White House Chef
Career: White House Chef
Date: August 8, 2011
Place: The White House, Washington DC
Interview: Cris Comerford, White House Executive Chef
My name is Cris Comerford; I'm the White House Executive Chef.
Responsibilities as a chef:
My main responsibility as the Executive Chef of the White House is taking care of the First Family, foremost and all. Just their daily meals, and of course if they have any social functions or state dinners or any kind of entertaining, we take care of everything in the kitchen.
Definitely it's high pressure, because first and foremost, it's for the President of the United States, so and also, of course, the visiting countries and the visiting Heads of State because you want to respect their traditions, you want to respect their protocol dietary restrictions. So there is a lot of things to learn.
The White House Garden:
We have harvested so much in that little garden, and in a span of 2½ years, there are 300 at least pounds of produce that we have harvested throughout the years.
These are actual Italian eggplant that came from the garden. Eggplant is such a wonderful staple. And then, what I did earlier is just grilled this until it is charred; and what it does is, it's easy to peel, but then at the same time it gives it a wonderful flavor.
Did you always want to be a chef?
I didn't know that I wanted to be a chef growing up. It's definitely not on my top list. I wanted to be a scientist. I went to the University of the Philippines, I took up food technology. But I think the more I worked with food and I always helped my mom cook for a family of 11, it's a huge family, so everyday it's like a banquet in our house. But not thinking that's what I'm really gearing up for.
So when I was going to college, my dad actually asked me "Why don't you go to Le Cordon Bleu?"
Why should kids learn to cook?
If you really make food yourself, you could control the taste, you could control the fat that's in there, you could control the salt, you could control the sugar. And at the end of the day, it's very rewarding because it's your own hand that made it.
Be hands on, work really hard, and then really listen to your parents because they really know you more than you think. So in my experience, like what my dad was saying; at the time I just laughed at him. But actually he was very, very right, so listen to your parents and help out your mom and dad cooking in the kitchen.