Did The Real Chef Boyardee Actually Cater This Presidential Wedding?

Many know how Chef Boyardee's transformation into the canned brand brought to the minds of a generation by television advertisements began with the Second World War and the military's need for rationing. However, the legend of Ettore Boiardi, the chef behind Chef Boyardee, expands further into an amorphous blob of uncited claims that Boiardi's military ties actually trace back to feeding the veterans of World War I because Woodrow Wilson adored the meal Boiardi had prepared for the reception of his second wedding.

In fairness, the company only claims in a puff piece about their eponymous founder that he had served at the second Wilson wedding reception. In their telling, Boiardi had developed enough fame as the head chef of the Plaza Hotel to also maintain a side gig at The Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, which is where the reception was held in 1915  It is Food & Wine that connects this claim with the story about how President Wilson decided to hire Boiardi to cater the 2000 returning doughboys in 1918.

In 2012, Snopes ran a fact check on whether the supposed tradition of eating ravioli on Veteran's Day was subsequently true. In their estimate, this is no better than an unfounded rumor. Though the company doesn't claim Boiardi started this self-imposed tradition, the tangle of stories that has developed requires further probing to see if Boiardi's presence at the Wilson's wedding can be established.

So, did Ettore Boirardi really cater Woodrow Wilson's wedding?

Unfortunately, the Chef Boyardee company does not give any sources for their story. Nor does Food & Wine or Smithsonian Magazine (which does not follow Food & Wine in attributing an origin story for Veteran Day's ravioli to him).

But, perhaps the Greenbrier Hotel can corroborate the claim. After all, Reader's Digest dubbed the Greenbrier Hotel as the "most historic landmark" in West Virginia. However, on the resort's impressive history page, it makes no mention of the Wilson's wedding reception. This is odd for two reasons. First, a presidential wedding would surely be something to note. Second, they acknowledge that Mr. and Mrs. Wilson visited the Greenbrier for the Easter holiday in 1914. The Mrs. Wilson in this case, though, had to be his first wife because, as the History Channel supplies, Woodrow Wilson did not remarry in 1915.

Also, according to Politico, it's unlikely that the Wilson reception took place at the Greenbrier because the private ceremony itself was conducted in the home of Ms. Edith Galt, who became Mrs. Wilson, in Washington, D.C. Though History does not name the specific building, they too located the wedding in Washington, D.C. Google Maps estimates that today it would be a 4-hour drive or a 6-hour public transportation passage to make the trip from her home to said hotel, making it unlikely that the Greenbrier hosted the reception.

None of this is to say Ettore Boiardi positively didn't cater the reception, of course. Instead, this simply indicates that there exists no obvious or tangential evidence to substantiate the claim.