After an intimate round table with Michelle Obama, we headed outside to the HealthierUS School Challenge Celebration, where we were given recipes form the White House and a tour of the gardens where Bo posed so perfectly with the first lady. White House chef Sam Kass got giddy when showing off purple lima beans, colorful peppers, and a growing fig tree.
Besides getting a good dose of White House chef Sam Kass, last night's episode of Top Chef highlighted Let's Move! — Michelle Obama's campaign to end childhood obesity. For the elimination challenge, each team of four was given the task of making a healthy school lunch for 50 kids with a small budget of $2.60 per child. Sounds impossible, but it's exactly the same budget restraints that public lunch programs around the country work within.
While some of the dishes —like the sherry jus chicken and the banana pudding — were big time fails, others were big hits. Not only were they made with healthy, natural ingredients, they also went over well with the kids. Here are some of the standouts to inspire your own healthy swaps:
- Whole grain tacos with roasted pork. Knowing that kids love tacos, contestant Kelly Liken gave the dish a healthy twist by making tortillas from scratch with oats, then using a lean roasted pork for the protein. She topped that off with a bevy of fresh veggies. In fact, all of the side dishes that her team came up with were great: roasted corn salad, black bean cake with whole grain and sweet crispy potatoes, and caramelized sweet potatoes with sherbet.
- Melon kebabs with yogurt foam. Cut up fruit in fun shapes and stick them on a wooden stick, and suddenly they look appealing to everyone. What really got the kids excited was the addition of whipped yogurt. Contestant Kevin Sbraga turned a healthy serving of yogurt into whipping cream using a whipped cream siphon.
- Chicken burger with fiesta rice. Instead of using beef, contestant Tracey Bloom kept it lean by making a chicken burger instead.
- Barbecue chicken and coleslaw. A good barbecue sauce and coleslaw can be filled with tons of sugar and mayo. The chef-contestants on last night's challenge made their versions healthier by swapping out the majority of mayo and sugar and replacing it with yogurt and tangy apple cider vinegar.
What are your healthy swaps?
Photo courtesy of Bravo
Last night, the second episode of Top Chef: DC went down, and it was totally action-packed. First came the Bi-partisandwich Quickfire, in which the 16 contestants teamed up in pairs and tried their best to single-handedly pile ingredients between bread while attached at the apron. The challenge was painfully cheesy, but Angelo was the right one to win immunity.
For the Elimination Challenge — seriously, who didn't see this coming? — the chefs took part in Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign, and made a four-course school lunch for 50 on a public school budget of $2.60 per person. Standing in for new chef judge Eric Ripert was the extremely attractive and intelligent White House chef Sam Kass.
I wasn't surprised by the taco team taking home the win, or for someone being eliminated over dessert. So far, I think Kenny and Angelo are the season's front-runners. How do you feel about Top Chef: DC?
Photo courtesy of Bravo
Part of Michelle Obama's master plan to reform eating habits in this country includes the directive of a young chef named Sam Kass. Kass has been the Obamas' personal chef for several years now, and when the Obamas packed up and moved to the White House, he did too.
Kass, 29, plays more than cook at his current post: he is the first White House chef to have an actual desk in the East Wing and works alongside the rest of Ms. Obama's policy team with the title of "food initiative coordinator," meaning he's given the daunting task of getting the entire country to eat better.
To hear how Kass is trying to making the country healthier, read more
Yesterday, before the National Governors Association Dinner — President Barack Obama's first official dinner at the White House — First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford opened up the White House kitchen to reporters from the New York Times and top students from L'Academie de Cuisine, a culinary school in nearby Gaithersburg, MD. Along with First Lady Obama, Comerford, Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, and former Obama private chef Sam Kass gave the community an opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes in the White House kitchen before a large event, and even sampled dishes, from citrus salad with watermelon radishes to Chesapeake crab agnolotti. Then the first lady opened up the floor for questions, asking the first: "Actually, how do you become executive chef of the White House?" she inquired. To watch the video and get a glimpse into the White House kitchen, read more
Representatives for the Obamas announced yesterday that the family would be bringing Sam Kass on board. The 28-year-old chef, who cooked for the Obamas in Chicago, will now serve as assistant chef to White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford.
"He knows what they like and he happens to have a particular interest in healthy food and local food," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokesperson for Michelle Obama. Before Kass founded his private chef service, Inevitable Table, the University of Chicago graduate trained at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Europe and also worked at top Chicago restaurant Avec.
According to former White House chef Walter Scheib, having Kass on board will make things easier for Comerford as well. "She will understand better and faster what they like," he said. "She doesn't have to spend months reading the tea leaves."
This news has no doubt thrilled the likes of eat local proponents such as Alice Waters, and I'm wondering if it's just a matter of time before an organic garden gets planted on the grounds. I have to admit, however, that I was surprised to find the Obamas had a private chef. I thought he was one to grab a bite at the drive-in like the rest of us. What do you think of the news?