Come January 20th, President Bush will move out of Washington, along with his wife Laura, dog Barney, staff and entire administration. But one critical member of the White House staff is staying right where she is: White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford.
The 42-year-old Filipina chef was born in Manila and studied food technology in Quezon City; she moved to the United States at the age of 23, and worked at several hotels and restaurants before training in Vienna, taking on the role of Chef Tournant at Le Ciel restaurant. She then joined the White House culinary team during the Clinton administration in 1995. When the reigning head of the kitchen left in 2005, Laura Bush appointed Chef Comerford to the position of Executive Chef—the first woman to take on that role.
Until last week, there had been a great deal of speculation over who the Obamas would want in their kitchen. The New York Daily News claimed
that three chefs were “under consideration”: James Beard award-winner Art Smith, Rick Bayless of Chicago’s Topolobampo, and Daniel Young, who catered the DNC; meanwhile, food blog Serious Eats
whimsically nominated Marcus Samuelsson and Grant Achatz. Talk swirled of a celebrity chef in the White House. However, the Obamas elected to keep Chef Comerford on top. Michelle Obama cited
her “incredible talent” and “high regard” from the Bush family, while noting that as a mother, Comerford shared her “perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families.”
While Obama may be bringing change to Washington, some things will stay the same.