Check out the feature and interview of CNN Talk Asia to Filipino Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford of the White House, you can watch the interview today September 4 at 7:30pm, September 5 at 3:30am and 4:30pm, and Sept. 6 at 2:30am, get to know more about how she started as a chef in the White House and the Obama's favorite food, hmm could be pinoy food?
read more below on the feature and short intro about Chef Cristeta
For fifteen years, a Filipino mother has been working her culinary magic at the White House and became the first female Executive Chef in 2005 under former First Lady Laura Bush. Her creations are savoured by America’s First Families, as well as the likes of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other heads of the states. On this week’s Talk Asia, Cristeta Comerford takes host Hala Gorani inside Washington DC's most famous address and shows her how a White House dinner is prepared.
Growing up in a big family of eleven siblings in Manila, Cristeta started volunteering for breakfast duty in the kitchen at the age of nine. “When I was in the third grade, I volunteered - ‘Mom, I’ll take care of breakfast from now on, so you don’t have to do it’. It was really a thing that I’ve always enjoyed as a child but not really thinking that this would be the path of my career.”
It was Cristeta’s father who noticed her daughter’s talents in cooking and encouraged her to attend culinary school. “I gave him the blank stare. Culinary School? Why should I go to a culinary school? I never really took him seriously. But you know, in retrospect, I guess father really knows best.”
Cristeta worked in a couple of restaurants and hotels after she immigrated to the U.S. in her early twenties. She was later recruited to work in the White House under the Clinton administration. From cooking for a small family of four to a state dinner of over 300 guests, the Executive Chef’s most memorable White House moment took place recently. “We did a governors dinner last year and for Mrs Obama, that would be her first formal dinner coming into the White House. So for me, that’s very special because this is the start of our representation of her,” says Cristeta.
As the first White House chef of Filipino descent, the 48-year-old is proud to bring her hometown’s local delicacies to the First Families she’s worked for. “It’s very humbling for me just to be even in this position right now, to serve the first family, the President, the First Lady and the children. Because coming from you know, like a third world country and being here and serving like the most powerful man in the world, that’s a big thing.”
Cristeta also shares with Hala her experience competing in the reality television show “Iron Chef America”, the First Lady’s healthy eating campaign and what the Obamas’ favorite dishes are.
Cristeta Comerford’s interview with TALK ASIA will be available online at www.cnn.com/talkasia after the first airing.