Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Michelle Obama Tops Huffington Post's "Game Changers In Food" List

Three chefs on White House A-list also named to HuffPo honor roll
Huffington Post
has created The Game Changer Series, a list of 100 innovators, visionaries, and leaders in twelve categories who "whether working in the spotlight or under the radar, are changing how we look at the world and the way we live in it." In the Food category, First Lady Michelle Obama tops the list of eleven Game Changers, and she's joined by Michel Nischan, Tom Colicchio, and Marcus Samuelsson, three chefs who are very involved with White House food initiatives. The list is also a competition: Voting is now open to select the "ultimate" Game Changer in Food. Results will be announced in October. (Above: Mrs. Obama in the Kitchen Garden)

Mrs. Obama's "Game Changer" entry reads:

Changed the game by ... taking command of the nation’s war on childhood obesity. The First Lady’s commitment to the health of our children is as well-rounded as it is realistic, embracing both smarter eating and physical exercise. Practicing what she preaches, Obama demonstrated the joys of locally-grown produce by planting the first organic garden on White House grounds. And, knowing that having the message be heard is as critical as the message itself, the First Lady even made an appearance as a judge on “Iron Chef America.”

She said it: The obesity epidemic “isn't the kind of problem that can be solved in one year, or even one administration. But make no mistake about it, this problem can be solved.”

Must-click link:

That's a very nice shout out (although see the note at bottom of this post; there are two factual inaccuracies). Chefs Colicchio, Samuelsson, and Nischan are all authors, child nutrition activists, and restaurant owners, in addition to being food visionaries. All have joined Let's Move!, and have been working on the Chefs Move to Schools project. They've served as ad hoc advisers for the White House, as well as toiled to promote the initiative. There are now more than 1,800 chefs and 1,300 schools enrolled.

Nischan is founder and CEO of the Wholesome Wave Foundation; his work has served as one of the models for Chefs Move to Schools. He's twice written movingly about the initiative for The Atlantic magazine. (Above: Nischan, in yellow, with Kass in the Kitchen Garden during the launch of Chefs Move to Schools)

Colicchio, host of the wildly popular (and now Emmy award winning) Top Chef, recently devoted an entire hour of the show to Let's Move!. Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass was featured as a guest judge on the school lunch episode, and there was much on-air discussion of child nutrition legislation. Colicchio further showed his commitment to the campaign by testifying before the House Education & Labor Committee in support of the legislation.

Samuelsson, along with celeb chef Rachael Ray, now stars in a White House video about Chefs Move (above). HuffPo writes about Samuelsson:

Key kudos: When President Obama threw his first state dinner last November for the visiting Indian Prime Minister, he chose Samuelsson to act as guest chef.

Actually, as America's First Hostess, Mrs. Obama selected Samuelsson. His vegetable-based menu showed that the First Lady is entirely serious about her good food campaign--even when welcoming world leaders to the White House. Go here to read about HuffPo's other honorees for Game Changers in food; voting is now open.

*For the record, Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden ISN'T certified organic, and the First Lady WASNT wasn't a judge on Iron Chef America. She made a cameo on the show, to introduce the cooking challenge to the chefs. Executive Chef Cris Comerford competed in partnership with chef Bobby Flay--and they won.

The White House in other Game Changer categories
The other Game Changer categories are Politics, Entertainment, Style, Technology, Business, Travel, Green, Sports, Education, Media and Impact. There are plenty of White House names on those lists, too. For instance, in Education, Dr. Jill Biden is #1. In Politics, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is a contender; he's been honored by the First Lady for his efforts to make his city essentially a model for Let's Move! goals. Elizabeth Warren is in the category, too. In Entertainment, there's actor Kal Penn, who traded his Hollywood career to work at the White House, and musician, tireless Obama campaigner, gets a nod, too. In Style, one "group" entry is young designers, and it features Prabal Gurung, Jason Wu, and Kate and Laura Mulleavy. Mrs. Obama has worn each of their designs multiple times; Wu designed her Inauguration ballgown.

*Photos by Obama Foodorama. White House video.