If there’s one female chef in the U.S. who has been getting international attention, it has to be White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford. This woman is so down to earth but is very skilled she always stands out wherever she goes. In fact, she has achieved several firsts in her career as a chef.

Born in the Philippines, Cris as she’s often called majored in Food Technology at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. She went to the U.S. at the age of 23 and landed her first job at the Sheraton Hotel. Since then, Cris has held a number of positions but being the White House executive chef is the most challenging job she’s had, so far.

Comerford is the first female to hold the White House executive chef position. She is also the first chef of ethnic minority origin in the U.S. holding this post.

It was in 1995 when Comerford was recruited to the White House during the administration of Bill Clinton. She held the post of executive chef after being appointed by then First Lady Laura Bush 10 years after in 2005. Bush apparently was impressed with how Cris handled a large dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Outside of the White House, this Filipina chef is the only female in the Club des Chefs des Chef, considered the world’s most elite group of cuisinaires. This prestigious club with 40 members celebrated last month the 50th anniversary of the German-French post-war reconciliation with a week-long meeting in Berlin, Germany with Cris Comerford in attendance.

Founded in 1977 by Gilles Bragard, Club des Chefs des Chefs is an elite culinary fraternity whose members work for heads of state and royal families. Each year, the members tour a different member country to explore local cuisine, visit farmer’s markets and prepare meals for heads of state. This year marks the group’s 35th anniversary and apart from Germany, the members visited Paris, France as well.

Photo via politico.com

Chef John Ash

A lot of cooks would agree that the use of wine in some meals have added a certain spice in making them sought after. Such can be attributed towards the contributions of Chef John Ash, an internationally recognized chef, educator and author. His continued work and application of wine towards cuisine and his evident mastery for winery has been his obvious trademark that has brought him towards world wide prominence.

John is known to hold various classes and teaches culinary schools and institutions with regards to the tricks of the proper use of wine for culinary meals. Majority of his known reliability has been attributed towards the wine industry and such has been something that has continued to push him up towards fame and fortune.

He has published two books, namely American Game Cooking in 1991 and From the Earth to the Table: John Ash’s Wine Country Cuisine in 1996. The latter book was awarded the Julia Child Award for Best Cookbook in 1996 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

20090107_tedallen_250x375If you have to ask who Ted Allen is, then I think you may not be following your celebrity chef world as much as you should! Or maybe you’re new to this world…in any case, take a quick look at that photo and you should instantly recognize the face behind the name. I suppose the most common association would be Iron Chef America, for Ted Allen has been appearing as a judge regularly on that show.

So who is Ted Allen? How did he become famous? What does he do?

As I mentioned, he is a regular in Iron Chef America, but he actually started out as one of the guys in Queer Eye for a Straight Guy. He’s also made regular appearances in Top Chef. His career has skyrocketed like a firecracker on the 4th of July and he has now two shows on The Food Network: Food Detective and Chopped.

More than his busy schedule on the boob tube, Ted Allen also has his hands full with writing gigs. He has been contributing to the magazine Esquire. He used to be a food critic and editor.

He does have a lot on his plate, and he has degrees to back everything up too! He has a Bachelors in Psychology (Purdue University) PLUS a Masters in Journalism (New York University). Ted Allen is not just your run-of-the-mill food critic or cooking show judge – he adds a plus factor to everything he touches. For more of Ted Allen, watch out for those shows I mentioned above.

When I first saw Alton Brown‘s show, “Good Eats” some years ago, he didn’t strike me as a chef, and had as much “celeb” in him as that fish you see on the picture above. Bespectacled and always clad in those Florida-esque loose short-sleeved shirts, Alton may not have the silkiness of Wolfgang or the pukka charm of Jamie, but his shows are by far the most interesting and well-informed.

In fact, Alton Brown won’t just give you the recipes to the typical yummy-looking dishes, you’ll learn about the ingredients, the alchemy and the cookware used too. Top that off with a little history, more trivia and Alton’s dry sense of humour, and you’ve got one great show, uniquely Alton Brown’s.

Alton started off as a cinematographer and video director (which you can see through the unique way his shows are shot and edited), but decided to pursue his real passion (food!), when he saw the lack of “good” cooking shows on television at the time. Remember the video of REM‘s “The One I Love“? Alton was the director of photography.

He enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute to learn the fundamentals of cooking, finishing in 1997. In July of 1998, the pilot of Good Eats made its debut, and has been going steadily strong to this day, most popularly known for its quirky references to pop culture, where Alton dresses up and makes us giggle, while making some very good points on food and cookware too.

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jason atherton

Jason Atherton may not have the boyish good looks of Jamie Oliver, but boy does he know how to run a kitchen. He is the one Michelin-starred executive chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant (and anyone who can survive Gordon Ramsay’s scrutiny has got to have both talent and balls).

He was also the first British chef to complete an internship at Spain’s famous El Bulli restaurant, under Ferran Adrià. Though he’s too busy in the kitchen to have a show, he cooked the winning starter and main course in the 2008 series of Great British Menu on BBC Two, representing London and the South-east.

The young Martha Stewart

How well do you think you know Martha Stewart? Find her unusual taste in wall decor, her two alternative careers, and the awards she received that had nothing to do with cooking.

1. Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray hate each other, thanks to a heated feud that started in 2006. Rumor has it that Rachael hung a sign on her door that says: “Martha doesn’t live here.”

2. Martha collects taxidermied animals.

3. Martha set the Guiness record for most number of people with the same name in the same room, thanks to an episode in her show when she invited hundreds of “other Marthas” .

4. Though she can perfectly pair her wine with her dish, her favorite drink is a vodka martini.

5. People magazine named Martha one of “50’s Most Beautiful Women” in 1996. Not her first magazine award: she was one of Glamour’s “Best Dressed College Girls of 1961.” (She begun modeling in high school to put herself through college.) She graduated from Barnard.

6. If she didn’t start her media empire, Martha would’ve made a fortune in Wall Sreet. She was one of the first female stock brokers, getting her license in 1968.

07_2005_rachaelray.jpg

In this day and age, many of us do not know how to cook. Quite a few are afraid to do so because they don’t have any experience or background in it. Even if we buy a cookbook or watch these great chefs on TV, we just don’t seem to get the hang of it.

This is where Rachael Ray came in. She is not a formally trained chef. She has taken no cooking courses. She just loves food and isn’t afraid to try something new in the kitchen. Add to it her perky personality, or as she puts it goofy personality, and she had people willing to give cooking a chance.

Rachael learned to cook the old fashioned way, from watching her mom cook. Her family owned a restaurant in Cape Cod. Later her mom managed restaurants in upstate New York. At home, she enjoyed the flavors of Italy and Louisiana.

Rachael began her career at the Candy Counter in Macy’s New York. She then became the manager of the fresh foods department. After Macy’s she helped open the gourmet market place Agata and Valentina, serving as both buyer and manager.

It wasn’t unitl she moved upstate that Rachel’s destiny began to shape up. She was recruited by Cowan and Label to be their food buyer. While she was there, Rachael decided to hold some cooking classes as a way to increase the christmas sales. Her 30 Minute Meal classes became so popular they caught the attention of the media.

An Albany TV station then asked her to do a weekly 30 minute meal segment as part of the evening news. The show was nominated for 2 regional Emmy awards and Rachael’s first cookbook, a companion to the show, was released selling 10,000 copies.

Now, she hosts 4 shows on the food network: 30 Minute Meals, $40 a Day, Inside Dish and Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels. She has also signed a contract with Oprah Winfrey and King World Productions to launch her own syndicated talk show, Rachael Ray, beginning September 18, 2006.

She has authored several cookbooks following her 30 minute meal concept and has her own magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray. She has also developed her own line of cookware and cutlery.

Jeff SmithWith a dozen best-selling cookbooks tucked under his belt, Jeff Smith, is best known for hosting the popular American cooking show that began in Washington. The show was aired in PBS from 1988 to 1997.

Smith was a United Methodist who graduated at the University of Puget Sound in 1962 and Drew University in 1965. His first run at food ventures was the Chaplain’s Pantry where he held cooking classes to the public and stored deli and kitchen supplies as well.

Being in the celebrity status that he is in the world of cooking, Smith has had his share of controversies as well. Legal issues concerning sexual harassment in the 70s were just some of the trials that Smith had to go through.

Known to be the food genius that he is, Smith has authored several books under his wing including The Frugal Gourmet (1984), The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine (1986), The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American (1987) and The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece, and Rome (1989).

Chef Ann has an incredible and impressive list of achievements and credentials in the course of her culinary career. Among these accomplishments include that of Chef of the Year awards and winning national American Culinary Federation awards.

Chef Ann Cooper

Chef Ann Cooper works as an industry services consultant for the Culinary Institute of America, a corporate chef and as a consultant to various restaurant and hotels located around New England. Ann was among the first 50 women to be certified as an executive chef by the educational arm of the American Culinary Federation.

Chef Anne has also published a book titled “A Woman’s Place in the Kitchen” that narrates the vision of women and their role around the kitchen. It contains both traditional and innovative approaches that women have had in the field of cooking. She also authored another book, “The Sustainable Kitchen” that will surely make the grade and be a hot commodity among aspiring chefs of today.

nobuyuki_matsuhisa.jpgAmong the many chefs and celebrity chefs that abound, Matsuhisa Nobuyuki is a celebrity among his peers. He is a true treasure – a fantastic chef and true artist.

Chef Matsuhisa began as a Shinjuku Sushi Chef in Japan. A customer invited him to open a restaurant in Peru and the chef took the risk. He later decided to give up Peru and move to Alaska were misfortune caused his restaurant to burn after a mere 50 days. Not one to give up easily, Chef Matsuhisa opened another restaurant. California was his chosen venue this time and the first Matsuhisa was born.

Currently, Chef Matsuhisa has 17 restaurants spread out across the world. They can be found in California, Colorado, London, Milan, New York, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Greece and Hong Kong. Each Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurant has wonderful food made from the heart and excellent service – factors that are a requirement for this chef.

Chef Matsuhisa is a very unassuming person. He doesn’t grandstand but he is considered by many the master of Nouveau Nipponese food. If you love Japanese food, you will definitely want to go to the nearest Nobu or Matsuhisa. Be sure to make your reservations as early as possible.