Chef Cristeta Pasia Comerford made a culinary history when she became the first Filipino-American Executive Chef of the White House since 2005. The first woman and the first ethnic minority to be named to the post.
Chef Cristeta Comerford was born in 1962 as Cristeta Pasia in the Philippines and grew up on Cataluña Street (now G. Tolentino) 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, majoring in food technology. However, she left school before completing the degree when she emigrated to the United States at the age of 23.
Chef Comerford’s first job was at the Sheraton Hotel near O’Hare International Airport. She also worked at the HyattRegency hotel. After Chicago, she moved to Washington, D.C., and worked as a chef at two restaurants. She additionally spent six months in Vienna as a rotating chef. Comerford was recruited by White House executive chef Walter Scheib III in 1995 to work in the Clinton White House.
After Mr. Scheib resigned in February 2005, Comerford was appointed White House executive chef by First Lady Laura Bush on August 14, 2005. Chef Comerford is the first female White House executive chef and the first person of ethnic minority origin 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.
She was referred to when George Bush mentioned his “Philippine-American chef” to visiting Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in June 2008.
On January 9, 2009, the Obama transition team announced that Chef Comerford would be retained as the administration’s head chef. Michelle Obama stated, “She is also the mom of a young daughter, and I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families.”
Chef Comerford appeared on a special two hour episode of Iron Chef America, originally broadcast on January 2, 2010. She was teamed up with Bobby Flay and competed against a team of Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali. Comerford and Flay were triumphant.
As chef to a head of state, Comerford is a member of Le Club des Chefs des Chefs.
She lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband, John, and their daughter, Danielle.
By: Jason E. / wik
Images used credit to the White House Correspondence