Breaking a front tooth wasn't the best thing that ever happened to 8-year-old Mac Wirth, but it sure was a good icebreaker when he met President Barack Obama
"The president asked me my name and where I was from," Wirth told Boise Weekly, with the biggest of grins. "Then he asked, 'Did anyone in Boise tell you that someone stole your tooth?'"
Mac and his mom, Kellie, got some face time with the president and First Lady Michelle Obama when they were special guests at a July 9 White House "Kids' State Dinner"--even though it was technically lunch. Mac was Idaho's winning entrant in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, and for his culinary skills (with a lot of help from Kellie) was invited to the nation's capital along with 53 other young chefs.
BW sat down with the third-grader and his mom in their Boise kitchen to talk about their winning recipe and how Mac spent his summer to remember.
How did you lose that tooth?
Mac: I was in music class and I was getting ready for a performance. It started bleeding, so I went into the bathroom, got a few napkins and went ahead with the performance. You know, because music is a have-to.
What's a have-to?
Mac: When you have to do something. School is a have-to.
And if you're not in school or doing your homework, what are you doing?
Mac: Basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse and I run track.
Mac: Wait, there's more. I'm on a swim team. In the winter, I'm skiing; both downhill and Nordic.
I'm guessing you're really into food
Kellie: I think we're simple foodies. We really love to cook.
Mac: I have the biggest appetite on the face of the earth. I love eating healthy.
A lot of kids don't eat too healthy.
Mac: I'll try anything if it doesn't have a lot of corn syrup or sugar. Last night, my mom made something with chicken, spaghetti and grilled veggies. What was that called?
Kellie: It's called chicken, spaghetti and grilled veggies.
I must say that even the title of your recipe, Veggie Barley Salad with Orange Honey Vinaigrette, sounds delicious.
Kellie: The deadline was Mother's Day and we threw it together pretty quickly.
Mac: Tomatoes, carrots, spinach, barley, red and yellow bell peppers, orange juice, vinegar and honey.
Kellie: We clicked "submit," and it was gone.
And how long did you wait to see if you were successful?
Kellie: We had just come home from vacation June 17 and, honestly, we forgot about it. We got an email that day saying our trip to the White House was in July. It was wild. Only one parent could go to the White House, so my husband Adam and daughter Lucy had to stay home. We took my husband's mother with us and we did a lot of sightseeing in D.C.
Mac: We visited the Spy Museum, which was so cool, and toured Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian.
Tell me about your big day at the White House.
Kellie: They treated it like a real state dinner. They announced us as we came into the room and there was even a press line.
Mac: That room was bigger than our house.
Kellie: The Marine Corps band was playing, a magician was making huge balloon animals and the kids pretty much had the run of the second floor.
And the big surprise was...
Mac: That our recipe was being served for lunch.
Kellie: We had no idea. It was so... I can't describe it.
Tell me about meeting Michelle Obama.
Mac: So cool. She was dancing with a bunch of us kids as Rachel Crow was singing. I eventually got up and danced, too.
Kellie: I said, "When will you ever get a chance to dance with Michelle Obama?"
Mac: And then the president came in.
Kellie: He talked about how he didn't like vegetables when he was a kid but how thankful he was that he was married to someone who knows how to prepare them the way they should taste.
You've got a pretty good story to tell everyone at school this fall.
Mac: Or I could just pick up a bunch of Boise Weeklys and hand them out.