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Obama celebrates last Cinco de Mayo in the White House

The Mexican rock band Maná played the East Room party and San Antonio chef Johnny Hernandez cooked for the 500 invited guests.

By Stephen Feller
Obama celebrates last Cinco de Mayo in the White House
President Barack Obama, center, delivers remarks during a reception to mark the Cinco de Mayo holiday in the East Room at the White House May 5, 2016 in Washington, DC. The holiday commemorates the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in on May 5, 1862. Pool photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama threw a party for his last Cinco de Mayo at the White House, bringing in a band and celebrity chef from San Antonio for the celebration in the East Room.

The Mexican rock band Maná, who supported Obama for president in 2008 and campaigned with him at an 11,000-person rally in Nevada in 2012, played the celebration after earlier in the day participating in the Latino Talks panel discussion about Hispanic contributions in the United States.

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"It's an honor and a dream come true to be playing here today. If they told me I'd be doing this years ago, I wouldn't have believed it," Maná lead singer Fher Olvera said at the reception, reported Billboard.

Chef Johnny Hernandez, who owns the restaurants La Gloria, The Fruteria, El Machito and True Flavors Culinary Planners, cooked a menu for the 500-guest party spotlighting the flavors of Mexico and San Antonio. He said he had been planning the dishes since getting a call from the White House a few weeks ago.

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"I have cooked in a lot of places as a guest chef, but going to the White House as a guest chef is different. It's a special place," Hernandez told the San Antonio Express News while preparing for the meal. "It hasn't all sunk in yet. I think it will when I walk through those hallways. I'm very excited to share the authenticity of Mexican cuisine with the White House and to bring the culture of San Antonio to a new place."

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The menu included chiles en nogada, fruit gazpacho, chicken tinga, pineapple empanadas and tres leches cake, as well as selections from Puebla, Mexico, where a Mexican military victory against France took place on May 5, 1862, Hernandez told KSAT-TV.

Although Cinco de Mayo is celebrated widely in the United States -- many Americans think it is Mexico's independence day, which is actually in September -- honoring the battle victory is considered a minor holiday in Mexico.

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