I don’t know if teachers ask kids to write about what they did on their summer vacations any more. But if they do, Rowan can tell how she went to the White House and met the President of the United States. So move over chicken nuggets and re-heated pepperoni pizza. Kids can handle much healthier lunches, and with a little encouragement from First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama, they will not only eat them, but create them.
Rowan Bean, a nine-year old Seward girl got invited to Washington DC to attend the 2013 Kids’ “State Dinner” July 9th 2013 at the White House, hosted by Michelle Obama. She was allowed to bring along one parent, so her father, Resurrection Roadhouse Chef Eric Slater obliged. Her mother, Hillary Bean, who works at Ray’s Waterfront, another local seafood restaurant, had to hear about their amazing adventure second-hand.
The trip was a prize for being Alaska’s winner of the Epicurious Let’s Move! 2013 competition, celebrating the ingenuity of the budding young chefs. Bean’s Alaska Mango Ceviche (served with chips) recipe brought her there, as part of a group of 54 other young recipe winners, one from each of the 50 states, plus some of the U.S. Territories, D.C., and Puerto Rico. They got to meet and talk with the President, the First Lady, and got a tour of her Kitchen Garden, a lush affair grown by young people in the DC area. They also got to see the Obama’s beehives and talk to the White House beekeeper. It’s the first time the White House had beehives, Slater said.
Bean’s dish was were selected from more than 1,300 entries, and were then evaluated by a panel of judges that included Let’s Move! executive director and assistant White House chef Sam Kass; Epicurious editor-in-chief Tanya Steel; representatives from the USDA and the Department of Education; two children who recently graduated from Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program; and D.C. Central Kitchen’s Michael F. Curtin, Jr., whose organization prepared the food for tasting.
Rowan had a little cooking experience helping her mother out in the kitchen, so she already knew how ceviche was made. Before entering the contest, she went into the Roadhouse kitchen and selected each of the ingredients she wanted, and then put the ceviche together all on her own. Slater swears no one helped her. When the salsa came out a little too sweet at the end, she added a little chili pepper.
Here’s what Rowan wrote for the 2013 Healthy Challenge Cookbook about her contribution:
“I came up with this because it’s a dish that has mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. It also has Alaskan fish and Alaskan spot prawns, which is the best seafood in the world. These are all things that I like,” said Rowan. “I would put whole-grain tortilla chips and low-fat milk to balance it out for a healthy meal.”
Her parents were particularly impressed that the president took so much time that day to go around to each table, and talk to each child there about themselves, and the dish they had made. Slater had overheard Michelle Obama’s chief of staff fretting aloud about how busy the president’s schedule was that day.
The dishes all had to use MyPlate standards as a guideline. They were judged on their deliciousness, creativity, nutritious value and affordability. Salmon was surprisingly high on the list of the ingredients the children used, said one judge. Other popular ingredients were ground turkey, mangos and Greek-style yoghurt.
Bean received a proclamation from the City of Seward Monday in honor of her achievement. She accepted it graciously—then put in a plug for her father’s business, telling the audience that she had also created the children’s menu at Resurrection Roadhouse.
Reported by Heidi Zemach for SCN