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WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama opened the White House kitchen Sunday to six culinary students so they could learn about preparations for a big official dinner.
The first lady was joined by White House chef Cristeta Comerford, executive pastry chef Bill Yosses and social secretary Desiree Rogers. The group guided the students through the menu and planning for President Barack Obama's dinner with the nation's governors.
"This is where the magic happens," she told the students from the L'Academie de Cuisine in nearby Gaithersburg, Md., as they gathered in the main kitchen.
Mrs. Obama was wearing a Jason Wu dress.
Michelle Obama with White House Chef Cristeta Comerford
The First Lady talks to students. White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers stands to her right.
Rogers, Obama, Comerford, and White House Pastry Chef William Yosses
A plate of half-eaten desserts is shown after students from L'Academie de Cusine previewed meals for President Obama's dinner.
Mrs. Obama told them about the value she places on fresh and regionally grown food.
"That's one of the things that we're talking a lot about that, you know, when you grow something yourself and it's close and it's local, oftentimes it tastes really good," she said. That's especially important, she added when trying to get kids to eat vegetables.
Comerford said she designed the menu for the governors dinner to reflect the season and represent the American spirit. It included beef from Nebraska, red dragon carrots from Ohio, sea scallops from Massachusetts and watermelon radishes grown in the Washington area. The dessert featured huckleberries from Idaho.
"We like to use regional specialties, natural and unadulterated whenever possible," Yosses said.
Asked for her favorite dishes served from the White House kitchen, Mrs. Obama said the waffles and grits at breakfast were particular family favorites. She also praised the soups and salads served for lunch.
She added that her husband, the president, is a big fan of scallops and pie.
"The president calls Bill (Yosses) the crustmaster, because he's a big pie guy," she said.