Michelle Obama ate well at Top Chef Kelly Liken's restaurant; you can, too, with this recipe
It's been a big week for Kelly Liken of Vail's Restaurant Kelly Liken, who was named a James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southwest (for the third time) -- and then fed Michelle Obama and three friends over the weekend. Liken recently competed on Top Chef, and Michelle Obama heard about her through White House chef Sam Kass, who judged an episode in which the contestants were told to create healthful school lunches. Liken is as passionate about kid nutrition and the importance of local and organic agriculture as is the First Lady herself, and she'd wowed Kass with her pork carnitas.
The prospect of cooking for the First Lady was both more and less scary than competing on Top Chef. "It was different scary," Liken says, "because to me, she's a role model."
Michelle Obama was "extremely knowledgeable about food and nutrition and the plight of the elementary schools, genuinely interested in what we were doing here with the Growing Seeds program, and passionate about her own Let's Move program," says Liken. And there were also some "lovely comments about our creativity and the freshness of our food."
The inane, derogatory comments that Rush Limbaugh made about the effect of Liken's braised short ribs on the First Lady's figure were far less lovely. But there's a more pressing issue to consider:
Is Michelle Obama a good tipper?
Liken hesitates. "I'm not sure about that question," she says, "but yes, very good."
Although serving the First Lady brought Colorado considerable culinary attention, Liken is particularly delighted at the number of Colorado chefs who've been recognized on the James Beard semi-finalist list -- and she's keeping her fingers crossed that she'll make the short list this time.
Her recipe for the short ribs she served Michelle Obama is already a winner: