Hail to Chief's chief chef


Congratulations to Cristeta Comerford, newly appointed as executive chef at the White House, following a cook—off among finalists for the position. Her baptism of fire apparently was the dinner for 134 guests she cooked in July for the visit of India's Prime Minister Singh. Given the incredibly diverse and rich culinary tradition of India, such a challenge would be daunting for any chef. The Washington Post helpfully prints the menu for that occasion. It looks not just wonderful, but also an inspired fusion of ingredients from the American and Indian kitchens.

Ms. Comerford, who is a naturalized American citizen of Filippino heritage, has plenty of tradition at her disposal, as her native land has incorporated many cuisines, from Chinese to Spanish, in its own food. American cuisine can only benefit from an infusion of Filippino influences.

Chef Comerford's appointment to this very high profile position may well signal an enhanced White House use of entertaining as a diplomatic and political tool. I have tremendous admiration for any executive chef, as it is one of the most demanding high pressure jobs imaginable. Most of the men and women in this profession are self—made, working their way up from the bottom. Leadership of a busy kitchen staff requires iron will, commanding presence, and a sure sense of what needs to be done at every moment. When your guests are heads of state, the pressure must be incredible.

A request to our media (hello, Fox News!): how about a tour of the White House kitchen, conducted by Chef Comerford, with an explanation of the way in which a state dinner is ;planned, prepared, and served? I would definitely tune in.

Thomas Lifson   8 15 05