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Who's cookin' in the White House?

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"Cristeta Comerford brings such incredible talent to the White House operation and came very highly regarded from the Bush family. Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families," said Mrs. Obama in a statement issued by the transition team. "I look forward to working with her in the years to come."

Two chefs who were thought to be under consideration for the post were Art Smith, owner of the upscale Southern comfort food restaurant Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and the new Art and Soul in Washington, and Rick Bayless, who creates inventive regional Mexican cuisine at Topolobampo in Chicago.

Perhaps Comerford will ask Mr. Smith to share his recipe for the macaroni and cheese Michelle Obama likes so much or Mr. Bayless for tips on making his Sopa Azteca (tortilla soup) and guacamole, which are popular with the first couple.

The choice of a chief cook may seem frivolous compared to challenges such as reversing the recession, creating jobs, and extricating US troops from Iraq. But with pressing food-related issues such as obesity and the pollution created by conventional farming, an influential group of foodies including Gourmet Magazine editor Ruth Reichl had hoped that the Obamas and their chef would seize this opportunity to get the nation thinking about eating local, seasonal, and organic fare and sustainably raised meat and seafood.

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