When the Chinese delegation requested a "quintessentially American dinner," what did that mean to White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford? Born in the Philippines, French-trained, and married to a chef of Irish descent, Comerford thinks that quintessentially American food "reminds you of home." For her state dinner menu, Comerford created a collection of local, seasonal dishes that showcased America's best products. Served to 200 people in 48 minutes, the White House state dinner consisted of five courses. Goat cheese salad, poached Maine lobster, and dry-aged rib eye all made an appearance. Leading a team of 41 chefs, Comerford executed the dinner in near silence, communicating with hand gestures. The White House kitchen operates like a ballet, elegant and rehearsed.
Former White House chef Walter Scheib III brought Comerford onto the White House team in 1995. In 2005, Laura Bush made her the executive chef. She was the first female and the first ethnic minority to occupy the position.
There's a long history of great food at the White House-George Washington and Abraham Lincoln both enjoyed local food. To read more about the Chinese state dinner and Comerford's inspiring career, click here.