Obama’s Kitchen Cabinet


Since November, foodies have speculated as to whom the Obamas would choose as the White House chef. Some guessed the President-elect would choose Oprah’s personal chef, Art Smith, or Rick Bayless who cooks at Topolobampo, one of his favorite Chicago restaurants. The Organic Consumers Association organized a letter-writing campaign urging Obama to pick a notable organic chef like Alice Waters. Now, at last a decision has been made. And the winner is…

Cristeta Comerford. Laura Bush hired Comerford in 2005, and last Friday, Michelle Obama announced her family would be keeping her on. In a statement, the incoming first lady said “Cristeta Comerford brings such incredible talent to the White House
operation and came very highly regarded from the Bush family…Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciated our shared perspective
on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families. I look
forward to working with her in the years to come.”

While some hoped for a radical chef change from the Obamas, the news shouldn’t come as a surprise. The White House chef doesn’t typically change with administrations. Forty-six-year-old Comerford has plenty of experience. She’s been working in the White House kitchen for 13 years, starting as an assistant chef in 1993. And while a celeb chef in the White House seemed like it could be fun, many noted that wasn’t right for the job. Alice Waters herself, who had offered to help vet candidates for the position, said it was a “great relief” to not have a celeb chef coming to the White House. “I think that overshadows the idea that good food is a right, not a
privilege,” she said. “I want someone there who cares deeply about this
and understands the importance of real food.” [The Washington Post]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 12, 2009


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