THE University of the Philippines is set to confer upon White House Executive Chef Cristeta Pasia Comerford the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, on November 11, 10 a.m., at Ang Bahay ng Alumni, UP Diliman.
The conferment will be led by Commission on Higher Education and UP Board of Regents Chairperson Prospero E. de Vera III, and UP President Danilo L. Concepcion, after which the honoree will deliver a lecture.
Comerford has been a chef at the White House since 1997. She was recruited by then Executive Chef Walter Stanley Scheib III to be his sous chef. In 2005, she was promoted to Executive Chef by former First Lady Laura Bush in an announcement that made big news, following a selection process that lasted six months with 450 aspiring candidates.
She is the first woman and the first chef of Asian descent to occupy the prestigious post.
Her appointment has made her a member of Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, an exclusive organization of 26 chefs of heads of state around the world. It promotes culinary diplomacy, the safeguarding of culinary traditions, and healthy, well-balanced gastronomy.
Comerford has served as consultant and resource person to US government agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of State, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Her position, as well as her advocacy for healthy eating, has led her to become the subject of press interviews, a guest in many talk shows, a keynote speaker at conferences, and a lecturer-presenter in workshops and panels across the U.S.
She received the Gawad ng Pangulo Pamana ng Pilipino Award in 2014, one of the three Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas. It is awarded to individuals who, “in exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino, have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession”. Throughout her career, she has been honored by various organizations for her achievements as a chef and a Filipino-American.
Before migrating to the U.S. with her family in 1983, Comerford was a BS Food Technology major in UP Diliman. In 2013, the centennial year of the UP Alumni Association (UPAA), she received the UPAA Presidential Award. In September of this year, she was named by UPAA in America as one of the University’s distinguished alumni.