A Cookout for the Troops
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, honored wounded troops with a cookout at their home — and they asked Sunny to help plan the menu.
The Bidens' Home
The picnic took place at One Observatory Circle, the vice president's residence — probably the most heavily guarded home in America after the White House.
A Crowd of Heroes
The idea for the cookout came about after the Bidens visited a group of veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center—and casually mentioned hosting a party at their place. Not only did they come through with the invitation, they did the troops one better and asked Food Network star Sunny Anderson, an Air Force veteran, to help plan the meal.
Just Like Family
The party felt like a big family cookout: Guests had hours to talk to Sunny, the vice president and Dr. Biden. Army Captain Dan Berschinski (above, with Sunny and his girlfriend, Rebecca) was wounded in Afghanistan and met the Bidens at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
An Emotional Invitation
Sunny couldn't stop crying when she got the call from the vice president's office; cooking for war veterans means more to her than just about anything. "When you're raised in a military family and you see up close how war affects everyone, you learn what it really is to be an American," she said. "Veterans hold a very special place in my heart."
The Andersons: A Military Family
The Bidens also invited Sunny’s uncle, Army Major General Rodney Anderson, who is serving at the Pentagon. He was proud to see his niece in action. “She has so much passion for what she does,” he said. Sunny, an air force veteran, is military through and through: Her father is also a retired army colonel and Vietnam veteran.
A Collaborative Feast
This party was the first time the Bidens have served some of their favorite recipes along with another chef's: Guests got to try the vice president's grilled pizza and heirloom-tomato pasta salad (made by Navy chefs) along with Sunny's pulled-pork sandwiches, beet and sweet potato chips and berry trifle. "I've learned to keep it simple," Sunny said. She wanted to make the food easy so she'd have time to talk to the troops. "To meet people who are helping protect our country means so much to me," she said. "Whether you are for or against war, you have to honor someone who will go off and fight for us."
The Bidens' Sweet-and-Spicy Pecans
Guests snacked on the Bidens' sweet-and-spicy nuts before their meal.
Get the Recipe: Sweet-and-Spicy Pecans
Sunny's Vegetable Chips With Blue-Cheese Chips
Guests also enjoyed Sunny's vegetable chips and blue-cheese dip while they chatted.
Get the Recipe: Vegetable Chips with Blue-Cheese Dip
Sunny's Pulled-Pork Sandwiches
To turn out moist, flavorful meat for her famous sandwiches, Sunny cooks the pork at a low temperature for several hours.
Get the Recipe: Pulled-Pork Sandwiches
The Bidens' Pasta Caprese
Navy chefs whipped up this Pasta Caprese salad using mixed heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.
Get the Recipe: Pasta Caprese
The Bidens' Grilled Pizzas
Everyone loves pizza! The Bidens' grilled version is a great choice for a picnic: It's low-maintenance, quick and hand-held.
Get the Recipe: Grilled Pizzas
Sunny's Sweet Minted Tea
Sunny gives her sweet tea a twist with a simple mint syrup.
Get the Recipe: Sweet Minted Tea
Sunny's Patriotic Berry Trifle
This red-white-and-blue dessert comes together quickly and is the perfect way to showcase summer berries.
Get the Recipe: Patriotic Berry Trifle