Behind the scenes of dinner with First Lady Michelle Obama

All I can say is wow, as the First Lady made a splash in Dallas. Not only was she stylish , but she was warm, down to earth and just fun to be around.  And I lucked out with her dinner being 15 minutes from my house!!! Sometimes things are met to be!!!

Want to know what she ate, who was invited, and what they talked about? Then read on. Here is an insider look into day 1 of her Texas tour which includes her Olive Garden Dinner.  The Top Chef cooking competition with Dallas Students and the First Lady can be found here. Enjoy!!!

After an hour-long drive from the airport, The First Lady entered the land of bottomless salad and bread sticks for her next “Let’s Move!” event. (Motorcade was uneventful except for some traffic and a camel sighting). Also we passed an Olive Garden on the way to the Olive Garden. Mrs Obama was at the Olive Garden because it’s part of Darden, the nation’s largest casual dining company that’s in the process of revamping their kids menus to offer healthier options.

Mrs. Obama and assistant White House chef Sam Kass had dinner at the Olive Garden with eight parents  for about an hour, where they discussed how to work healthy living into their busy lives.They sat at a long wooden table in a back room of the restaurant, which was busy when pool arrived and teeming with curious onlookers inside and out in the parking lot by the time we left.

Mrs. Obama  entered and exited through the back door.The table was set with glass bottles of Pellegrino and Evian, and several bowls of salad. She was shown a prototype of the new kids menu (a fruit or vegetable side dish, lowfat milk, no references to soda and only pictures of healthy foods.)”I hope you’re hungry. I’m starving,” Mrs. Obama said, passing around one of the salad bowls. (She had the still water.) Mrs. Obama and fellow diners ordered off of a set menu that listed the calories for each selection: -salad with low fat dressing (100 calories); minestone soup (100 calories); pasta e fagioli (130 calories): breadsticks (150 calories); -capellini pomadoro (480 calories); venetian apricot chicken (400 calories); seafood brodetto (480 calories); -strawberry mousse with white chocolate cream cake (210 calories); limoncello mousse with vanilla cookie crust (230 calories).

She began the conversation by saying it’s one thing to sit in DC and talk about the initiatives she’s championing but that it doesn’t matter if they’re not reaching parents and kids and having an impact on the ground.The conversation flowed, with the parents telling their stories and Mrs. Obama sharing her own. One mother of two, Andrea Bredlove, talked about growing up with a mother who was morbidly obese. Another, Jenny Hogan, talked about her effort to get local kids active (her son when he was 4 did a mini-triathalon – ran 1/2 a mile, swam, was on training wheels for the biking portion…)

She told several personal stories:Stressing the need to set an example as parents, she talked about how her father was active when she was growing up, before he got MS he swam and boxed.She said “Let’s Move!” is a result of her own experiences as a working mother whose husband was out of town a lot.”

She told the parents that President Obama has been coaching their daughter Sasha’s basketball team. “He hasn’t missed a game,” she said. “I think he was hoping to get this weekend off, but I’m gone,” she added, with a smile. (She returns Saturday night.)She also said that every night her husband is in town, the family has dinner at 6:30pm. “Every meeting stops at 6:30,” Mrs. Obama said. To accentuate the point that sometimes kids don’t think what their parents do is cool and it’s better to let them discover things for themselves.  She told a story about  Sasha said it’s called a”hair” tomato. You mean heirloom tomato? Mrs. Obama said she asked her. Sasha said yes.  Mrs. Obama told her that kind of tomato grows in the White House garden, to which she said her daughter replied, “No, Mom, ours is much better.”Mrs. Obama also talked about how children’s palates can become accustomed to healthier food, citing Malia’s taste for sugary juices.

When Mrs. Obama asked Malia to cut her juice in half with water, she did so, and then began to dilute it even further. At one point, Malia tasted undiluted juice and told her mom she didn’t like it because it tasted too sweet and strong. At the end she talked about the power of consumers in the role of businesses changing and adapting to the demand for healthier and fresher foods.She talked about how her daughters had a bunch of friends over at Camp David and half of them didn’t know how to ride a bike. Too funny..

Thanks to Carol Lee and Mike Landler


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