First Lady Michelle Obama gives a special on-air message as Food Network's kids' cook-off makes its debut...
Washington, DC - First Lady Michelle Obama has made good use of celebrities to promote the Let's Move! campaign, and now she has a hand in creating star power, too. 12-year-old Haile Thomas, a winner of the 2012 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, is one of eight child chefs starring on Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri's new Food Network show "Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off," scheduled to premiere on Sunday. (Above, Mrs. Obama and Thomas, in white, at the 2012 Kids State Dinner)
Mrs. Obama will give the dueling junior chefs a "special message" when the show debuts at 8:00 PM/7:00 central. The "mini series" will crown one kid as a champ after being mentored by Ray and Fieri.
Thomas, whose recipe for 'Yummy Sloppy Joes' anchored last year's menu for the Kids' State Dinner, introduced Mrs. Obama at this year's Kids's State Dinner in July, which celebrated the second crop of winners for the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. She was also invited to sit in Mrs. Obama's Box at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address this year. That's because the Arizona native is not only a good cook, she's started her own non-profit devoted to kids' health initiatives, and is the junior spokesman for Hyatt Hotel's healthier lunch menus (Hyatt partners with Let's Move!). (Above, Thomas and Ray on the show)
Thomas also has her own cooking channel on the internet, though the grand prize for Ray and Fieri's show is a web series.
Ray has offered staunch support for the First Lady's childhood obesity campaign. Mrs. Obama has appeared on her daytime cooking/talk show more than on any other daytime TV show since 2009, and Ray has attended events outside the White House with the First Lady. Most recently, Ray joined Mrs. Obama last February in Mississippi for an event spotlighting healthy school lunches as Mrs. Obama celebrated the third anniversary of her campaign. The Let's Move! Cafeteria Cook-Off pitted child and adult chef teams against each other, and was also featured on Ray's show.
Co-host Fieri has also been a guest chef at the White House, cooking for staff in 2010 when he took over the Navy Mess.
*Top photo by Sonya N. Hebert/White House; Mrs. Obama and the kids were watching Big Time Rush perform; second photo via Food Network