|In this photograph
provided by the White House, Chef Cristeta 'Cris' Comerford
prepares a meal inside the White House kitchen in this July
Kitchen duties may have traditionally been viewed as women's work, but
not at the White House. Until now: Cristeta Comerford has been named
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. citizen from the Philippines, she
will be the first woman and first minority to hold the post.
The 42-year-old Comerford has been an 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
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 guests.
As many as 2,000 guests per month are fed at the White House. Mrs. Bush
has signaled her intent to do more entertaining than in the first term,
when festivities were taboo after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
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 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 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 first lady. The job pays around
$80,000-$100,000 a year.