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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