Fifty feet away, Ron Paul devotees heft signs, mop sweat and wave at the slowed traffic on Meridian. But inside the Huffington Post's Oasis on Tuesday afternoon, convention-goers recharge, sign up for a massage and sip pale green avocado banana smoothies constructed by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Arianna Huffington makes hers last, sipping discreetly as she and Samuelsson take their stools for a video interview about Samuelsson's new memoir, Yes, Chef, the wrong-headedness of corn subsidies and the importance of, as Samuelsson says, "eating with a moral compass."
With about a dozen people in the audience at the temporary haven erected inside Channelside's Aja nightclub, the pair fall into the easy back and forth of old friends. In fact, they've been Twitter buddies, and Samuelsson has written for the Huffington Post in the past, but their mutual regard extends further, to a shared belief in, as Huffington explains, "reducing stress in our lives and creating balance."
"We have to start looking at eating and cooking with a different lens," said the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef and owner of Red Rooster Harlem. He went on to discuss portion control, finding new sources of protein and engaging more earnestly in the fight against obesity. His choice to appear at the RNC was hardly partisan — he goes next week to the DNC in Charlotte, N.C., and he cooked at the White House for the Obamas' first state dinner. And as he noted, "Food is an American issue, everything is not an 'R' or a 'D'. "
When the chef glibly said, "You'd be a great chef, Arianna," the syndicated columnist and author harrumphed, saying only, "You've never had my food. It's disgusting."