Fresh off her state level victory in the fourth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, fourth grader Claire Park led a healthy cooking demonstration for her older schoolmates at the Saipan International School on Monday.
As the CNMI winner in the national competition, Park was this year’s representative to the Kids’ “State Dinner,” which gave her the chance to meet President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
She and her mom, Jin Hee Lee, went to Washington, D.C., last summer and joined the other 54 winners of the contest for a private tour of museums as well as the White House and a dinner with the first lady.
“It was good. I got to talk to the President once and took a picture with the first lady,” Park said of her visit to the President’s residence.
Back on island and with the First Lady’s Kids & Chefs Cook for Success mission to promote healthy cooking in her community, the young chef demonstrated how to prepare her winning recipe, Rota sweet potato salad with grilled chicken breast.
Her celebrity chef of choice, Hyatt Regency Saipan executive chef Gabriele Colombo, was her assistant for the day.
Asked why she chose the sweet potato for her recipe, Park said her family loves its taste and that it contains a lot of nutrients.
“Our family likes the sweet potato, so me and my mom made a sweet potato recipe,” Park said.
Lee said Park loves to cook, especially baking, and wants to be a baker someday.
After her cooking demo, Colombo also demonstrated his own simple, healthy, and affordable recipe, almond basil pesto and breadfruit chips.
“It’s a huge honor to have a student from our school and from our community to be able to go all the way to Washington, D.C., meet the first lady and the President. We are just very happy that Claire came back and had the opportunity to share with people in the community the thing that she did and the dish she made and promote the idea of a healthy lifestyle,” SIS headmaster Tim Bray said.
Aside from SIS, Park will also do a demo at Hyatt on Nov.19 and at Joeten Susupe on Nov. 21, with the goal to inspire and encourage other kids and parents to make healthy food choices and to build basic cooking skills.