Friday, December 18, 2009

Media Alert - Iron Chef comes to the White House

hat tip: W.E.E. See You

From Obama Foodorama:

flotus chefs

First Lady Michelle Obama Graces Season Premiere of Iron Chef America; Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford Will Compete
Another first from the Obama White House Kitchen...First Lady reveals "secret ingredient"

First Lady Michelle Obama will make a special appearance on the season premiere of the popular Food Network show Iron Chef America in January, in a savvy move to extend her healthy food messaging to a new audience. Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford will compete on the show in a special two hour "super chef battle." Comerford's teammate is grill master Bobby Flay, who guest-cheffed at the White House for the Father's Day event in June, when he cooked up some lovely steaks with President Obama. Spoiler alert: Mrs. Obama will be revealing the "secret ingredient" that the chefs will use in their televised cook-off, which is a hallmark of the Iron Chef America series. The "secret ingredient" in this case is anything that grows in the White House Kitchen Garden, which leaves things wiiiide open, because the Kitchen Garden has produced a stunning variety of crops this year. Comerford and Flay are competing against the highly competitive team of celeb chefs Emeril Lagasse, who specializes in Southern/New Orleans cooking, and Mario Batali, an Italian cooking superstar. (Above: Mrs. Obama flanked by, from left, Flay, Comerford and show host Alton Brown; Batali is in the crocs, his signature shoe, and Lagasse is on right)

Scenes for the show were already shot at the White House, with Comerford and the three other chefs harvesting crops from the Kitchen Garden, and Mrs. Obama having face-time with the guest chefs and discussing the importance of getting kids to eat their veggies. In her onscreen cameo, Mrs. Obama will discuss her campaign to reduce childhood obesity through better school lunches, community gardens, farmers’ markets and exercise, which is now known as the Healthy Kids Initiative around the White House. The show's January airdate is timed perfectly to be right before Congress comes back into session, when legislators will ostensibly be addressing the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which provides federal funding for school feeding programs. Better school lunches are one of Mrs. Obama's priorities, and President Obama's too; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack frequently notes in his public remarks that this was the very first subject President Obama discussed with him during their "job interview." (Above: Comerford in the Kitchen Garden during the Iron Chef America filming, harvesting with teammate Flay)

Yesterday, the chefs reunited in New York in the Iron Chef Kitchen Stadium, the stage set where the competition part of the show occurs. In addition to the "secret ingredient" of White House Kitchen Garden veggies (stand-in organic veggies were used for the actual filming--) the chefs were given a baby pig, and a pantry of dairy products to work with, among other things. Guest judges for the competition part of the episode were cookbook author/chef Nigella Lawson, actress Jane Seymour, and Olympic swimming champ Natalie Coughlin.

The Iron Chef America appearance for Comerford is the first cooking show appearance from the White House, and follows her appearance on The Biggest Loser. For that show, Comerford made a healthy salad with the cast, but Sam Kass managed the Kitchen Garden veggie harvesting. While she was Executive Chef for former First Lady Laura Bush, Comerford made a few network TV appearances on morning television shows, too.

The show will air on January 3 on the Food Network.

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