Entertainment & Arts

Gwen Stefani and Chance the Rapper among the high-wattage celebs at President Obama’s final state dinner

Gwen Stefani, who opened the after-dinner portion of President Obama’s final state dinner Tuesday night on the South Lawn of the White House, was among the celebs puzzling out why they’d made the guest list for the event, held in honor of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini. 

“I’m trying to, like, figure this out, how I got here,” Stefani told the hundreds of assembled guests after opening her mini-concert with “The Sweet Escape.” She also talked about her dad being Italian American, according to the Associated Press.

A less mysterious invite? Blake Shelton got to the dinner as his girlfriend’s plus-one.

“We’re Jews, but we identify as Italian,” Jerry Seinfeld joked, while his wife, Jessica, riffed that they spend a lot of time traveling in Italy and “almost exclusively go out for Italian food, but that’s as far as I can figure.”


First daughters Malia and Sasha Obama are fans of Chance the Rapper, who showed up with his dad, Kenneth Bennet, and is from the Obamas’ home base, Chicago. 

Guest Rachael Ray has done a number of projects with Michelle Obama as part of the first lady’s efforts against childhood obesity. Plus she and plus-one hubby John Cusimano were married in Montalcino, Italy, in 2005.

Italian connection notwithstanding, “I should only come here in sneakers,” Ray said after falling while climbing stairs at the dinner and subsequently cutting out the lining of her dress.

Other celebs on the list included singer-songwriter-rapper Frank Ocean with mom Katonya Breaux, singer-songwriter James Taylor and wife Kim, and some starry guests of the prime minister: “Life Is Beautiful” Oscar winner Roberto Benigni and racing legend Mario Andretti.


American celebrity chef Mario Batali put an Italian touch on the “Celebrating Autumn’s Harvest” themed menu, which opened with pumpkin agnolotti, starred a beef braciole pinwheel as the main course, closed with a dessert array including tiramisu and was accented by California wines throughout. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Follow Christie D’Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ.


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