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In PHOTOS: Obama surprises young chefs at 'state dinner'

July 10, 2013 16:10 IST

In PHOTOS: Obama surprises young chefs at 'state dinner'

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United States President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the kids' ‘state dinner’ at the White House on Tuesday, an event thrown by First Lady Michelle to welcome the winners of the second annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.

He interacted with each of the 54 winners, congratulating them before getting back to business.

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Image: A boy takes pictures of US President Barack Obama at the second annual 'kids' state dinner', to honor the winners of a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches, at the White House in Washington
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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Obama surprises young chefs at 'state dinner'

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Six Indian-American kid chefs have been honoured for their fabulous culinary skills by Michelle Obama at the White House's 'kids state dinner' as part of her initiative to tackle obesity and promote healthy eating among American children.

Anisha Patel from Ohio, Ganesh Selvakumar from Pennsylvania; Devanshi H Udeshi from Texas; Emma Scielzo from Maryland, Vijay I Dey from North Carolina and Shefali Singh from Massachusetts were among 54 children invited by the first lady for the event at the White House where they also had a chance encounter with President Barack Obama.

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Image: Obama talks with Makenna Hurd of Mascot during the kids' state dinner held in the East Room of the White House
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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Obama surprises young chefs at 'state dinner'

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"Now, first of all, usually at a state dinner, I get invited. So I don't know what happened on this one -- somehow the invitation slipped through somewhere. But it looks like you guys are having fun," the president said amid laughter.

"This is what it's like to be a part of an official state dinner. We mirrored it exactly to what people experience when we host world leaders here," Michelle told the children and their parents gathered in the East Room.

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Image: The Obamas play hosts at the second annual 'kids' state dinner
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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Obama surprises young chefs at 'state dinner'

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Selected from over 13,000 contestants nationwide, the six Indian Americans probably constituted the largest number of kids from any ethnic group. So far, Indian Americans have been known for winning various science and math competitions and those like Spelling Bee and Geography Bee.

"And we're really proud of you winning this challenge -- because, frankly, I'm not a great cook and -- I'm not bad, but I don't do it that much.  Its hard to find the time," the president said.

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Image: bama greets guests at the second annual 'kids' state dinner
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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Obama surprises young chefs at 'state dinner'

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"But when I do cook, I'm following a recipe.  And to think that all of you have invented all this fabulous food just shows how creative you are and it shows that food that tastes good can be healthy, too," Obama said.

Ten-year old Emma Scielzo, a third generation Indian American who attributes her winning recipe of ‘chicken masala wrap’ to her Indian grandparents who immigrated to the US several decades ago from Punjab, was one of three children who were selected to shoot short cooking videos.

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Image: Michelle Obama joins in a wave during the 'kids' state dinner'
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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Obama surprises young chefs at 'state dinner'

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The videos were taped at the White House on Tuesday and will be used in marketing by noted food companies.

Vijay Dey, 12, said he used the recipe of his grandfather to make his winning spring roll. His mother is from China and father from Kolkata.

Anisha Patel, 11, came up with a recipe of "colorful bell peppers stuffed with Quinoa" while watching her mom working in the kitchen. "For vegetarians my dish can be served with a garden salad and any nice fresh fruit. And for non-vegetarians I would serve it with grilled chicken or any other protein and fruit on the side," she said.

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Image: Michelle Obama eats as she hosts the 'kids' state dinner'
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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Obama surprises young chefs at 'state dinner'

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Ganesh Selavakumar, nine, whose hails from Alleppey in Kerala said that his award-winning "lentil-spinach soup and mint chutney" was inspired by his mother. He made it only twice in two days before finalising his recipe. "It is huge and pretty big," he said about the White House.

"Healthy food tastes good," said Shifali Singh, whose recipe was "scrumptious spring rolls". A grade seven student, Shefali said she can make the spring rolls in just 30 seconds.

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Image: Obama addresses guests at the 'kids' state dinner', as wife Michelle watches on
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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Obama surprises young chefs at 'state dinner'

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Being a vegetarian, Devanshi Udeshi said her recipe came out of her need for an alternative to McDonalds' chicken burger. "Since I can't go to McDonalds, I will invent my own recipe. My burger recipe includes quinoa, a good source of protein," she said.

In fact, Devanshi's veggie burger was specifically mentioned by the first lady in her speech.


Image: A place setting for Taddy Pettit (unseen), 10, from Oakwood, Illinois is seen on a table during the dinner
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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TOP photo features of the week

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Image: A place setting for Taddy Pettit (unseen), 10, from Oakwood, Illinois is seen on a table during the dinner
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters
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