-By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Washington DC–With Filipina executive chef Cristeta Comerford at the helm, dining at the White House takes on dashes of Filipino flavor.

She has been White House chef since the administration of President George W. Bush in 2005.

She whipped up the menu for President Barack Obama’s inauguration dinner, and will continue as the commander-in-chief’s chef de cuisine as he starts his second term in office.

“We’re going to make sure that he gets fed and that he gets fed well,” she said.

Comerford says the Obamas are open to try new cuisine.

She uses fresh ingredients grown from the White House garden,
and flavors them Filipino style.

“There’s one thing you can’t take away from me. I’m Filipino at heart, I was born in the Philippines,” Comerford said. “It’s always in me, no matter what I cook, how I cook, there’s always something Filipino in there.”

Comerford is only too glad to bring her ethnic background to her cooking, inspired by Obama’s statement that America is a country where anyone can make it if they’re willing to try—a message that resonates with her life story.

“I came from the streets of Sampaloc (in Manila). Never would I have thought that years down the road, I’ll be here doing a work that’s very important.”

Obama’s very-Hawaiian inauguration menu will include Mahi-mahi ceviche with jalapeños and coconut, seared salmon on baby spinach with red potatoes (in line with Michelle’s fight against American obesity), and pineapple upside-down cake.

Maybe Comerford will be splashing a little patis in that ceviche.

-With a report from

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