| Sunday, August 28, 2005
| WHITE HOUSE HIRES FIRST FEMALE HEAD CHEF......AND A FILIPINA .
|Laura Bush Auditioned Applicants for Months.
WACO, Texas -- Kitchen duties may have traditionally been viewed as women's work, but not at the White House. Until no; Cristeta Comerford has been named executive chef.
After an extensive six-month search, first Lady Laura Bush announced Sunday that Comerford was chosen from hundreds of applicants to head the Executive Kitchen. A naturalized U.S. cirizen from the Philippines, she will be the first woman and first minority to hold the post.
The 42 year-old Comerford has been assistant chef at the White House for 10 years. She worked under former executive chef Walter Scheib III, who resigned in February.
Scheib said Sunday that Comerford was hands down the best assistant he had in his 30-year career and is a wonderful choice to take over. He said she is a great cook with an artistic eye and a calm demeanor that can handle the pressure cooker that is the White House kitchen.
"People keep talking about how wonderful it is that she's a woman," Scheib said in a telephone interview. "If there is value in the gender, that's fine and dandy. But I say she's a create chef who happens to be a woman".
While being executive chef at the White House is prestigious, the job also can be grueling. Comerford will be in charge of whipping up everything from state dinners for world leaders to munchies for the commander in chief, his family and guest.
As many as 2,000 guests per month are fed at the White House. Mrs. Bush has signaled her intent to do more entertaining that in the first term, when festivities were taboo after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11,2001.
Mrs. Bush said she was delighted that Comerford accepted the job. "Her passion for cooking can be tasted in every bite of her delicious creations," the first lady said in a statement.
Mrs. Bush has been trying out finalists for the job, asking them to prepare test meals at special functions and private meals at the residence.
Comerford developed the menu for last months honorary dinner for Indian Prime Minister Mammohan Singh. The 134 dinner guests dined on chilled asparagus soup and lemon creme; pan-pried roasted halibut, ginger-carrot butter, basmati rice with pistachio nuts and currants and herbed summer vegetables; and salad of Bibb lettuce and citrus vinaigrette.
The first lady's press secretary, Susan Whitson, said Mrs. Bush chose Comerford while spendng August at the Bushes' Texas ranch. The job was offered to Comerford on Friday by the White House social secretary, Lea Berman, and head usher Gary Walters.
Whitson said Comerford then left for a vacation to a foreign country that the White House would not disclose and was not available for interviews Sunday.
Comerford has a bachelor's degree in Food Technology from the University of the Philippines. She has worked at Le Ciel in Vienna, Austria and at restaurants in two Washington hotels -- the Westin and the ANA, which has since changed ownership.
The head chef is responsible for designing and executing menus for state dinners, social events, holiday functions, receptions and official luncheons hosted by the president and the first lady. The job pays around $80,000 - $100,000 a year.
Mrs. Bush's statement said Comerford has been trained in French classical techniques and specializes in ethnic and American cuisine and has experience working with chefs in San Francisco and the California wine country.
(Associated Press by: Nedra Pickler)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 11:39 PM