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For the White House chef, serving homegrown vegetables straight from the garden is just like preparing food in her native Philippines — healthy and simple.
Filipino-American Cristeta Pasia-Comerford, the first woman and first minority to serve as the executive chef in the White House, credited the first lady for making sure her family eats steamed, organic vegetables from the garden Michelle Obama planted in April.
"Mrs. Obama is a very hands-on person when it comes ... to knowing healthy meals for the family," Comerford told a news conference Monday in Manila.
She is one of three to be honored this year by the Bank of the Philippines as an outstanding Filipino overseas. The honor will be formally awarded on Tuesday.
The naturalized American said that picking food from the garden reminds her of summers spent at her grandmother's house in the Philippines' Bulacan province.
"They like simple meals, they like simple food," she said of the first family.
The first lady had said earlier that she and Comerford shared a "perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families."
The chef refused to answer specific questions about the Obamas' favorite foods and eating habits.
Comerford, who also served under former President George W. Bush, studied French cooking in Vienna, Austria, and specializes in ethnic and American cuisine.