will have sampled the cheesecake — and Eli’s will have several other cheesecakes of different flavors on hand to make sure no one goes home hungry. 

Based on the cake’s ingredients, that seems unlikely. In addition to 100 pounds of buttercream frosting, bakers used 155 pounds of cream cheese, 50 pounds of butter, 40 pounds of sour cream, 20 pounds of flour, 15 pounds of chocolate chips, 50 pounds of powdered sugar, 240 eggs and two cups of pure vanilla.

Bolger will drive the cake to Washington, D.C., in a refrigerated truck. Along with Schulman, she will put the finishing touches on the cake Tuesday morning at the convention center.

This isn’t the first time Eli’s Cheesecake has been served at an inaugural ball. At the 2009 Commander in Chief’s Ball, guests celebrated with an original plain cheesecake. In 1993 and 1997, President Clinton also served Eli’s — a nod to former First Lady Hillary Clinton’s roots near the Northwest Side in Park Ridge.