First Lady Laura Bush appointed Cristeta “Cris” Comerford as the White House Executive Chef in 2005. In 1995, Comeford was hired as an assistant chef by White House executive chef Walter Scheib. When Scheib resigned, Ms. Comerford, became the first woman to serve in the position and is responsible for designing and executing menus for state dinners, social events, holiday functions, receptions and official luncheons hosted by the President and Mrs. Obama.
Ms Comerford is trained in French classical techniques and specializing in ethnic and American cuisine.
Ms. Comerford received her bachelor’s degree in Food Technology from the University of the Philippines and gained culinary experience serving as Chef Tournant at Le Ciel in Vienna, Austria; Chef at Le Grande Bistro at The Westin Hotel in Washington, D.C.; and Chef at The Colonnade at the ANA Hotel in Washington, D.C., where she implemented the “Culinary Arts Gallery” which showcased the best of American fine cuisine.
Ms. Comerford’s brother Juanito was the first to settle in the U.S. He petitioned for his family to join him and Comerford entered on a family visa. She lives in Columbia, Maryland with her husband, John and their daughter, Danielle.
The Obama transition team released a statement from Mrs. Obama about the family’s decision to keep Ms. Comerford as the White House Executive Chef:
“Cristeta Comerford brings such incredible talent to the White House operation and came very highly regarded from the Bush family. Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families. I look forward to working with her in the years to come.”
Also, the President and Mrs. Obama have chosen Chicago chef, Sam Kass to act as the family’s personal chef at the White House. Mr. Kass worked as a private chef for the Obamas in Chicago. Mr. Kass will work as an assistant to White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford. He will be paid by the government and not the Obamas. Sam Kass knows what the Obamas like to eat and is very into healthy cooking and using local ingredients. Mr. Kass is a Chicago native and a graduate of the University of Chicago. He trained in Europe and was a line chef at the Mediterranean restaurant, Avec in Chicago. Also, Mr. Kass headed the kitchen at Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull-House Museum which has soup luncheons every Tuesday.