Cristeta Comerford has been the White House Executive Chef since 2005. She was born and raised in Manila, and studied Food Technology at the University of Philippines, Diliman, before leaving school early for a chef job at a hotel near O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Comerford then worked as a chef for several restaurants in Washington, DC, before being recruited as sous-chef by the White House in 1995. Ten years later, Comerford was promoted to Executive Chef by Laura Bush, and has continued to serve through the Obama and Trump administrations.
Cristeta Comerford is the first woman and person of color to hold the role of Executive Chef, which was established in 1961 by Jacqueline Kennedy. Earlier Presidents hired personal chefs who were commonly from Europe, but their kitchen staff was predominantly black. Winnie Monroe and Dolly Johnson were black women hired by Presidents in the late 19th century in roles that were somewhat similar to the modern Executive Chef.
While specific facts about Comerford’s work are top secret, the Executive Chef typically caters for the First Family and their diplomatic guests, a prominent and challenging role where they must be aware of dietary tastes and restrictions from around the world. Cristeta Comerford is also the US’s member of Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, an elite organization of the chefs of world leaders.