Cafe Society

How does Michelle Obama's garden grow? Find out on Iron Chef America

First, Michelle Obama caught the attention of carrot stalkers when she corralled a group of Washington, D.C., schoolkids to help her garden grow on the White House's South Lawn; she also pimped her garden on Sesame Street.

Then Spike Mendelsohn, burger wizard, former Top Chef Chicago contestant and the exec chef of Good Stuff Eatery in D.C., named a burger after the First Lady. Made with free-range turkey, Swiss, caramelized onions and several of the herbs grown in the White House garden, he called it the "Michelle Melt" and donated the proceeds to a D.C. nonprofit that feeds the city's homeless population.

And on Tuesday night's episode of The Biggest Loser, Obama's garden was, again, prominently featured -- even if she wasn't.

But now comes word that the First Lady will appear on the January 3, 2010, premiere of the Food Network's Iron Chef America.

The two-hour episode, which will feature 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue chef Cristeta Comerford and Bobby Flay battling it out against Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse in Kitchen Stadium, will show Michelle Obama revealing the secret ingredient that the chefs fling at each other have to use during the competition, which is always a blur of sweat, sprints, furrowed brows and Bobby Flay behaving like a toddler who just went through a series of Tetanus shots. Comerford must be pissed.

Anyway ... The secret ingredient? Pretty much any of the herbs or vegetables that grow in the White House garden. The challenge? To create a five-course American meal. As usual, Food Network geek Alton Brown will host the show, and in a move that will likely force half of the viewers to bury their heads in their popcorn bowls, Ted Allen, from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, will work the floor, darting in between Lagasse and Flay to convince one or both that they're really gay and need a new wardrobe.

Meantime, Michelle Obama will use her cameo to talk about her commitment to ending childhood obesity through farmers' markets, exercise (she likes the hula hoop), nutritious recipes, communal gardens and improved school lunch programs, all of which fall under the White House policy initiatives to get kids healthy.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson