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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesStudent Chef Wins Trip to D.C. State Dinner

Student Chef Wins Trip to D.C. State Dinner

Gabriel Reed Jr.
Arriving in Washington, D.C., on Saturday from St. Thomas, 11-year-old Gabriel Reed Jr. had a short time to rest before tackling the packed two-day schedule ahead of him – which included attending a formal luncheon on Monday with First Lady Michelle Obama.
Gabriel was one of 54 students from across the states and territories to attend the first ever Kids’ “State Dinner,” which was hosted by the First Lady as part of her ongoing Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. As part of the challenge, students were invited to create and submit a healthy lunchtime recipe, which was evaluated by a panel of judges made up of White House chefs, private sector food critics and representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture.
Gabriel and mom Vanessa Wilkinson on a tour of the White House
More than 1,200 entries were submitted and the winning student chefs were invited up to D.C. for a pizza party, tour of the city, a visit to the “Julia Child’s Kitchen” exhibit at the Smithsonian and, of course, a formal lunch with the First Lady.
Gabriel, an incoming sixth grader at Ulla F. Muller Elementary School, won with an original recipe for kale lasagna, which calls for fresh tomatoes, basil, parmesan cheese and skim mozzerella cheese. The dish was put together with help from Muller’s school nurse Kathleen Taylor, who also heads Muller’s Gardening Club.
“Throughout the year, the kids harvest the veggies, cook various recipes and share it amongst themselves,” Gabriel’s mother, Vanessa Wilkinson, said.
Wilkinson said she and Gabriel have been practicing eating healthy at home, too, and focusing on more vegetarian meals that give them the chance to use fresh local produce.
First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at the first ever Kids’ “State Dinner” – photo by Vanessa Wilkinson
“We recently went to the doctor after Gabriel complained of stomach pains, and while his tests turned out good, the doctor still encouraged us to look at eating more healthy,” said Wilkinson, who also made the trip to D.C.
Speaking over the weekend, Gabriel said he was most excited to meet the First Lady, tour the White House and – being a true animal lover – meet the First Family’s dog, Bo.

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