Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cristeta Pasia Comerford


Cristeta Pasia Comerford
Executive Chef
The White House
Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Story and pictures gathered from various publications, including The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post, January 9, 2009.

Today Michelle Obama announced that Cristeta Comerford will stay on as White House executive chef, putting to rest all the speculation surrounding the decision.

Cristeta Comerford took the job in 2005 and is the first woman and first minority to serve as executive chef.

"Cristeta Comerford brings such incredible talent to the White House operation and came very highly regarded from the Bush family," Michelle Obama said in a statement released by the transition team. "Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families."

Comerford is a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Philippines who studied French cooking in Vienna, Austria, and specializes in ethnic and American cuisine.

From The Washington Post:

She's come a long, long, long way, this former hotel "salad girl." Before she was hired as an assistant chef in the White House in 1995, before first lady Laura Bush promoted her to White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford -- "Cris" to her neighbors and co-workers here in the Washington area, "Teta" to her large but tight-knit Filipino family in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove --was in charge of a salad bar.

"That's what I called her, 'salad girl.' She prepared Caesar salad, Cobb salad," says Juanito Pasia, Cristeta's older brother, trying not to laugh. It was Juanito who drove Teta-- then 23, newly arrived from the Philippines -- in his blue Ford van to and from work at a Sheraton Hotel near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. "Can you believe it?" he asks, giving another hearty laugh. "Can you believe this is happening?"


In the White House kitchen

Comerford presenting the holiday menu in 2005:

And in 2006....

And in 2007...

Cristeta Comerford (neƩ Pasia) is the White House Executive Chef as of 2005. She is the first woman to be selected for the post, and also the first of Filipino descent.

Early life
Cristeta Comerford was born in 1962, as 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 had left school to immigrate to the United States.

She immigrated to the United States at the age of 23. Her first job was at the Sheraton Hotel near O'Hare International Airport. She also worked at the Hyatt Regency hotel. After Chicago, she moved to Washington, D.C., and worked as a chef at two restaurants. She spent six months in Vienna as a rotating chef. Comerford was recruited by executive chef Walter Scheib III in 1995 to work in the Clinton White House.

Scheib resigned as executive chef in February 2005. Comerford was appointed by First Lady Laura Bush on August 14, 2005. She is the first female executive chef and the first Filipina to hold this position.

She reportedly was appointed to this position due to her handling of a large dinner that was held in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. On January 9th, 2009, the Obama transition team announced that Comerford would be retained as the administration's head chef, Michelle Obama stating "Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families."

Personal life
She lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband, John, and their daughter, Danielle.

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