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President Obama teaches Bobby Flay a thing or two about grilling

Michelle Obama and Iron Chef team

We knew President Obama was a foodie, who at one point in his life even reviewed restaurants.


But who knew the prez has mad grilling skilz?


Chef Bobby Flay was speaking to the news media recently about Sunday night's special two-hour episode of "Iron Chef America," which goes to the White House for the first time. First Lady Michelle Obama will issue the challenge: Competitors are invited to pluck whatever they like from America's most famous garden and prepare five dishes that epitomize the ultimate American meal. Back in Kitchen Stadium, Flay and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford will go up against Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse. Judges include celebuchef Nigella Lawson, actress Jane Seymour and Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin. (Read more about Sunday night's show here.) 


During the media call, Flay noted that he had been to the White House before, invited to take part in an Obama initiative to mentor young men. While there, he struck up a conversation with the White House pastry chef who revealed that President Obama is quite at home in the kitchen and "can talk about banana cream pie for a really long time." At one point during the cookout portion of the mentoring event, Flay found himself -- where else? -- manning the barbecue. And out of the corner of his eye he saw the president walking toward him.


What was Flay thinking? "OK, here is the leader of the free world about to grab a pair of tongs with me. What am I supposed to do?"


As an icebreaker, Flay told Obama that he'd heard through the grapevine that the president was quite knowledgeable about food and cooking. The president struck a modest reply, "'Oh, no, I don't know much about it, but I'm interested,'" Flay recalled.


A moment later, Flay started to offer the president some gentle suggestions about what to do next at the barbecue. The president, Flay recalled, told him he needn't bother: "Hey, I know what I'm doing."


-- Rene Lynch


Photo: Check out chef Mario Batali's orange Crocs. Do you think he and Michelle Obama coordinated colors? From left, chefs Bobby Flay and Cristeta Comerford, "Iron Chef America" MC Alton Brown, the first lady, Batali and chef Emeril Lagasse. Credit: Food Network

 
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