Obama Crashes Wife’s State Dinner for Children’s Recipes

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Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

President Obama greets attendees at the first state dinner for children, held over lunchtime.

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Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

President Obama greets attendees at the first state dinner for children, held over lunchtime. Close

President Obama greets attendees at the first state dinner for children, held over lunchtime.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

First lady Michelle Obama at the first "Kids' State Dinner," for 54 children representing all U.S. states, three territories and the District of Columbia. Obama wore a Barbara Tfank dress. Close

First lady Michelle Obama at the first "Kids' State Dinner," for 54 children representing all U.S. states, three... Read More

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Band members of Big Time Rush, the boy band whose adventures are chronicled on a show on Nickelodeon, greet guests. Close

Band members of Big Time Rush, the boy band whose adventures are chronicled on a show on Nickelodeon, greet guests.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Dessert: a strawberry banana smoothie and fruit salad. Close

Dessert: a strawberry banana smoothie and fruit salad.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

A sloppy joe sandwich made from cabbage and baked zucchini fries. Close

A sloppy joe sandwich made from cabbage and baked zucchini fries.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Quinoa, black bean, and corn salads are served on White House china. Close

Quinoa, black bean, and corn salads are served on White House china.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Ellen Goldsmith and her daughter Rachel Goldsmith-Levitt, a winner of a nationwide contest for her goat cheese sandwich recipe. Close

Ellen Goldsmith and her daughter Rachel Goldsmith-Levitt, a winner of a nationwide contest for her goat cheese sandwich recipe.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Kathryn Guylay and her daughter Elena Guylay, 11, of Idaho at the White House. Elana Guylay's "Fiesta Casserole" recipe won a nationwide contest for healthy fare. Close

Kathryn Guylay and her daughter Elena Guylay, 11, of Idaho at the White House. Elana Guylay's "Fiesta Casserole"... Read More

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Marshall Reid, co-author of "Portion Size Me," and his mother, Alexandra Reid. Close

Marshall Reid, co-author of "Portion Size Me," and his mother, Alexandra Reid.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Haile Thomas, 11, won for her corn salad recipe. She said she got a hug from first lady Michelle Obama. Close

Haile Thomas, 11, won for her corn salad recipe. She said she got a hug from first lady Michelle Obama.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

The scene in the East Room of the White House at the first "Kids' State Dinner." Close

The scene in the East Room of the White House at the first "Kids' State Dinner."

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Images of sunflowers light up the East Room ceiling at the White House's first "Kids' State Dinner." Close

Images of sunflowers light up the East Room ceiling at the White House's first "Kids' State Dinner."

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Balloons add whimsy to the historic halls of the White House for the first "Kids' State Dinner." Close

Balloons add whimsy to the historic halls of the White House for the first "Kids' State Dinner."

“I had to crash the party because I did not want to miss out on all the fun,” said President Barack Obama in front of dozens of aspiring chefs in the White House yesterday.

He made a surprise visit to Michelle Obama’s first “Kids’ State Dinner” for winners of a nationwide recipe contest, the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. The event was sponsored by Epicurious.com and Let’s Move, the first lady’s campaign against child obesity.

“I’m an OK cook,” the president said, adding that his specialties included omelets and toast.

More than 1,200 children 12 and younger submitted recipes, of which 54 were selected -- for the states, D.C. and territories. Their mothers came along.

“Is this not cool?” asked Mrs. Obama, in a green Barbara Tfank dress and pearls. “This is one of the best events we’ve ever done.”

She pointed out some of the more creative recipes, such as the “Secret Service Super Salad” submitted by 9-year-old Michael Lakind of Texas, who said he wants to be an agent someday.

Ellen Goldsmith-Levitt of Massachusetts attended with her daughter, Rachel, who won for her goat-cheese sandwich. They said they enjoy making pastas and soups together. “She just came out a foodie,” the mother said.

The contest judges included Marshall Reid, 12, who co-wrote “Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthier Family” with his mother, Alexandra, also a contest judge.

“I was overweight. I was unhappy and was bullied,” he said onstage as Michelle Obama looked on.

‘Really Tall’

Haile Thomas, an 11-year-old from Arizona, whose corn salad was featured on the menu, said the first lady “is really tall. She told me to keep up the good work, and she gave me a hug. She’s so inspiring.”

Elena Guylay, 11, won for her “Fiesta Casserole,” a rice and bean dish. She wore a cowboy hat to the event in honor of her home state of Idaho.

After the children were greeted in the Grand Foyer, which was decorated in balloons and filled with tunes from the U.S. Marine Band, they were escorted into the East Room where portraits of George and Martha Washington hang. There were sunflowers, bright red tomato centerpieces. Napkin holders were “Let’s Move” bracelets.

Appetizers were kale chips and quinoa, black bean and corn salad. The main course was cabbage sloppy joes with baked zucchini fries. The dessert was a strawberry-banana smoothie and summer fruit salad.

Three Chefs

Mrs. Obama introduced the White House chefs who put the event together, Cris Comerford and Bill Yosses. She joked that she would have helped them, but couldn’t as she was having her makeup done.

The event concluded with a mini-concert by Big Time Rush, a boy band that appears on Nickelodeon, after which White House assistant chef Sam Kass took the children on a tour of the garden. He promised he would help them get a sighting of the Obamas’ dog, Bo.

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include stories on film and wine

To contact the writer on this story: Stephanie Green in Washington at sgreen57@bloomberg.net or on Twitter @stephlgreen.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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