The First Filipina Executive Chef of the White House, Cristeta Comerford
Cristeta Pacia Comerford made history when she became the first woman Executive Chef of the White House. She is also the first of Asian descent to be chosen for the position.
Cristeta Comerford was born and raised in the streets of Manila, Philippines. She completed her secondary education at the Manila Science High School and continued tertiary education at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, where she majored in food technology. At the age of 23, she left school and migrated to the United States, without completing her degree.
Upon Comerford’s arrival in the United States, she was assigned to work as a chef at the Sheraton Hotel and Hyatt Regency Hotel. She eventually moved to Washington, D.C. and worked as a chef at two different restaurants, The Colonnade at the ANA Hotel and Le Grande Bistro at The Westin Hotel. Other than that, she spent around six months in Vienna, Austria as a rotating chef at Le Ciel.
In 1995, she was hired as an assistant chef to White House executive chef, Walter Scheib. A decade passed and Scheib resigned. She was then appointed by First Lady Laura Bush as the new executive chef, making her the first female White House executive chef and the first Asian chef to hold such position.
In 2009, the Obamas could have chosen a new executive chef, but they decided to keep Comerford instead. According to First Lady Michelle Obama, “She is also the mom of a young daughter, and I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families.”
Being the chef for the head of state, Comerford became a member of Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, a club that brings together all chefs of heads of state to discuss their creations. She also appeared on a special two-hour episode of Iron Chef America, where she teamed up with Bobby Flay. They competed with another team and later went home triumphant.
Comerford’s White House career spans almost twenty years now. She started as a sous chef in the Clinton administration in 1995, was hailed as the White House Executive Chef under the Bush administration in 2005 and then retained at the beginning of the Obama rule until now.
The First Filipina Executive Chef of the White House, Cristeta Comerford by Holly Bissonnette