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15 minutes with Marc S Ullman

Good food, good wine and equally good conversation — these are the hallmarks of Marc S Ullman, industry legal authority and consummate supporter of DSHEA. Functional Ingredients posed a familiar question to Ullman to see how his love of food and politics might fuse into a rich evening — even if only imagined.

Fi: If there was one political figure you could share a meal and a good bottle of wine with, who would it be, why … and what would be on the menu?

The menu
MU: Since I love really big red wines, I would dine at the Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan. Working off of the Tavern's three-course menu, the meal would start with the Whole Spelt Spaghetti; the second course would be the Rack of Lamb Fennel, Fava Beans and Chickpea Fries (well worth the supplemental charge); and to finish — a warm Chocolate Bread Pudding and Cacao Nib Ice Cream. (Yes, there is a reason all of my suits are tight).

The wine selection would be a bottle of 2001 Greenock Creek Shiraz Creek Block, a 100-point Parker wine that I have never had the opportunity to taste.

The man
MU: I find President Clinton a fascinating story of success, followed by setbacks and adversity (often self-inflicted), and followed by renewed successes. Any insight the former president offered about how to overcome this kind of adversity would be invaluable.

This pattern also echoes for his wife's career, whose performance as Secretary of State is, in my opinion, universally hailed as exemplary following a crushing defeat in the Democratic presidential primary process. Her life is equally fascinating — so much so, I would be inclined to invite her to dinner as well. I believe this kind of resilience is rare, especially for a husband and wife.

The dialogue
MU: Of course, I would want to discuss political philosophy with the former President. He was the first presidential candidate who motivated me to contribute to a political campaign. He has a unique ability to make people feel that he truly cares about them. To the extent that it would be possible over a single meal, I would try to understand how he was able to do that, and if it was genuine.

I would also love to explore the notion that he seemed so willing to compromise (triangulate, if you will) in order to incrementally advance his agenda, and whether a decade later he felt he had made a lasting impression on the American political landscape.

And, since I have spent a large portion of my career working in the dietary-supplements/natural-products industry (as well as growing up in the industry while my father's firm was general counsel to the National Nutritional Foods Association, now known as the Natural Products Association), I would want to garner whatever insight I could into how the man who signed DSHEA into law could appoint David Kessler as commissioner of the FDA, a man who proved to be an intractable enemy of DSHEA.

Lastly, over dessert, we would discuss what television the former president watched and what books he read over the past year.

Marc can be reached at [email protected]

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