White House chef honored by UP
Fil-Am White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford is conferred an honorary doctorate at UP Diliman.
Michael Varcas
White House chef honored by UP
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The University of the Philippines yesterday conferred an honorary doctorate degree on Filipino-American White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford.

Comerford was conferred a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, at the university’s Diliman campus in Quezon City, where she studied for two years before her family moved to the United States in 1983.

The honorary degree was for her “service that embodies the university’s ideals,” including her humanitarian work and contribution to culinary diplomacy.

“As one of the longest serving White House executive chefs in history, through three presidents, chef Comerford has successfully introduced Filipino-inspired dishes to the White House, to presidents, to the families, officials and other dignitaries,” said the university.

“Her passion and commitment to promote nutritious food and healthy eating are likewise evidenced in her work as volunteer in humanitarian missions outside the United States, including returning to the Philippines,” it added.

Comerford, who was appointed as White House executive chef in 2005, expressed gratitude to the university for the recognition, noting how her years at UP contributed to her development.

She also narrated her experiences in the Philippines prior to moving to the US, including living with her grandparents, who were farmers in Bulacan.

“For you to succeed in everything you do, you must passionately be in love in whatever it is,” she said after being conferred the degree.

“Life is the most fruitful journey in that each and every step, you breathe all the influences, you ignite the passion and you continue to use your calling,” she added.

Comerford studied Bachelor of Science in Food Technology at the UP College of Home Economics for two years before her family moved to the US.

She took a wide range of courses related to culinary arts, including food and beverage production, sanitation and quality management.

She worked in various hotels and restaurants in Chicago and Washington before she was accepted as a sous chef at the White House in 1997.

Comerford was promoted to executive chef when her mentor Stanley Schieb III retired in 2005. She is the first woman, first Asian, first minority and the first Filipino to hold the distinguished post.

She has so far served three US presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Comerford is also a member of Le Club des Chefs, an exclusive organization of 26 chefs of heads of state around the world that promotes culinary diplomacy, safeguarding of culinary traditions, as well as healthy, well-balanced gastronomy.

She has received numerous recognitions including the Gawad Pangulo Pamana ng Pilipino Award conferred by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2014 and the UP Alumni Association Presidential Award in 2013.

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