Of Presidencies and Pizza Parties

What’s on the menu at Hoover House—then, now, and next.

May 2024

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Richard Saller, Tanya Luhrmann, Annie Reller and Kalissa Greene sitting around a dining table eating pizza

SAY CHEESE: Luhrmann, Saller, Greene, and Reller dig in. Photo: H. Taghap

When Holly Brady, ’69, had dinner at Hoover House with President J.E. Wallace Sterling, PhD ’38, in 1965, she was served by waitstaff who placed Limoges pots de crème from the left and took them from the right. 

When Stanford interns Kalissa Greene, ’25, and Annie Reller, ’24, went to Hoover House in March, they made pizza with President Richard Saller and ate it on nondescript white plates. 

The latter dinner came about because last September, we published an introductory interview with President Saller in which he described how cooking helps him relax. “One of my therapies is to go home and chop onions or grill something,” he said. “Through COVID, what I really came to like is making my own pizza.”

Which led a reader to quip that he’d like to know Saller’s pizza recipe.

Which led us to invite ourselves to Hoover House with six cameras in tow.

In our video, Kalissa, Annie, and Saller talk about garlic and spinach, introductory seminars and campus protests. They debate whether the weather at Stanford is warm or cold. (Annie, from Seattle, is sporting a sundress. Kalissa, from Alpharetta, Ga., is bundled up in a turtleneck sweater.) The students ask Saller, an expert on the economic and social history of Rome, whether the Romans had pizza. (Spoiler alert: You’ve got to wait till the 16th century. Tomatoes, he points out, come from the Americas.) At the end, the three pizza chefs settle in for dinner, where they’re joined by anthropology professor Tanya Luhrmann, who is married to Saller, and the couple’s miniature Australian shepherds, Ariel and Circe. Annie name-checks Stern Hall, whose architecture was the subject of a brouhaha during the first year of Sterling’s administration. (Another spoiler alert: Its pizza is good but does not measure up to the one you have made with your own hands.) 

In the coming months, we’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to Stanford’s next president, Jonathan Levin, ’94, who takes office in August. And we’ll be sure to let you know what’s on the menu.

Kathy Zonana, ’93, JD ’96, is the editor of Stanford. Email her at

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