New Emissary

Comerford Serves White House

The White House’s first Filipino and first female executive chef specializes in ethnic American food.

Maya Lin, Vera Wang, Michelle Kwan and Yo-Yo Ma were all invited to the state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao held at the White House last month. It’s always interesting to see what’s served up on the menu for visiting state guests, especially now that the White House has its first Filipino and first female executive chef—Cristeta ‘Cris’ Comerford.

I downloaded the White House booklet listing details of the official menu for Hu’s visit, which also included things such as details of the décor (‘A symbol of China—yellow, the national colour—will be present throughout the cocktail area.’), biographies of performers such as Chinese pianist Lang Lang, and more.

Served up were:

D'Anjou Pear with Farmstead Goat Cheese
Fennel, Black Walnuts, and White Balsamic

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Poached Maine Lobster
Orange Glaze Carrots and Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Wine: DuMol Chardonnay "Russian River" 2008 (California)

*Lemon Sorbet*

Dry Aged Rib Eye with Buttermilk Crisp Onions
Double Stuffed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach

Wine: Quilceda Creek Cabernet "Columbia Valley" 2005 (Washington State)

Old Fashioned Apple Pie
with Vanilla Ice Cream

It’s a great looking menu from Comerford, who was appointed White House chef in 2005 after spending 10 years there as assistant chef. She was trained in the Philippines and Austria before moving to the United States. She was reportedly trained in French classical techniques, but now specializes in ethnic American food.

The Asia Society has an interesting profile of Comerford in which she talks about her culinary influences and how her daughter still loves a traditional Filipino breakfast—tocino, longganisa, corned beef and fried rice.