VOLUME 28 NO. 4 | JANUARY 17 - JANUARY 23, 2009


What’s cookin’ at the White House?

Last updated 1-15-09 at 1:27 p.m.

White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford
White House photo by Tina Hager

By Staff
Northwest Asian Weekly

Even the leader of the free world needs to take time out of his day to eat a meal. So who will don a chef’s hat and feed the Obama family for the next term?

It’s the same person who has been cooking for President George W. Bush.

Cristeta Comerford has been the White House executive chef since 2005. She is the first woman to be selected for the post, as well as the first of Filipino descent.

She also comes with a glowing recommendation. A transition official stated that first lady Laura Bush has only nice things to say about Comerford. Comerford creates “original dishes with American flavor,” said Laura Bush’s office.

Michelle Obama stated, “Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families.”

Comerford is not without her dissenters, though. Ruth Reichl, editor of Gourmet magazine, offered to help Obama find a new executive chef. She believes that the White House can use a chef who cooks with more local and organic foods. Reichl cites that this is important given the obesity crisis in the United States.

Comerford was born Cristeta Pasia in the Philippines and grew up in Sampaloc, Manila. She completed her secondary education at the Manila Science High School. She attended the University of the Philippines, Diliman in Quezon City and majored in food technology. However, she did not earn her degree because she left school to immigrate to the United States at the age of 23.

Comerford’s first job was at the Sheraton Hotel near O‘Hare International Airport in Chicago. She also worked at the Hyatt Regency hotel. She then moved to Washington, D.C., and worked as a chef at two restaurants. She additionally spent six months in Vienna as a rotating chef. Executive Chef Walter Scheib III recruited Comerford in 1995 to work in the White House while President Bill Clinton was in office.

Scheib resigned as executive chef in February 2005. First lady Laura Bush appointed Comerford on Aug. 14, 2005 to replace him.

She was reportedly appointed to this position due to her handling of a large dinner that was held for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Comerford lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband, John, and their daughter, Danielle. (end)

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