Who is White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford?

Filipina-American chef to prepare elaborate meal for presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron

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US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron will dine on an elaborate feast at the White House on Thursday night.

On the menu will be butter-poached lobster, beef with shallot marmalade and an American cheese trio that will feature in the red, white and blue-themed state dinner.

Orange chiffon cake, roasted pears and creme fraiche ice cream will make up the dessert offerings.

Thursday's meal will be cooked by White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford.

Here are some things to know about the White House's Filipina-American culinary master who has served up countless plates to four presidents.

Life before her big role

Born in Manila in 1962, Ms Comerford studied food technology before immigrating to the US at age 23.

She began her career overseeing a salad bar at a hotel near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and later went on to become a chef at Le Grande Bistro at the Westin Hotel, followed by the Collonade in Washington.

Ms Comerford first came to the White House in 1995 as an assistant chef during former president Bill Clinton's administration.

Former first lady Laura Bush, wife of George W Bush, selected Ms Comerford as the next executive chef when she and her husband entered the White House.

She remained as White House executive chef under former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and has continued in her role under Mr Biden.

Executive Chef Cris Comerford, left, and executive pastry chef Susie Morrison hold dishes during a media preview for the state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron. AP

What does a White House chef do?

Ms Comerford oversees five other chefs and other staff members in the White House kitchen.

She prepares a range of meals, from the president's snacks to elaborate state dinners, such as the one Mr Biden and Mr Macron will attend on Thursday night.

The White House modifies its menu for religious occasions to ensure food is properly prepared.

She does not use measurements while cooking, instead relying on taste and her kitchen experience.

Ms Comerford said she cooks for her audience's preferences, but said her mother's recipes continue to inspire her dishes.

Cristeta Comerford with former first lady Michelle Obama during a kitchen preview for a dinner in 2009. Reuters

A long lists of firsts

Ms Comerford's hire as White House executive chef was a historic one.

She was the first woman to be named to the role, the first person of Asian descent and first person of colour to hold the title.

She was also the first executive chef to be promoted from within the White House.

Updated: December 01, 2022, 9:52 PM
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