The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

August 24, 2013

Young cook meets Obama

Oakwood's Pettit attends 'state dinner' at White House

OAKWOOD — If you ask Taddy Pettit what he did during the summer, he might talk about winning a tennis championship or going to tennis camp.

And, oh yeah … he met the president of the United States.

The 11-year-old Oakwood boy is low-key about the once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

“He doesn’t fully understand how incredibly cool this is,” his father, Justin Pettit of Covington, Ind., said.

Taddy, a sixth-grader at Oakwood Grade School, was one of 54 young winners in a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches as part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.

He and stepfather Ryan Rogers, a chef, came up with “Black Bean Wrap with Jicama — Grilled Corn Salsa” over the summer. His mother is Abbie Pettit of Oakwood.

One winner was chosen from each state, the District of Columbia and three territories.

Taddy and Rogers were flown to Washington, D.C., in early July for three days of red carpet treatment, including a state dinner (actually, a luncheon), photo opportunity with the first lady and a chance to chitchat with Barack Obama — who made a surprise visit to the luncheon.

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ State Dinner was sponsored by Epicurious, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Let’s Move program.

The youngsters — ages 8-12 — and their guardians joined Michelle Obama for a healthy lunch, featuring a selection of the winning recipes, followed by a visit to the White House kitchen garden.

Taddy said he was seated at a table with a good view; there were speakers and a performance by singer Rachel Crow. Michelle Obama thanked the participants and said she was proud of them.

Then, without warning, the president appeared, saying that he’s usually invited to state dinners, but somehow the invitation got lost, according to a video on the Let’s Move website. He also told the children that vegetables can be good when they’re cooked properly.

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