Yesterday morning I found myself walking from my hotel down to the White House. I decided to walk the short distance because it was a time to spend with my thoughts, and I wanted to take in the moment. I was in D.C. for the White House Easter Egg Roll, invited to do a cooking demo with the Obamas and 30,000 invited guests.
The White House never ceases to amaze me. Although I'd been there many times before, most memorably when I was invited to join Executive Chef Christeta Comerford for the State Dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, I still get chills when I see this historical landmark. I love the process of going through security and showing my passport to receive my credentials. Ask the people who were in line to greet the President-Julianne Moore, Forest Whitaker, numerous sports greats and celebrities-they were as giddy as the children there to meet the Easter Bunny.
If you want to know America, it's right there. Young, old, Asian, Middle Eastern, black, white, Jewish. There's such a cross-section of people that show up for the annual event and it's hard to believe the numbers have grown from 5,000 guests to yesterday's 30,000 invitees. The way I see it, you know it's your first time but you don't know if it'll be your last. I don't take that for granted and have learned to appreciate every moment.
And that was before the fun began. Highlights from my day? Meeting Bo, the dog! But the real joy (and always my passion) was cooking alongside the First Lady, with some backstage help from my intern Noah (a young chef who attends Sasha and Malia's school). In order to emphasize the importance of vegetables in every meal, I prepared my veggie tacos and threw in some shrimp to make it a well-balanced and tasty meal. My little helpers certainly liked it.
Of course I made a point to visit the White House garden. I was happy to see there were plenty of beautiful lettuce, arugula, potatoes, and spring onions growing well. Clearly all these seasonal products are doing a body good-I was shocked to see how tall Malia had grown since I last saw her. I made sure to stand next to Sasha during a photo op-I wanted to be taller than at least one of the Obama girls.
Check out my photos from yesterday's White House Easter Egg Roll and to watch the video of my demo, click here.
What do you think we can do to help get more fruits and vegetables into our daily diet? Tweet or Facebook me your suggestions!
Photos: Marcus Samuelsson