It was a highly anticipated episode: Mario, Bobby, Emeril, and the White House executive chef, Cristeta Cornerford would all be there. The secret ingredient? Any vegetable from the White House vegetable garden. And the 7.6 million viewers that tuned in to Iron Chef America on January 3 also got the promised cameo of the woman we all want to be friends with, First Lady Michelle Obama.
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But now the magic is dead. After rumors spread regarding the validity of the secret ingredients' origin, the Food Network admitted that the vegetables used during filming were not actually from the White House garden. They were replacements ... stunt-doubles ... fakes. Lisa Krueger, spokesperson for the network, explained, "Due to the production delay between the shoot at the White House and the shoot at Food Network, the produce used in Kitchen Stadium during the "Super Chef Battle" was not actually from the White House garden." Honey was the only ingredient that came directly from the White House address, while the the actual vegetables, said Krueger, were "locally sourced."
The White House garden produce was donated to a local charity and similar product was purchased for the Iron Chef filming in New York City.