Tuesday, January 25

Cristeta Comerford, the Filipino ‘salad girl’ who ended up cooking for the presidents of the United States and Queen Elizabeth


I was born in Manila and immigrated to the United States to carve out a future. She started out in a hotel and started her own restaurant in Washington and was discovered by the Clintons’ chef de cuisine. He has been in the White House for 26 years.

Cristeta Comerford, at the meeting
Cristeta Comerford, at the ‘Chef des Chefs Club’ meeting held in 2015 in Italy.Reuters
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When Jackie Kennedy decided to reform the White House to her liking in 1961 to give it a more European, especially French touch, she did not hesitate to transform a living room into the kitchen of the main mansion and, of course, create a new position, the of White House Executive Chef (chef). Six decades later and after much racking, that task now falls to Cristeta Comerford (58), a Filipino woman who escaped from Manila to carve out a future. Upon arriving in the United States in 1985, her first job was in the kitchen of the Chicago airport hotel, where she was nicknamed The salad girl.

The tenth of the eleven children of a marriage With few resources (her father, Honesto Pasia, runs a school and her mother is a housewife) she was quick to read. After washing and cutting tons of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, I decided to try my luck in Washington, where he opened his own restaurant. The American dream had come true. However, the grand prize was yet to come. In 1995, at just 33 years old, the then White House chef, Walter Scheib, hired her as second chef, while Bill Clinton he was president. The Clintons wanted family dishes, so it was normal for the president to make good beef steaks weighing over a pound with onion rings and bernese sauce. Scheib and Comerford continued in their positions until the squabbles between Scheib and the new tenants, George Bush Jr. and his wife Laura, became increasingly untenable, thus the first lady fired him.

450 candidates appeared for the vacancy, but Cristeta won. With a stroke of the pen, she became the first woman and first ethnic minority person to hold this position. At that time, her husband, John Comerford, took a step back in his career as a chef so that Cristeta could focus on her work and thus be able to take care of her daughter Danielle, who at the age of eight was already able to prepare a four-course meal. .

His fame grew like foam and it did not take long to give conferences across the country. When the Obamas arrived he had a good chemistry with Michelle and both carried out the project to fight against childhood and youth obesity. In addition, she prepared many dishes with the organic vegetables that the first lady herself grew in the presidential gardens, following the guidelines of Jos Andrs. In fact, in 2010 won the Iron Chef America contest with dishes made with vegetables and vegetables from the White House.

With the arrival of Trump to the presidency, many media speculated with his dismissal and, even, there was news fake who claimed that he had been fired because the mogul didn’t like salads. All fake. The chef has lasted 26 years in the White House.

Affectionately, everyone in the presidential mansion calls her Cris, but for his most intimate is Teta. Her fame is extrapolated far beyond the White House and this July she became the protagonist of the annual meeting of the Club des Chefs des Chefs, an event that brings together the chefs of the heads of state. This 2021 was held at the Hotel Plaza Athne, in Paris and Comerford was the only woman.

In the kitchen there are seven full-time people. In it you can prepare an evening for two, a state dinner for more than 100 people or a picnic for more than 1,000. In these cases, other specialists are eventually hired. Among the illustrious visitors who have savored its dishes are the Queen isabel II and her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh; Charles of England and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi or Justin Trudeau.

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