A Who’s Who at the US state dinner for the Morrisons

Greg Norman and his wife Kirsten arrive in the Bookseller's area of the White House on their way to the Rose Garden.

Greg Norman and his wife Kirsten arrive in the Bookseller's area of the White House on their way to the Rose Garden. Photo: Getty

Dining under the stars in the gardens of the White House in the company of billionaires and media barons – and a President of the United States – is something Scott Morrison is unlikely to forget.

As the dinner concluded and the 175 high profile dignitaries left the White House on Friday evening local time, President Donald Trump took to social media to thank his wife for designing the state dinner.

Mr Trump praised his “magnificient” First Lady Melania for pulling together an “exquisite” Rose Garden state dinner in honour of Mr Morrison and his wife Jenny.

“I want to express my gratitude to America’s magnificent #FLOTUS for tonight’s exquisite evening where we celebrated more than a century of loyal and devoted friendship.

“Both of our nations are blessed by uncommon courage, unfailing commitment, and unyielding character!,” he wrote.

Golfing royalty Greg Norman, Lachlan Murdoch and Henry Kissinger were among the long list of high profile dignitaries at the opulent White House Australian-themed state dinner.


Celebrity chef Curtis Stone and his wife Lindsay. Photo: Getty

Guests, strategically seated at round and rectangular ornately decorated tables in an outdoor setting in the Rose Garden on a warm Washington Friday night (Saturday 10am AEST) included Curtis Stone, Kerry Stokes, Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest, Anthony Pratt and the 2018 Australian of the Year Michelle Simmons. They were among many Australians invited to attend only the second state dinner for a visiting Australian prime minister since John Howard in 2006.

It is also only the second state dinner US President Donald Trump has hosted during his three-year tenure in the White House. The first was French President Emmanuel Macron last year.

Scott and Jenny Morrison were greeted by Mr Trump and First Lady Melania with handshakes and kisses on the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the mansion after a day of discussions, a lunch hosted by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and media appearances.

The two couples walked slowly through the corridors of the White House to the Rose Garden to the tunes of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Chamber Orchestra.

Mr Morrison responded a short time later, complimenting one of the many military bands for a version of Waltzing Matilda, and saying his wife “Jen looked awesome” in a sequined full-length Carla Zampatti gown.

“Mrs Morrison has been a great supporter of Australian fashion, and I am most thrilled that she chose to wear my design at this stately event in addition to arriving in Washington in one of my signature jumpsuits,” Ms Zampatti said.

Mr Trump waxed lyrical in his toast to the dinner about the similarities between the two countries “born out of a vast wilderness” with a fierce self-reliance.

“It is this free and proud spirit that has always driven our people to imagine, to build, to achieve what others have never even dreamed possible,” he said.

The president ended his toast by quoting Mary Gilmore’s poem, No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest, and introducing her great-great-nephew, the prime minister.

“Well, you got me,” Mr Morrison said, smiling broadly.

“Dame Mary, my great-great-aunt, would be very, very proud.”

Close friend of Donald Trump’s, Greg Norman, said he wanted to get the president to Australia soon.

He also defended Mr Trump’s golfing habits, saying, “You can never play too much golf.”

The China settings were commissioned by Bill Clinton and George W Bush. Photo: AAP

Melania, wearing a pale green J Mendel gown with long sleeves and a pleated skirt, designed the Australian-themed state dinner, carefully selecting the decor and the extravagant menu.

Everything from the flowers (wattle) to the ravioli, sole and apple tart were “all carefully selected by the First Lady to reflect the strong ties between the United States and Australia”, according to a White House briefing.

Tables, covered in green and gold “linens”, were “illuminated” with gold oil lamps as “golden champagne grapes on top of the tables were said to highlight “the richness of each of the countries’ wine industries”. Gold woven baskets were full of Australia’s “national flower”, the wattle, and yellow and American varieties of yellow and white roses, 2500 in all, were picked.


First Lady Melania Trump welcomes the Morrisons in the Rose Garden. Photo: Getty

Guests were served a mix of “culinary adaptations” including sunchoke (earth apples) ravioli for entree, roasted Dover Sole, then filleted with Fennel Mousseline and perennial herbs from the White House Kitchen Garden.

The White House said the dessert was an American classic: Lady Apple Tart with Calvados Ice Cream.

Not to leave out the wines: A 2017 Napa Valley Spring Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2017 is the product of Spring Mountain Vineyard and  a 2016 Argyle Pinot Noir “Reserve”, a result of a “combination of Australian innovation and American ingenuity”.

Topics: Scott Morrison
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