Fifty-four kids from all over the country ate like dignataries at the White House Tuesday.
Seward’s Rowan Bean may be only nine years old, but her Alaska ceviche with mango shows the creativity and maturity of a professional chef. She said it’s “basically salsa with fish in it.”
But that’s selling it short: The prawns and rockfish come from the state, and she whipped them together with spices and lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit juices.
The Alaska-Caribbean fusion won Rowan a free trip to Washington, D.C. She was chosen to represent Alaska at the Kids’ State Dinner, which is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.
Each dish had to follow federal food guidelines set by MyPlate.gov – the new iteration of the old food pyramid.
The carbohydrates in Rowan’s dish came from the fruit, vegetables and whole grain tortilla chips. And to get the dairy requirement, she paired it with a glass of milk.
“You all stood out among a pool of 1300 submissions for this contest,” The First Lady said Tuesday afternoon. “So this was no easy task. If you deal in statistics and odds, the odds were pretty tough getting a seat at this table. So you should be very proud of yourselves.”
The state dinner – actually a lunch – came complete with all the pomp and circumstance of any world-leader sit down: White House China, butler service and a receiving line.
“We set this event up, and we mirrored it exactly to what world leaders experience here. We were in this very room; that receiving line you had to sit through, stand through, we do that,” Ms. Obama joked.
The trip was a whirlwind for Rowan and her parents. She’s going into the fourth grade, and she said her highlights of the trip included a visit to the National History Museum where she saw Dorothy’s ruby red slippers and the original star-spangled-banner.
But most memorable, was the surprise pop in by the president.
“He asked me what my dish was, so I told him it was Alaska ceviche with mango,” Rowan said before hopping a train to Baltimore.
She explained to the president how she came up with her dish. She likes cooking salsa with her mom, so it all started there.
It helps that cooking is in her blood. Her father, Erik Slater, is an executive chef at a resort near Resurrection Bay. He accompanied her to the White House lunch.
“She’s a good sous chef, absolutely,” he said. “Now only if I could get her to do some dishes once in a while.”
And music to his ears, Rowan said she wants to follow in the family footsteps.