Tina Hager/White House/Reuters
08/15/2005 at 08:00 AM EDT
After an exhaustive six-month search, Cristeta Comerford has been hired as the new White House chef – the first woman ever to hold the job, it was announced from the Bushes' Crawford, Texas, ranch this weekend.
The Philippine-born Comerford, a naturalized American citizen, holds a bachelor's degree in food technology from the University of the Philippines. She worked at Le Ciel in Vienna, Austria, and was chef at Le Grande Bistro at Washington's Westin Hotel and at The Colonnade at the ANA Hotel before becoming assistant White House chef in 1995.
"She is able to do a wide array of dishes," said Susan Whitson, spokeswoman for Laura Bush. "In both their official dinners and personal menus, the president and the first lady are interested in healthy food with lots of fresh ingredients but that is also infused with a lot of flavor."
Comerford is replacing is Walter Scheib, who had been hired from the exclusive Greenbrier resort by former first lady Hillary Clinton. He left so that Mrs. Bush could set her own style, an administration official with close ties to the East Wing said. The official, who requested anonymity, also hinted at a personality clash, said Reuters.
Although Comerford will be faced with formal state dinners, she also has the everyday menus to prepare. President George W. Bush is known to enjoy cheeseburgers but the Bushes are also said to be fond of upscale Tex-Mex cooking with light, spicy accents.