WHEN United States President George Bush met with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last June 24 at the White House, the usual formal meeting of two great leaders was inserted with a little humor.
“Madam President, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to the Oval Office. We have just had a very constructive dialogue. First, I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that — in which there’s a lot of Philippine- Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the — of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House (laughter),” said President Bush.
He was actually directly referring Cristeta “Cris” Comerford, who was named White House chef in August of 2005, after 10 years as an assistant chef in the White House kitchens. A naturalized US citizen, Comerford received her bachelor’s degree in Food Technology from the University of the Philippines and was trained in culinary arts serving as Chef Tournant at Le Ciel in Vienna, Austria; Chef at Le Grande Bistro at The Westin Hotel in Washington, DC and Chef at The Colonnade at the ANA Hotel in Washington, DC where she implemented the “Culinary Arts Gallery” which showcased the best of American fi ne cuisine.
Even before President Bush’s comments, Comerford’s culinary talent and skills has been praised by First Lady Laura Bush in a White House press release. “I am delighted that Cris Comerford has accepted the position of White House Executive Chef,” Mrs. Bush said. “Her passion for cooking can be tasted in every bite of her delicious creations.”
Before going on to other somber issues, President Bush again said, “And the chef is a great person and a really good cook, by the way, Madam President.”
He then went on to express the US’ deep condolences to the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. He also assured Arroyo that the US will send assistance and aid.
Arroyo thanked Bush for the compliment, and for the offer to send two assets the Philippines need desperately now: US Navy ships to help with ferry rescue, and rice to feed a country suffering a rice shortage.
“We’re happy to do it,” said Bush. “We want to help our friends in a time of need.”