If you saw my pictorial yesterday of my trip to the White House earlier this week, you know I spent time in the White House kitchen with Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford (pictured above with me).

I was thrilled to get an inside look at the smaller-than-expected kitchen and to get some tips on cooking, following the MyPlate guidelines, and how the first family is fed by Chef Comerford (or Cris, as those in the White House call her).


She answered questions from my group as she prepared a meal that met MyPlate guidelines — a whole-wheat pita pocket stuffed with a small amount of grilled chicken breast meat, lots of fresh vegetables, a little sliced apple, and some hummus and yogurt. She was demonstrating how the plate doesn’t literally have to be filled with half fruits and vegetables physically separated from the protein and grains.


Here are a few things I learned while listening to Comerford, and I thought I’d share my new knowledge with you.


  1. When you chop up lettuce before you wash them, you lose some of the vitamins because they get washed away. Comerford says that when you wash them whole, you’ll have a more nutritious lettuce.
  2. Chickpeas can be counted as the protein or a vegetable on your plate. Hummus spread on a sandwich is a great way to adhere to the MyPlate guidelines.
  3. The prep for most of the first family’s meals is done in the main White House kitchen, and the prepped food is taken into the kitchen in the family’s quarters and cooked and served there.
  4. When planning a menu for state dinners, the chefs give their guests a taste of America’s best foods while giving a nod to the culture of the guests. For example, when the guests are Korean, they will remember that the Korean culture appreciates fermented foods and marry what’s in season with that cooking technique.
  5. To keep sliced apples from going brown in a lunch box (or anywhere else), dissolve some Vitamin C powder in a cup of water and then swish the apple slices in it. Comerford has a 10-year-old daughter who, like most kids, won’t touch an apple with brown on it, so she knows this trick well.

Do you have any questions for me about my trip to the White House? I’d be happy to answer them.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

5 things I learned from Cristeta Comerford
MNN's food blogger gets an up-close cooking demonstration from White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford (in the White House kitchen) and learns a few thing