Cristeta Comerford

Cristeta Pasia Comerford (born 1962) is a Philippine-American chef who has been the White House Executive Chef since 2005. She is the first woman to be selected for the post, and also the first of Asian descent

Early life 

Cristeta Comerford was born as Cristeta Pasia in the Philippines and grew up at Sampaloc, Manila. She completed her secondary education at the ManilaScienceHigh School. She attended the University of the Philippines, Diliman in Quezon City, majoring in food technology. However, she left school before completing the degree when she immigrated to the United States at the age of 23.


Comerford’s first job was at the Sheraton Hotel near O’Hare International Airport. She also worked at the Hyatt Regency hotel. After Chicago, she moved to Washington, D.C., and worked as a chef at two restaurants. She additionally spent six months in Vienna as a rotating chef. Comerford was recruited by White House executive chef Walter Scheib III in 1995 to work in the Clinton White House.

After Scheib resigned in February 2005, Comerford was appointed White House executive chef by First Lady Laura Bush on August 14, 2005. Comerford is the first female White House executive chef and the first person of ethnic minority origin to hold this position.

She reportedly was appointed to this position due to her handling of a large dinner that was held in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

She was referred to when George Bush mentioned his “Philippine-American chef” to visiting Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in June 2008.

On January 9, 2009, the Obama transition team announced that Comerford would be retained as the administration’s head chef. Michelle Obama stated, “She is also the mom of a young daughter, and I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families.”

Comerford appeared on a special two hour episode of Iron Chef America, originally broadcast on January 2, 2010. She was teamed up with Bobby Flay and competed against a team of Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali. Comerford and Flay were triumphant.


Cristeta Comerford’s Sweet Potato Pie

SWEET POTATO PIE is said to be PRESIDENT OBAMA favorite dish

Filling: 3 sweet potatoes, 4 sticks cinnamon, 5 star anise, 1 orange quartered, 2 tbsp melted butter

Dough: 1 cup butter, ½ cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp lemon zest, 2 egg yolks, 2 ½ cup flour

Custard: 3 cups crème fraiche, 4 whole eggs, 1 tbsp vanilla, 2 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp salt


Pre-heat oven to 350.

For the pie dough, cream the sugar and butter. Add the dry ingredients and gently mix. Incorporate the vanilla, zest and egg yolks. Form into a ball and let rest in the refrigerator. Roll the dough to fit a 12 inch tart pan. Top with parchment paper and cooking beads and bake blind for 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the sweet potato puree, bake the whole sweet potatoes and all the aromatics on a sheet tray at 350 degrees until tender. Scoop the meat and pass through a chinoise. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, mix the custard base and fold into the cooled potato puree.

Pour into the cooked tart shell and finish cooking until set, about 35 minutes.

For the honey meringue topping: 3 egg whites, 2 cups honey, reduced by half

Whip the egg whites until stiff and incorporate the hot reduced honey. Top the cooked sweet potato pie and broil until the meringue gets a toasted color. Enjoy.

Seared Lamb Loin on Chickpea Puree

Boneless lamb loin, 4-6 oz per person

Zest of an orange

Combine in a food processor or blender:

1 to 1-1/2 C. canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), about 1/3 C. tahini (sesame seed paste)

About 2 T., or to taste, harissa (North African chili pepper paste)

2 cloves garlic, or to taste

About 2 T., or to taste, harissa (North African chili pepper paste)About 3 T. fresh mint, chopped

About 3 T. fresh mint, chopped

Freshly-ground sea salt and pepper, to taste

Process/blend ingredients above with enough olive oil to form a puree; taste and adjust aromatics, seasoning.

Gently warm the puree in a saucepan on the stovetop; do not boil. Set aside.

Slice lamb loin into rounds ½-3/4″ thick; dry thoroughly with paper or cloth towel. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Sear lamb on both sides until medium-rare. Do not overcook. Spread about ¼ C. of the puree, or more if desired, onto the center of a warm plate, lay two or three lamb rounds over the top.

Garnish the lamb with orange zest. Decorate the plate with bright green finishing oil, if desired (recipe below). Serves 4.