Hawaii girl has state dinner with First Lady

Cowell, 8, was one of the winners of White House's Health Lunchtime Challenge

Published  2:48 PM HST Jul 09, 2013
WASHINGTON -

One local girl is going to have quite the "What I Did This Summer" story when she heads back to class this fall.

Eleanor Cowell, 8, of Honolulu dined with First Lady Michelle Obama as a winner of the White House's Healthy Lunchtime Challenge on Tuesday.

Fifty-four of America's most creative junior chefs were the guests of honor at the White House.

Each one was recognized for their original delicious recipe.

Cowell’s "Curried Chicken Salad & Taste of the Tropics fruit bowl" was inspired by a salad served at California Pizza Kitchen.

“I liked how the chicken there was spiced and I like salad, so why can’t I make a salad of my own,” said Cowell.

It's the second year for the contest and state dinner that the First Lady said is more than just a healthy meal.

"Become a leader. You guys are more than equipped to do it. You’re already doing it, so keep working hard, alright?  You guys promise me that?" said Mrs. Obama, speaking at a podium. The response to her question was a polite silence.

"You guys are hungry, aren’t you," said the First Lady.

The dishes chosen were based on its affordability, originality, healthiness, and, of course, yummy factor.

"They’re our leaders and will show us a better way. So making sure that they are doing all these healthy recipes is just a great way to show other kids around the country that it’s easy, delicious and fun to cook healthy food," said White House chef Sam Kass.

"When they grow up, they’ll live long and be healthy and they won’t be obese," said Cowell when asked why it’s important for kids to eat healthy.

Entertainment was on the menu and included a surprise appearance by the president himself.

President Barack Obama worked the room, greeting each of the budding chefs.  When he met Eleanor, he seemed pleasantly surprised to find out she was a student at Punahou, Obama’s alma mater.

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