WASHINGTON – The smell of salmon and herbs filled the room,and bowls of ingredients occupied the counter top. It’s the work of a culinary genius,with a unique twist: this chef has yet to finish elementary school.
Ingrid Gruber,9,was sick and missing a day from Capitol Hill Day School when she stumbled on the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge online hosted by first lady Michelle Obama. Students from all U.S. states,three territories and the District of Columbia submitted their original healthy recipes to the White House in hopes of being the child chosen from their area.
Ingrid and her mother,Gretchen Lamberg,41,immediately started researching for the challenge.
“We spent the afternoon reading the rules and coming up with the ideas,” Lamberg said.
Soon after hearing about the contest,Ingrid had created her masterpiece: Inga Binga’s Salmon Salad,an original gluten-free recipe.
Ingrid has celiac disease,meaning she can’t eat gluten,a protein found in wheat and other grains.
The rising fourth-grader used her great-grandfather’s salmon recipe to top her original salad and dressing. Her salad is composed of quinoa,which is a gluten-free alternative to couscous,cherry tomatoes and arugula,and her dressing is made with Greek yogurt,lemon juice,olive oil and garlic.
Ingrid,whose family has called her Inga Binga since she was a baby,said she loves cooking,and has been doing it consistently for about five years.
Now that Ingrid is on summer vacation,she said she cooks “as often as I can.”
Ingrid is representing Washington,as one of 54 children who will be honored at a Kids’ State Dinner on Tuesday. She lives five blocks from the Capitol with her parents,Michael Gruber,43,a lobbyist; her mother,a lawyer,and brother Max,6.
At the White House,the children,ages 8 to12,will join the first lady for a healthy lunch that will feature a selection of the winning recipes and a performance from X-Factor contestant Rachel Crow.
The winners also visited Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian National Museum of American history on Monday and had a pizza party.
This is the second year of the challenge. It was started to support Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to help solve childhood obesity. Each recipe had to contain each food group,with fruits and vegetables making up about half the plate.
The challenge was originated by Epicurious,an online food magazine,and has since received more than 1,300 recipes.
Ingrid is excited to visit the White House on Tuesday. Although she has not decided to make a career from cooking just yet,Ingrid said it’s a hobby that she loves.
“It’s fun and creative,because you can do pretty much anything with cooking,” Ingrid said. “It involves a lot of experiments and I love science.”
Reach Reporter Jacqueline DelPilar at [email protected] or 202-326-9861. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.