2005/08/12

White House Chef: Close to the Bone?


By JULIETTE ROSSANT

[NB: Be sure to read update:
Cristeta Comerford: First White House Woman Chef
-- The Editor -- August 14, 2005.]


Mel Gibson from The Year of Living Dangerously

The Summer has turned from somewhat mild to searingly hot -- as have inquiries suddenly pouring into superchefblog about the White House executive chef position, including venerable newspapers like The Washington Post and The New York Times. Tight-lipped White House sources don't leak (yet) to superhchefblog the way they sometimes do to such elders (remember the scene in The Year of Living Dangerously when Mel Gibson first tries to get a story at the Presidential Palace?). Nevertheless, experience whispers that some kind of decision may have been reached.

Who has been selected, after such a suprisingly long process?

Superchefblog bets on two candidates: Richard Hamilton and Cris Comerford.

Why them?, you ask.

Richard HamiltonRichard has been a front-runner for the job for some time. He has excellent culinary credentials. He has political support from Republican heavyweights (Democrats aren't the only people who know where to eat -- or how). And he's just about as close to being a Texan as you can get, hailing from Oklahoma as he does. The White House would be lucky to have such a fine chef on board.

Cris ComerfordCris has been one of superchefblog's top picks ever since our nationwide online readers' poll last March-April. On the polling page (dated March 25, 2003), we said:
Keep in mind that Cris Comerford [...] is already in-house: the naturalized Filipina is currently Assistant White House Chef, reporting to the Executive Chef... One would hope that the White House would give her strong consideration and reward her previous service with advancement -- also that the White House would in fact hire from within first before looking outside.
We stand by those words -- and Richard has said, professionally, that she is ready for the job. Moreover, Cris has a very electorate-appealing minority story: she is a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Phillipines, a fact proudly acknowledged by our government as well as her own. Add the fact that Cris is a woman, and the White House could score several politically correct points all at once by choosing her. Smart money is on Cris, then.

How does the White House make its shortlist?

Louise LamensdorfWhile many candidates on superchefblog's poll were too politically incorrect for this Administration's tastes, certainly third runner-up Louise Lamensdorf qualifiies in every respect for the job: excellent chef, Republican, and Texas-based thanks to her popular Ft. Worth institution Bistro Louise. That last factor should have put her over the top months ago, but, surprisingly, she never even got a call. Also, Institutions which contributed candidate lists have also been shut out of the decision-making process, include culinary schools like the French Culinary Institute and associations like Women Chefs and Restaurateurs. In short, to quote Geoffrey Rush's character Philip Henslowe from Shakespeare in Love, "I don't know. It's a mystery." Of course, the whole Iraq War has been a mystery (except for the insurgency part -- see "The Sunni Insurgency in Iraq"), and that's not going too well. OK, the whole "war thing" is a really tough nut to crack. And choosing the next Supreme Court justice will affect the lives of many Americans for decades to come. And then there's that herculean task of choosing the right chef... Maybe it all comes down to the possibility that Mrs. Bush simply makes more careful choices...

When will the announcement come?

From all the recent hullabaloo, next week would not be too early -- but superchefblog expects an announcement when the Bushes return from their vacation at their Crawford, Texas, home after Labor Day on September 5, 2005.

It ain't over yet: stay tuned.

Previous articles:
White House CHEFGATE: Richard Hamilton's Story
Tell Laura Bush: White House Woman Chef
Results: White House Woman Chef
Shortlisting White House Chefs?
Vote for White House Woman Chef
Results of White House Chef Vote
Vote for White House Guest Chefs
Wanted: White House Chef

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