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11-year-old takes top prize for chili recipe

Michelle Obama gives Wisconsin boy a special shout-out

BROWNTOWN, Wis. - It's no ordinary chili.

The main ingredients are pumpkin, quinoa, and ground turkey.

It was cooked in a solar-powered oven.

It won Liam Kivirist a trip to the White House.

"It's just a lot of fun," Liam said. "It's kind of putting your passion into food and then sharing it with other people."

The 11-year-old tried out the recipe three or four times before perfecting it. Kivirist then entered it in the Let's Move Lunchtime Challenge.

Young cooks ages 6 to 12 from all over the country turned in their best healthy recipes. There were 54 finalists in all, and each of their dishes was published in a cookbook.

Only one recipe from every state could be chosen, and Liam's chili beat out Wisconsin's competition.

"The whole thing of this chili is to go out into your garden, to pick all of these veggies, to come back inside, to put it all in a pot, to put this pot in your solar oven and just let it simmer and amaze," Liam said. "That's the whole point of this chili."

Liam got the invitation to a state dinner for kids when he least expected it.

"I woke up in the morning. My mom called me over, and she told me," Liam explained, "and I was just like, mind blown. It was so cool because it had just slipped out of my mind."

Liam just returned from his trip, one where he was treated to a pizza party, toured the president's garden, and got special recognition from first lady Michelle Obama for the Harvest Ninjas program he started to spread the word on childhood hunger.

"Michelle Obama kind of gave a shout-out to it," Liam said, "which is pretty cool for a program that has about 20 members."

The ingredients for the chili or any of Liam's culinary endeavors aren't hard to find. His parents, Lisa and John, run a bed and breakfast and have a big garden going in the back yard. Liam's been picking the rows of vegetables since he was very young.

"If we get kids excited about food, it's something that will stay with them their whole life and be an important part," mom Lisa said.

Lisa joined Liam on the trip to D.C. She said the kids were treated like formal guests, and she was very proud to be accompanying her son.

"We may have a long way to go in really embracing sustainability on all fronts," Lisa said, "but the fact that the White House has recognized this from a small town in Wisconsin with a population of 200 is very inspiring to us to keep going in our own personal mission and to share that."

Liam said people need to step away from the microwave and start cooking again.

"It's something that I feel is very important is to get people back into the kitchen," Liam said.

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Michelle Obama gives Wisconsin boy a special shout-out

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