Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Black History Month: B. Smith To Be Guest Chef In White House's Navy Mess

First Lady chats about the invitation during Let's Move! interview on Smith's radio show......
Chef/restaurateur B. Smith will cook at the White House's Navy Mess on Wednesday in honor of Black History Month.  The White House did not formally announce the invitation, but First Lady Michelle Obama touted it as she did a Let's Move!-themed interview with Smith on her SiriusXM radio show on Tuesday, ahead of the upcoming three-state third anniversary tour.  Smith specializes in Cajun, Creole and Southern food, and owns three restaurants, including two in New York and B. Smith’s at Union Station in Washington, DC.  Above, a photo compilation Smith tweeted promoting Mrs. Obama's radio interview.

"We are so excited," Mrs. Obama said.  "As part of Black History Month--you are going to be the guest chef in the White House mess on Wednesday, February 27. That means you're going to be cooking for all the staff."

"We’ve got people buzzing around here…they can’t wait to get their fingers and lips on some of your food."

Smith said she'll be cooking a menu "that expresses" Black History Month:  "It’s going to be soulful, and healthy."

"And that’s the point," Mrs. Obama responded.  "We can do both. I think that health doesn’t mean no taste, and that’s what we have to communicate in our communities, that there’s a way to do all of that foods we love and that we’ve grown up with [by] changing preparations and adding different seasonings. We can still celebrate the foods that we love but do it in a way that nourishes our bodies and gives us the strength to keep making that history."

Mrs. Obama will miss Smith's star-turn at the White House: She will be in Clinton, Mississippi on Tuesday, for the her first stop on the Let's Move! tour.  The Navy Mess was established in 1951, and feeds Administration Officials and White House staff.  Cabinet Secretaries can make reservations to eat in the small dining room, but West and East Wing staff are served takeout.  The Obamas have invited other chefs to take a guest turn in the Navy Mess, including Guy Fieri.  

The released transcript of the First Lady and Smith's Let's Move! discussion included details about her Let's Move! tour, whether or not the First Daughters cook in the White House kitchen, and healthy eating advice for parents.

B. Smith: "This month marks the third anniversary of your Let’s Move! initiative.  Congratulations on that. That is so important."

Michelle Obama: “Thank you.  We are excited every day, but we really try to take the time on the anniversary to really take a step back, look at where we have come because we still have work to do.

We’re still dealing with one in three kids in this country that are overweight or obese. We’re seeing issues with getting our kids physically fit.  On average kids are spending 7 ½ hours every day in front of a screen. You know, kids aren’t getting the daily exercise they need. They should be getting at least 60 minutes a day but in our average schools there are fewer than 10% of our schools, public schools, where kids are getting daily PE or recess.  So we can see why we’re here but, there’s hope and we’re starting to see that.  

We’re starting to see some shifts in the trend lines and the data where we’re starting to show some improvement because we’ve been spending a lot of time educating and re-educating families and kids on how to eat, what to eat, how much exercise to get and how to do it in a way that that doesn’t completely disrupt someone’s life…but finding ways to do these things incrementally, and particularly for our kids small changes can make an absolute difference.

We’re going to spend two days on the road celebrating “Let’s Move!” and we’re going to the in Chicago highlighting a new initiative around physical activity in the public schools.  We’re going to spend a little time in Mississippi, which just three years ago was considered one of the most unhealthy states in the Union but they have since seen a 13% decline in childhood obesity rates in that state.

So, we’re going to be traveling highlighting some of these successes and really encouraging people to do the work, celebrating companies like Wal-Mart that are finding ways to make the healthier choices, the more affordable choices. They are locating more and more stores in underserved communities so that people in poorer areas have access to fresh fruit and produce…so, we’re excited about that.”
B. Smith: “Getting the family involved with making these meals is also important and learning how to make healthy choices. That’s really important. Do you with Sasha and Malia ever have a chance to get in the kitchen and make a meal?”

Michelle Obama: “Not as much as we used to when we lived in Chicago.  But before we came to the White House, that was one of the shifts I had to make as a busy mother, you know. Really cleaning our shelves, getting rid of the heavily processed foods, getting more fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh-squeezed juices in, getting them more involved in going to farmers markets and understanding where these fruits and vegetables are coming from. And that was one of the reasons I was motivated to plant the White House kitchen garden. Because I saw how much the difference it makes for kids when they are involved in the planting and the harvesting and the purchasing and the preparation of the foods they eat.  It really fundamentally changes their approach to what they eat and what they’ll be willing to eat.”
B. Smith: “I’ve always said that if more kids were taught to use kitchen utensils and gardening utensils they would be less likely to use guns and knives against each other. Everybody needs…healthy food and I think it is important that all of us are on the bandwagon of trying to bring our kids up and to bring our communities up…we’ve worked with the Prince George’s County [Maryland] kids….and it’s so rewarding just to see them understanding that growing things makes a big difference. It’s not like walking into a store and having a piece of candy—you’ve got real food that they’re eating.”

Michelle Obama:  “That’s absolutely true.  And what we know is that what goes in to our children’s bodies, how they move their bodies directly affects how healthy their minds are… health, obesity rates, good nutrition— these aren’t ancillary issues. It has a direct impact on our kids’ ability to achieve in school. We know that that kids that have daily, physical activity are more focused when they get into the classroom. They can concentrate better, they get better test scores. The same thing is true when they get a healthy, nutritious balanced breakfast and lunch. 

We know what an impact that makes on their test scores and a whole range of academic achievements. So this is a big issue for this country to get ourselves on track with regards to our children’s health, and in order to do that we have to be healthy…as the parents in the household…

Let’s Move! is targeted to kids, but ultimately it’s a family and it’s a community issue because our kids don’t do the grocery shopping. No matter how much they help in the kitchen, they can’t start the meal and prepare it from start to scratch. So they’re looking to us to give them good guidance.”


Smith's show with her husband Dan Gasby is the "The B. Smith and ‘Thank You Dan’ Show," and is on SiriusXM Urban View, channel 128.  The interview with Mrs. Obama will replay on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 3:00 PM ET. 

CLICK HERE for all posts about the third anniversary of Let's Move!.  CLICK HERE for all Let's Move! posts.

*Photo via B. Smith