Michelle Obama Honors Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Winners

The young chefs were also treated to a surprise visit from the president.

Posted: 07/10/2013 10:31 AM EDT

First Lady Michelle Obama pulled out all the stops Tuesday for the second annual Kids' State Dinner. Guests included 54 children who'd submitted recipes to the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, which is part of the first lady's Let's Move campaign to reduce childhood obesity.

More than 1,300 kids from across the nation entered the contest. Winning dishes included Wisconsin solar-oven-simmered chili and a veggie barley salad with orange honey vinaigrette.

The White House visit was the young chefs' reward. Like the adult version of a state dinner, they went through a receiving line and the meal, which included some of their entries, and were served on fine china and linens. For the first lady, however, the kids were more fun than the usual cast of dignitaries who attend such events.

"This is truly one of my favorite events that we have here in the White House. I mean, we do a lot of cool stuff here," the first lady said. "We’ve got singers and stars and world leaders, but this, probably throughout the entire White House, is one of our favorite events because we get to see how talented and creative and brilliant all of you young people can be. And then we get to show the world."

President Obama crashed the party and told a story about how when he was growing up, vegetables were boiled until they were tasteless. He said he's since learned that healthy foods can be delicious and revealed that broccoli is his favorite vegetable.

"Now I actually like vegetables because they're prepared right. And so you guys are getting a jump on things because you're figuring that out earlier," he said, and urged them to "keep it up."

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(Photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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