National security wonks this week are wondering: Which U.S. spooks in Northern Virginia put out a classified ad seeking a chef with a Top Secret security clearance? Two things are known: The hiring agency runs the CIA's cafeteria, and CIA workers don't think much of their cafeteria.
Food contractor Sodexo recently posted a job advertisement seeking an executive chef for a top government agency, but specified that applicants must be able to obtain a top-secret government clearance.
"Sodexo's Government Services Division is seeking a strong Executive Chef to manage all the culinary operations at a high profile government dining account in Northern Virginia," the company said. "The successful candidate must be able to obtain a TS [top secret]/SCI [sensitive compartmented information] clearance."
As government and military types will tell you, a TS/SCI clearance is no joke—a prerequisite for working with critical intelligence, a career-making credential earned through years of work and the endurance of deep background investigations. (On the other hand, an estimated 1.4 million Americans, half a million of them contractors, hold some kind of Top Secret clearance; Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden both got them relatively quickly, so big grain of salt there.)
Now, the job listing doesn't specify what agency needs a chef; it lists the work as being in Herndon, Virginia, which is not the home of the CIA's vaunted headquarters; that's in Langley. But: There's that other supposed CIA building, built around the same time as the nearby National Counterterrorism Center. The address: 499 Grove Street, Herndon.
Why would our clandestine operators and analysis need a secret-keeping chef? Because the food is really not good. We know this thanks to a series of FOIAs filed in recent years for the CIA's cafeteria comment cards and customer emails. We know, for example:
The new breakfast "kilbasa" is really flavorless:
The quarter-chicken platter is really more of a 3/8 chicken platter:
The Russian-themed meal is just culturally offensive:
The burger-flippers are surly:
This Subway sandwich bread sucks:
And there are NO GRAPES in the Jazz Salad.
As you can see, all of these complaints are apparently filed to Sodexo, the contractor in charge of the food... and the one that's looking for that spy chef now.
Of course, if the CIA is looking for top-notch chefs, it should probably start its search at the CIA.
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