By Alicia M. Cohn - 08/20/12 04:22 PM EDT
“I’m not a great cook. I’m an OK cook,” the president said. “I can make a good omelet. Toast.”
“Chili,” his wife added.
“It’s true, I make a good chili,” he said.
Fifty-four winners, one from each of the 50 states, plus D.C., Puerto Rico and U.S. territories, were chosen out of 1,200 entries submitted for the contest, which was announced in May. The contest represents a combined effort by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! anti-obesity initiative, the departments of Education and Agriculture, and online recipe site Epicurious.
“Is this not cool?” the first lady said in remarks before the dinner. “It’s not just cool for all of you. This house has been abuzz with this event. I think this is one of the best events we’ve ever had here.”
The first lady ate with the contest winners, who were all accompanied by a guardian, but the president briefly dropped in and out of the event held in the East Room at the White House.
“I’m not going to speak long because I know that there is some entertainment coming that is more entertaining than me,” Obama added.
The Nickelodeon band Big Time Rush was set to perform following the dinner. “They always come through,” Michelle Obama said of the band. “They are awesome, they are energetic, they’re healthy.”
Before leaving, the president asked the youths not to drop anything on the floor because the Obamas’ dog, Bo, is “on a diet.”
The winning entries are listed at the Let’s Move website, and an e-book of all the recipes is available for download through sponsor Epicurious here.
The entries were judged primarily on how well they incorporate the Department of Agriculture's MyPlate nutritional guidelines. Judges ranked finalists’ dishes by nutritional value for 50 percent of the overall score, with 25 percent of the scoring devoted to taste, 15 percent to creativity and originality, 5 percent to affordability and 5 percent for the story explaining the submission. The stories are included in the e-book.