Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tonight: DC School Kids Are Guest Chefs As President & First Lady Host Governors' Dinner

Chefs Move To Schools gets glam: Students from Tubman Elementary School join the White House Chefs in prepping the black tie dinner, featuring Kitchen Garden crops...
UPDATE: Click here for the full post about the Governors' Dinner.
There's another first to add to the long list of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's historic food initiatives. In keeping with Mrs. Obama's new tradition of inviting guest chefs to help prepare important dinners at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House Chefs are being joined today by some very special guest chefs as they ready the meal for this evening's glam black tie 2011 Governors' Dinner, an East Wing spokesman tells Obama Foodorama. (Above: Mrs. Obama at the dinner, toasting with Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts)

Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, and assistant chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass have adopted DC's Tubman Elementary School as their own under the First Lady's Chefs Move to Schools initiative, one of the centerpieces of the Let's Move! campaign. Some of the kids they've been working with are assisting in prepping tonight's lovely bipartisan meal, which includes harvesting winter spinach and other greens and herbs from Mrs. Obama's South Lawn Kitchen Garden. The kids will also be working on the pastry side of the kitchen, helping create dessert. The full menu is here. (Above: Yosses, left, and Kass speaking to school kids about healthy school meals)

Since last Fall, the White House Chefs have regularly visited Tubman, and have developed a special relationship with the parents, faculty and students.

"It's so much fun working with the kids," Yosses told Obama Foodorama about the work with Tubman. "It keeps you young."

The Governors' Dinner, sometimes called the Governors' Ball, is held each year as the National Governors Association convenes its Winter Meeting in Washington. The President and First Lady will welcome almost fifty of the leaders of America's states, commonwealths and territories--and their spouses/dinner companions--for tonight's affair, which will feature a performance by legendary songstress Gladys Knight as well as the Marine Corps Band. Dinner will be in the State Dining Room, with musical performances in the East Room. The menus for the 2009 and 2010 Governors' Dinners are here.

Mrs. Obama has previously invited guest chefs into the White House kitchen to cook during State Dinners,* but having guest chefs--and child guest chefs at that--in the White House kitchen is a first for any Governors' Dinner.

The Tubman students have visited the White House before, including for the Fall 2010 Harvest of the Kitchen Garden (at left, Tubman students help Mrs. Obama harvest broccoli)

Last year, Mrs. Obama gave one of her first Let's Move! speeches to the Governors during their Winter Meeting in DC, encouraging them to get involved in the national initiative. The transcript of the First Lady's Feb. 20 speech is here. More than 500 communities have now signed on to join Let's Move Cities and Towns. In July of 2010, Sam Kass gave a healthy cooking demonstration to the National Governors Association, when they were meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. He was joined onstage by Colorado's Governor Bill Ritter (D) and South Dakota's Governor Mike Rounds (R). Chefs Move To Schools now has more than 2,200 chefs and 1,700 schools enrolled.

*Chef Marcus Samuelsson was invited as guest chef for the 2009 State Dinner in honor of India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Chef Rick Bayless was the guest chef for the 2010 State Dinner in honor of Mexico's President Felipe Calderon.

*Top photo by Getty; others by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama