In an interview with FoodGPS.com at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival in October, chef Ed Kenney revealed that he’d most like to cook with Michelle Obama. “I think the message that she sent in planting a White House garden, internationally, was [that] America is serious about food, health and reconnecting to the earth,” said Kenney. “Her ‘Let’s Move’ initiative with getting kids out and active, eating regular food, saying no to KFC and Mickey D’s, it would probably have to be Michelle Obama.”
This past weekend, at an event the first lady held for the spouses of leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference in Hawaii, Kenney got his chance.
Kenney prepared a menu tailored to the fresh food of the MA’O Organic farm and Michelle Obama’s health initiative. MA’O helps the community with workshops on traditional Hawaiian farming practices geared to young people and families. Young people intern at the farm in exchange for educational financial assistance.
“The fresh fruits and vegetables that you’ll be eating today were grown and prepared by some phenomenal young people at a local organic farm under the guidance of a great Hawaiian chef, chef Ed Kenney,” Michelle Obama said in her speech at the luncheon.
After harvesting the vegetables with the young people from the farm the day before, Kenney planned a menu using the seasonal ingredients they’d collected. The first course consisted of MA’O organic farm beets, arugula, and clementine with naked cow eairy feta and pistachio. Fresh fish from Kaneohe Bay, MA’O organic farm root vegetables, pa’i ‘ai and limu vinaigrette made up the main course. The fish had been caught the day before. For dessert, Kenney created a Meyer lemon tart and fresh local fruit from the farm.
Kenney is on the advisory board for the MA’O Organic Farm and the owner of Town and Downtown restaurants. His cooking mantra is “local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always.”