TLT Exclusive: A Nine-Year-Old’s Account of the White House “Kids’ State Dinner”

by Bettina Elias Siegel on August 27, 2012

[Hey, everyone!  It’s great to be back after my two-week summer break and I have lots of posts to share, including the annual “It Takes a Village to Pack a Lunch” series, book reviews and more.  But all of that will have to wait, because today I’m handing TLT over to a very special guest blogger, nine-year-old Michael Lakind.   

Michael was one of fifty-six winners of ”The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,” a cooking contest co-sponsored by Epicurious, Let’s Move!, the Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture.  Kids aged 8 to 12 were asked to submit recipes for “a healthy, original, affordable, tasty lunch that contains the five food groups” and the prize was a “kids’ state dinner” (which was really a luncheon) at the White House on August 20th.  When I found out that Michael lives right here in Houston, I asked him if he’d be willing to share his impressions with TLT readers.  Here’s his account of the day.]

My Day at The White House

 by Michael Lakind

My experience at the White House was the best day of my life!  My day started out at our hotel lobby.  All the winners got a healthy breakfast bag and we got on the bus for a mini tour of D.C.  The bus even had a bathroom on it!  We saw many of the memorials, the Capitol and then The White House!  We entered from the southeast side.

Meet the press!

Everyone had to go through security.  When my mom walked through, it buzzed.  We finally walked into The White House!  It was so amazing!  There were people playing music when we entered. When we reached the red carpet area, we waited our turn to be announced.  There were so many cameras and reporters. Everyone wanted to interview me. I felt famous! My mom was even interviewed!

After that, we went into a private room so that Chef Sam Kass, the private chef for the First Family could interview me.  He is so nice!  We talked about my winning recipes and how much I love to cook.

With White House chef Sam Kass

Next, we got to meet The First Lady and took professional photos with her.  She was so nice and tall!  She gave us hugs and she told me how proud she was of me and that she loved the names of my winning dishes, Bunny Bisque and Secret Service Super Salad.

All of the rooms that we went into were so nice.  Paintings of past Presidents and First Ladies were hanging on the walls and everything was so fancy.  My mom told me not to touch anything.

After that, we went to a really cool room that had music, colorful tables filled with fruit and drinks and they even had a lady making balloon animals!

Michael meets the First Lady

A really nice Secret Service Agent, Ignacio “Nacho” talked to me for a while and gave me so many gifts.  He gave me a really nice pen in a case, a pin and a big picture of the President’s limo, called The Beast.  He gave me his card and told me that I could call him the next time we are in D.C. and he will give us a private tour of the White House!

The main room for the luncheon was set up really nice.  The press was everywhere and I gave even more interviews.  We got to sit with Chef Sam Kass and some of the other kids.  We were all so excited!

The First Lady gave a speech and talked about me and my Secret Service Super Salad!  I couldn’t believe it!

She told everyone how proud she was of all the winners and talked about how important it is to eat healthy.  Then she said that we had an unexpected visitor.  The President walked in!  He came right over to me and shook my hand and my mom’s!  It was so cool! Everyone was freaking out!  He said that he wanted to crash the party and not to drop food on the floor, since Bo their dog might get it and he is on a diet.

The food was served on Ronald Reagan’s china.  It was very fancy.  We don’t eat on plates like that at home.  We ate baked kale chips, a salad with quinoa, sloppy joe’s, zucchini fries, fruit skewers and a smoothie.  It was very healthy!

Big Time Rush performed and they were really good.  When I had to go to the bathroom, I had to be escorted.  After the lunch, we got to tour the White House Garden with Chef Sam Kass.  The garden is amazing and big and they grow everything!  We got to walk through the garden and Chef Kass talked about the different fruits and vegetables they grow.  The watermelons were huge and everything looked so good and fresh!  I asked him what he cooks for the First Family and he said that they eat lots of healthy food and they always have to have vegetables with their meal.  They even gave us a little jar of honey!  I will probably save it forever.

In the White House garden

After the tour of the garden, we walked back to the bus. I really didn’t want to leave.  I had one more interview and then, it was all over. I hope my little brother, Ben wins next year, so he can come to The White House.  This was the best day of my life!  I will remember it forever!

* * * 

Many thanks to  Michael for sharing his story on The Lunch Tray!  You can find Michael’s winning recipes for Secret Service Salad and Bunny Bisque here.  Thanks also to Michael’s mom, Toni Lakind, and to Susan Farb Morris for putting us in touch.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

LDiggitty August 27, 2012 at 8:24 am

This is SO great! I love being able to see the experience through his eyes :) And I laughed out loud when he talked about his mom setting the security scanner off and the President telling them not to drop food on the floor!

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Bettina Elias Siegel August 27, 2012 at 9:19 am

I know – I love all his details, like being escorted to the bathroom!

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mommm!!! August 27, 2012 at 9:57 am

That is one of the most precious things I’ve read in a long time. Good job Michael!

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Karen August 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm

It’s a great essay. A++++! And now I’m talking like a 9 year old with exclamation points! I am so jealous, that is the truth!

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EdT. August 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I am glad he chose to share his day with the rest of us. After dealing with the “realities” of life in the politicosphere for so long, it is refreshing to get a story free of all the distracting “stuff”. And, I hope his family takes him back, so he can get that private tour – I remember getting “special treatment” at some of the historic castles/palaces in Europe when I was about that age, and it is indeed exciting!

~EdT.

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Joan Reichstein August 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

For those of you born in Houston and were around in the ’50s might remember the Jane Christopher show on KPRC TV…It was called TV Kitchen. Michael’s great gradmother was on that show. So, he comes by cooking by way of a very long family tradition. This is his grandma speaking and he is a delight to be with whether it be cooking, reading, playing baseball or watching movies. He cooked dinner for me on Saturday night and it was delicious!

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Bettina Elias Siegel August 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Welcome, Grandma Joan! :-) Michael does seem like an amazing kid – I’m sure we’ll be following him for a long time to come.

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