Monday, August 20, 2012

First Lady's Menu For The Kids' State Dinner; The Decor & The Details...

Dishes are made with winning recipes from the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge using Kitchen Garden bounty, and served on Ronald Reagan State China...
First Lady Michelle Obama on Monday welcomed 54 junior chefs for the historic, first-ever Kids' State Dinner at the White House. The special guests, ages 8-12, were the winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a recipe contest created to support the Let's Move! campaign (the list of winners). They came from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and three US territories. (Above: Mrs. Obama with her guests during the dessert course)

"Is this not cool?" Mrs. Obama said as she welcomed her guests.  "Our very first Kids' State Dinner...this is so, so awesome."

Set against the backdrop of formal White House pomp and circumstance, the event for 140 guests--including the winners' parents or guardians--was a heady celebration of delicious and affordable home cooking and healthy eating, and the role children can play in literally changing the health status of an entire generation. Created by Executive Chef Cris Comerford and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, the luncheon menu used six of the winners' recipes. Tomato, zucchini, mint and melons from Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden, located at the bottom of the South Lawn, were used in the dishes.

During the salad course, President Obama dropped by the brightly decorated East Room to congratulate the kids on winning the contest. He entered and exited to cheers, and shook the hand of every one in the room. CLICK HERE for all posts about the Kids' State Dinner.

Kids' State Dinner Luncheon Menu

Kale Chips
Samuel Wohabe, age 9, New York

Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad
Haile Thomas, age 11, Arizona


Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes
Rori Coyne, age 12, Kansas

Baked Zucchini Fries
Sydney Brown, age 11, North Carolina


Strawberryanna Smoothie
Stefani Shimomura-Sakamoto, age 11, Hawaii

Summer Fruit Garland
Eva Farley, age 8, South Dakota

The kids had water on the table, served in lidded mason jar glasses with striped straws, and were also offered a choice of berry or orange juice. CLICK HERE for a downloadable book with the winning recipes [PDF]. (Above: The entree course)

The Head Table...
There were 140 guests in all, who sat at a combination of nine round tables for 10, and 4 rectangular tables for 12. Mrs. Obama's Head Table in the center of the East Room was round. She was seated with, counter clockwise form her left, Louisiana winner Michael Prados and his Grandfather Michael Prados; Alaska winner Aaron Blust and his mom Jeanne Monk; Tanya Steel, Editor-in-Chief of contest co-sponsor; Wisconsin winner Finwe Wiedenhoeft, and her mother Kristina Wiedenhoeft; and District of Columbia winner Ilianna Gonzalez-Evans and her mother Anita Gonzalez-Evans. (Above: The First Lady's place setting)

The children were served lunch on the Ronald Reagan State China, which has a red and gold rim on a cream background. Tablecloths were a natural wheat color with a bold red geometric pattern. Placed atop each Reagan charger plate was a bound recipe book, and a menu card with red lettering on a cream background. Each white linen napkin had a bead and string bow tied on, with the words 'Let's Move!' on the beads. Chairs were dark wood. (Above: The appetizer salad)

A White House video of the chefs in action in the kitchen:

Centerpieces, created by chief floral designer Laura Dowling, liberally used fruit and vegetables, mixed in with dahlias, sunflowers, marigolds and zinnias, and greens. Each large centerpiece had a dominant color scheme: Tomatoes were accompanied by deep red flowers, green apples were accompanied by green flowers, lemon and grapefruit were accompanied by yellow flowers. These were surrounded by smaller vases of flowers on each table.

The stage, set for Nickelodeon TV band Big Time Rush, with five chairs and microphones, was a red silk floor, with a backdrop of crepe paper streamers in primary colors. (Above: A platter of fried Kale)

As part of their prize, the kids received dark-blue paper goody bags on Sunday evening, with a white label with the White House logo. Each contained a dark blue apron with an image of the White House in white ink; a red oven mitt with the same image; a copy of the book of winning recipes; a paper chef hat; a $20 gift certificate form; a granola bar and a bag of white cheddar popcorn.

The First Lady's remarks:

The recipe contest entry period ran May 21-June 17. Judging took place on June 20. Per the White House, winning recipes "were selected from over 1,200 delicious entries, which were evaluated at D.C. Central Kitchen by a panel of judges that included White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass; Chef José Andrés; Marshall and Alex Reid, authors of Portion Size Me; Epicurious Editor-in-Chief Tanya Steel; and representatives from the USDA and the Department of Education," contest co-sponsors.

As part of the prize package, the kids and their adult companions were flown by Delta Airlines to the District, and the Westin Georgetown provided a one-night hotel stay. (Above: One of the yellow-themed tables)

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama