Hinsdale boy looking forward to trip to White House
Jonah Schaik holds the recipe for Jonah's Pesto Pasta. The creation won him a trip to Washington, D.C., for a luncheon with first lady Michelle Obama. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2012 1:30AM
HINSDALE — Of the many ingredients that went into the Jonah’s Pesto Pasta recipe, which earned a 12-year-old Hinsdale boy a trip to the White House for lunch and a meeting with first lady Michelle Obama, it may have been the one non-food item that did the trick.
“I did this for fun, but I never though I would win,” Jonah Schaik said. “I was very surprised when I found out I had won. It really is exciting.”
The non-food ingredient in Jonah’s recipe is what sparked his interest in participating in the contest: love for his younger brother, Jacob, 10.
“My brother has some food allergies. I like having Pesto, but my brother can’t have it because of some of the ingredients,” Jonah said. “I decided to make it with no nuts or cheese because he can’t have those things.”
Jonah is one of 54 winners chosen to be recognized for their entries in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a nationwide challenge for children ages 8-12 to submit recipes that promote healthy lunches. The recipe challenge is part of the Let’s Move initiative instituted by Mrs. Obama.
Jonah and the other winners will join Mrs. Obama Aug. 20 for a healthy lunch, which will include several of the winning recipes and a tour of the White House kitchen garden.
“We do a lot of cooking at my house; I’ve been cooking since I was really little, and we cook a lot of healthy food,” Jonah said.
Jonah said he enjoys cooking and creating new recipes, even when they don’t earn him a trip to the White House.
“Making my own recipes probably is my favorite part of cooking,” said Jonah, who also plays youth ice hockey. “Making my own recipes is like being an artist; you can really be creative.”
Jonah’s mom, Madelyn Schaik, will go with him when he visits Washington, D.C., Aug. 19-21. She, too, was surprised and excited about the news of her son’s entry being selected.
“I cook with him all the time,” she said. “My mom cooked every day, and we pretty much do the same thing now.”
The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge received more than 1,200 entries, ranging from sizzling tofu with green onions to salmon salad. The 54 winners selected represent one from each state, one from Washington, D.C., and three from U.S. territories.
“It will be interesting meeting the other people who won,” Jonah said. “I definitely want to check out some of the other recipes, and I’ll probably use some of them, but change them a little bit.”
While Jonah isn’t expecting to meet the other half of the Obama couple, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of seeing the president.
“Maybe, if he’s not too busy,” Jonah said.