July 21st, 2014
12:45 PM ET
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She chops. She sautés. She whips up whole healthy meals.

Eleven-year-old Esther Matheny is a natural when it comes to the kitchen, using her cooking skills and creativity to contribute to her family's dinner table in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

This spring, she won a chance to represent her state at the White House Kids' State Dinner by creating and submitting a recipe for Michelle Obama and the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest co-sponsored by food site Epicurious. Winners from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands were invited to attend the dinner.

"You have to make it yourself at home, and you take pictures, write your recipe and the story behind why you made it," Matheny said. "We basically wanted to do something that represented Maryland but was still super healthy, so we chose rockfish."

The result: her delicious and colorful Chesapeake Fish Tacos.

The contest, in its third year, is part of the First Lady's initiative to reduce childhood obesity. Entrants were asked to focus on healthy ingredients, but that didn't mean flavor wasn't important as well.

"You want it to be good for you and also good to eat," Matheny said.

Matheny comes from a family of cooking, baking, coffee-roasting and home-brewing enthusiasts. Her parents and family, she told CNN, inspired her to step into the kitchen.

"I just see other people in my family cooking and it makes me want to do it, too," she said.

Once she started to learn, her passion was ignited: Matheny attended two cooking camps this summer and one last summer.

Looking ahead, Matheny says it might be cool to grow up to be a chef. But for now, she's focused on picking up new skills and bringing to ideas to the table at home.

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Filed under: Kids • Video • White House

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Hello

    "and bringing to ideas to the table at home." Just a heads up, Mr. McPike.

    July 23, 2014 at 11:27 am |
  2. Partisan

    An eleven year old? Obama may be a little out of his intellectual depth, but I hope he can keep up.

    July 23, 2014 at 10:28 am |
  3. goatsandgreens

    This meal looks pretty good, although I don't see schools serving rockfish very much in the near future.

    July 22, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
  4. Angela

    Please this
    isn't a political story. Can the snark be stopped?. It's amazing that an 11 year old can put a healthy recipe together and aspires to keep helping her family eat healthy. No where in the story did it say it was a school lunch cafeteria competition so NO schools won't be stocking rockfish so relax.

    July 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm |
  5. michael gilbert

    When the world is going to pot, there is nothing like a fish taco to forget about reality.

    July 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
  6. The Enlightened Restauranteer

    Rock fish – yeah, the schools are going all out to buy rock fish.

    July 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
  7. D

    Congratulations on the win! The tacos look really tasty.

    July 21, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
  8. bobo

    Do the Fish Tacos have crack cocaine in it?

    July 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
    • hoho

      Don't know, but the pies do.

      July 21, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
  9. Carn E. Vore

    I'm going to continue to cook as I always have; so far it's guaranteed me that I'll never have to meet the Obamas and I don't want to mess with a perfect track record.

    July 21, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
    • Carn E. Vore

      Way to make ignorant assumptions. There's a large number of people out there that think that Obama is a bad president and ALSO think that Bush was a bad president. I know, two thoughts in the same head at the same time is probably hard for you to imagine.

      July 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
      • Sybil

        I hear voices…No you don't–Yes,I do.

        July 23, 2014 at 11:52 am |
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