Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hawaii Vacation: Michelle Obama Brings Daughters, Sam Kass To MA'O Organic Farms

First Lady has pizza party reunion with Honolulu chef Ed Kenney, hails his cooking as "perfect" and "delicious"...
While President Obama was stuck in Washington on Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama was in Hawaii introducing daughters Malia and Sasha to the wonders of organic farming, Aloha style. Joined by Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, Mrs. Obama took her girls for a visit to MA'O Organic Farms in the Waianae area, according to Honolulu chef Ed Kenney, a board member for the community farm. Using fresh produce, Kenney and Kass cooked veggie-laden pizzas in a fire oven. Mrs. Obama first visited the farm in November, when she hosted a Let's Move! event there as President Obama hosted the APEC Leaders Meeting in Honolulu. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Kenney during her first visit to the farm)

"Beautiful morning @maoorganicfarms w/ the FLOTUS & her girls. Kiawe-fired pizza w/ White House chef Sam Kass," Kenney tweeted about the First Lady's visit.

The First Lady arrived on island with her daughters, Kass and other aides last Friday night for a 17-day vacation. In November, Kass and Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10, were at home in Washington when Kenney joined Mrs. Obama at the 24-acre, student-run certified organic MA'O for a tour of the crop rows and the Let's Move! round table. The chef/owner of Town and Downtown restaurants, Kenney, 43, also cooked the First Lady's special farm-to-table APEC Spouses Luncheon the next day at Kualoa Ranch, which starred produce from MA'O (more on Kenney here).

Kass routinely accompanies the First Family on their winter vacations in Hawaii and summer vacations on Martha's Vineyard. The First Family is staying in the town of Kailua, in a rented compound along the pristine beaches of Kaneohe Bay, up the street from the house they stayed in last Christmas. Extended family and Chicago friends are reported to be on island for the vacation, too. President Obama's arrival date on island has not yet been announced by the White House.

A thank you letter from Mrs. Obama...
Kenney also received a thank-you letter for the APEC Spouses Luncheon from Mrs. Obama, and he tweeted a photo of the letter, too (above). Mrs. Obama hailed the luncheon for twelve, which starred locally fished mahi mahi as well as MA'O vegetables as "delicious," "the perfect meal," and "simply perfect from start to finish."

Kenney is a bit of a history maker: His starter salad featured MA'O beets, a vegetable that Mrs. Obama once declared to be her "worst nightmare" in food.

"She ate every bite," Kenney told Obama Foodorama. The beets were prominent in the salad, which also had arugula, clementine, and pistachio, with Naked Cow Dairy feta, and poppy seed vinaigrette.

The 24-acre MA'O Organic Farms provides most of the produce for Kenney's restaurant and catering operation, as well as for other restaurants and farmers markets. It is run primarily by students who receive a stipend and college tuition for their work, in which they are trained to be agriculture experts.

"Your passion for educating our children and strengthening our understanding of where our food comes from is an inspiration, and I hope you know how much I value all you do," Mrs. Obama wrote.

The First Family has never actually visited Town, Kenney said, because its location makes it difficult to secure for a Presidential dining outing.

*Top photo by AP; second by Ed Kenney