Meet Cris, an executive chef. Learn her responsibilities as the White House Chef and how she got started.
My name is Cris Comerford; I'm the White House Executive Chef.
Responsibilities as a chef
My main responsibility as the Executive Chef of the White House is taking care of the First Family, foremost and all. Just their daily meals, and of course if they have any social functions or state dinners or any kind of entertaining, we take care of everything in the kitchen.
Definitely, it's high pressure because first and foremost, it's for the President of the United States, so and also, of course, the visiting countries and the visiting Heads of State because you want to respect their traditions, you want to respect their protocol dietary restrictions. So there is a lot of things to learn.
The White House Garden
We have harvested so much in that little garden, and in a span of 2½ years, there are 300 at least pounds of produce that we have harvested throughout the years.
These are actual Italian eggplant that came from the garden. Eggplant is such a wonderful staple. And then, what I did earlier is just grilled this until it is charred; and what it does is, it's easy to peel, but then at the same time it gives it a wonderful flavor.
Did you always want to be a chef?
I didn't know that I wanted to be a chef growing up. It's definitely not on my top list. I wanted to be a scientist. I went to the University of the Philippines, I took up food technology. But I think the more I worked with food and I always helped my mom cook for a family of 11, it's a huge family, so every day it's like a banquet in our house. But not thinking that's what I'm really gearing up for.
So when I was going to college, my dad actually asked me "Why don't you go to Le Cordon Bleu?"
Why should kids learn to cook?
If you really make food yourself, you could control the taste, you could control the fat that's in there, you could control the salt, you could control the sugar. And at the end of the day, it's very rewarding because it's your own hand that made it.
Be hands on, work really hard, and then really listen to your parents because they really know you more than you think. So in my experience, like what my dad was saying; at the time I just laughed at him. But actually he was very, very right, so listen to your parents and help out your mom and dad cooking in the kitchen.
Our agency [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] usually sticks with Labs, German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois. They usually have a higher drive and they're more motivated to work.
We do a 12 weeks training with them. During that 12 weeks, we'll introduce them to a lot of different environments [locations]. We start training them on the illegal drug odors and once they get really well, good at that, we bring in the handlers [officer that directs the dog]. We team them up with certain dogs on personalities and where they're going [where the dog will be working]. And then for another 7 weeks, they train with that team handler. After that, once their 12 week is over, they'll go out into the, all across the nation into the workforce.
What's your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part is when my dog does find illegal drugs. It makes all our practice and hard work that we put into it pay off.
Any tips for training dogs?
My #1 tip would be to be consistent. For example, when you're trying to play a sport like baseball, you gotta do a lot of practicing to get better. And the same thing with your dog; he needs a lot of practice and encouragement [praise] to get better.
I would have to say the easiest thing in training a dog with would be verbal praise [let the dogs know they're doing something right] and then a reward system. That could go anywhere from a plastic pipe to a rubber hose. The praise, it just stimulates [energizes] them. Every dog works for it; they want to make their owners happy. So they work hard for that.
Meet Gabriel, an officer that protects wildlife for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Learn about his tools and what he does on patrol.
We see wildlife [wild animals] all around us, you know, all the time and they see us. You come outside and you might see some deer or even a box turtle out by the lake. You might look up in the sky and see an eagle or osprey. All of these things need to be protected.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our primary purpose [is] to conserve, protect the habitat for wildlife. We have to have the type of law enforcement [making sure people obey the law], you know, to go about regulating [maintaining] those rules.
What's your day like?
This is my office. Coming outside every day, you know, breathing this fresh air. I live on the refuge, I come outside. I take a little lap around just to see what's going on. And then I can deal with anything from helping with a fishing group, kids that come on the refuge [that] want to learn about fishing, archery, different things like that, hunting.
What do you do on patrol?
When I go out on a patrol, it can be anything from a vehicle patrol to a foot patrol. On foot patrols, like I said, going out into the refuge, different areas of the woods; also different bike paths. Just seeing what's going on. You know, introducing myself to different visitors, making sure they're safe, making sure they're not lost. Checking hunters as well as fisherman.
And on a vehicle patrol, just making sure that everybody is going the correct speed limit out there. I mean we have specific speed limits to make sure that no one hits wildlife.
What equipment do you use most for your job?
I have my trusty GPS that I can just clip on me and I can make sure that I get back to the, to my truck when I need to. 13,000 acres is a lot of woods. You know you do a few turns around and you don't know where you're heading.
There was one time when I went off. I was looking for a hunter and I couldn't find him and I also couldn't find my way back. You know so the moral of the story is to always be prepared. Come with the compass, come with a GPS and I routinely, now make sure I have a compass or GPS on me when I'm doing my different patrols, You know, just so I can make sure that I'm not the one that's lost.
What other tools do you use?
There's 13,000 acres at Patuxent Research Refuge, so I can't be everywhere. So I have these cameras set up. These are hunt cams where I can set up on [in] different areas of the border and I can see what's going on. And they can be my eyes when I'm not around.
Captain Pete, Marine pilot, talks about his job, the Osprey aircraft and how to prepare for a mission.
Captain Pete Benning, Pilot, U.S. Marine Corps:
You know there's no better feeling that being up in the air and being able to take your airplane and go wherever you need to go. It is one of the greatest jobs that you could have. It is thoroughly rewarding.
I wanted to become a pilot because my dad's a pilot and I wanted to be in the military. I wanted to serve my country and it's really cool.
Narrator: Captain Benning flies the Osprey, a Tiltrotor aircraft. It's both a plane and a helicopter. You can move the propellers from a down position, like an airplane, or you can move them up, like a helicopter.
There's two sets of controls in the aircraft, so either pilot can fly. You have your screens here, which pass you all your flight information, altitude [how high in the air you are], air, speed. The screen in the middle here that kind of helps you with navigation [process of finding your way to get to a place] and monitors your systems that are on your aircraft. Let’s you know how your engines are running and how much fuel you have.
What do you like about your job?
So the part I like most about my job is that it's very fluid. There’s something always happening; there's something always changing. There’s always a new mission [important assignment or task]; there's always a new flight to go on. In the last couple of months, I've been to San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Normandy, France.
How do you prepare for a mission?
There's a lot of young marines that maintain these airplanes. They do all of the maintenance on these planes. They fuel them, they make sure they’re all serviced correctly and they’re ready for us to go fly. And they do a fantastic job.
For a successful mission, [it] actually starts way before that, days to weeks prior. All the marines I was talking about, they start getting the aircraft ready. They start packing everything up and getting ready to get on board airplanes, to move to a site location [place you are traveling to] or getting the aircraft prepared to fly to that site location and as in most jobs a lot of it is in the preparation.
What does it take to be a pilot?
Pay attention in all your math classes. In the cockpit [front of the aircraft] you're always figuring things out, distances, fuels. Eye-hand coordination [control of eye movement with hand movement] some, but if you pay attention in school, listen to your teachers, listen to your parents, anybody can be a pilot. It just takes discipline and work and passion, drive.