'Critical' member of Obama team leaving
© Getty Images

President Obama’s personal chef and the head of the first lady’s childhood nutrition campaign will depart the White House at the end of December.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sam Kass, a 34-year-old Chicagoan who became Obama’s personal chef when the president was an Illinois senator, told The Wall Street Journal his departure was prompted by his marriage earlier this year to MSNBC host Alex Wagner, who is based in New York.

“I love this family and believe in the work that we’re doing and the mission of the president and the first lady. But after being recently married, I have to put our future first,” Kass told the paper.

Kass said he expected to take some time off, and then give speeches and continue his work on healthy eating in the private sector. Kass is also expected to remain active in the first lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign.

In a statement, Obama hailed Kass as having “grown from a close friend to a critical member of my team.”

“From constructing our Kitchen Garden to brewing our own Honey Brown Ale, Sam has left an indelible mark on the White House,” Mr. Obama said in a White House release. “And with the work he has done to inspire families and children across this country to lead healthier lives, Sam has made a real difference for our next generation.”

The first lady said Kass had built an “extraordinary legacy of progress, including healthier food options in grocery store aisles, more nutritious school lunches, and new efforts that have improved how healthy food is marketed to our kids.”

“I wish Sam success in all his future endeavors, and I know he will continue to be a leader in the vitally important work to build a healthier country,” she added.

Earlier this summer, the president and first lady attended the Kass-Wagner wedding at an upscale farm-to-table restaurant called Blue Hill in Pocantico Hills, N.Y.

Weeks earlier, the president and deputy chief of staff Anita Breckenridge spent nearly five hours at Kass’s Washington, D.C. apartment after the president returned briefly from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation. The gathering was thought to be an early celebration of the nuptials.

Kass's successor will be named in the new year, the White House said.

--This report was updated at 10:02 a.m.