Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 11, 2013

First lady hosts 'dinner' for top junior chefs

The Associated Press

---- — WASHINGTON (AP) — Brynna Robert of Louisiana found out about and entered a White House contest for kid chefs on deadline day. Wisconsin’s Liam Kivirist studied more than 1,000 entries from the previous year’s competition before stirring up his own creation. Devanshi Udeshi of Texas submitted a healthier version of her all-time favorite thing to eat.

More than 1,300 recipes in all poured in. After the batch was painstakingly trimmed to 54, Brynna, Liam and Devanshi were among a select group of 8- to 12-year-olds whose culinary concoctions earned them a three-course meal at the White House on Tuesday along with pep talks from President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

“It feels like I’m in a castle or something,” said Devanshi, 12, of Sugar Land, Texas.

Liam, 11, of Browntown, Wis., said the experience was “awesome” and seeing the Obamas was “really cool.”

The contest was sponsored by the Epicurious food website and the federal departments of Agriculture and Education. One winner was chosen from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific.

The recipes had to follow federal guidelines for healthy meals.

Michelle Obama, who is spearheading a campaign to reduce childhood obesity through diet and exercise, told the winners they overcame tough odds to land a seat at one of 12 round and rectangular tables set up in the East Room, where she and the president often hold equally elaborate dinners for foreign heads of state.

The event, now in its second year, is one of her favorites, she said.

“We’ve got singers and stars and world leaders, but this, probably throughout the entire White House, is one of our favorite events because we get to see how talented and creative and brilliant all of you young people can be,” she said, surrounded by large arrangements of oranges, lemons, and Granny Smith apples and limes.