Ian Knox, executive chef for the Blair House, the president of the United States’ guesthouse, has cooked for a long list of world leaders and dignitaries, including five different U.S. presidents and major world leaders such as Queen Elizabeth II of England.
On Monday, students at Springville Elementary School were added to Knox’s list of diners.
Students at Springville Elementary School got a chance to meet Knox during two healthy eating assemblies. Knox prepared a few fish and vegetable dishes for the students at the event.
Knox’s trip to Springville was made possible thanks to Joe Buonadonna, a parent of a student at the school. Buonadonna works for Samuels and Son Seafood Company in Philadelphia and has sold food products to Knox in the past. Buonadonna said he was excited to spread the message about healthy eating to students at Springville through a well-known chef.
Knox has taken an active role in promoting healthy eating in recent years, working with First Lady Michelle Obama on her Healthy Eating Initiative.
Knox doesn’t just talk about eating healthy. A change in his diet years ago helped him improve his own health.
“I’m a type-two diabetic,” he said. “I was able to get everything in order by eating healthy.”
Spreading the word about healthy eating is something Knox is passionate about. He has done similar assemblies in schools across the country thanks to a network of connections and friends he has forged. He emphasized the importance of spreading his message to today’s children.
“It’s getting out to the community,” he said. “The federal government encourages us to go in the community and spread healthy eating to kids.”
During the assembly, Knox, Buonadonna and Carol Shapcott from Whole Foods spoke to the students of the importance of eating healthy. Fish was the main topic of discussion, with Buonadonna and Shapcott showing the students different types of seafood as Knox cooked salmon, mahi mahi and other dishes.
Shapcott taught the students the importance of checking what type of fish they are eating and keeping the ocean sustainable.
“We care very deeply about where our seafood comes from,” she said.
Buonadonna brought some fish to show to the students while Whole Foods provided the cooking ingredients for Knox.
About 100 students from grades kindergarten to four were chosen to go up on stage throughout the event to try some of Knox’s dishes. The students were chosen based on their essays entitled, “How I Am An Adventurous Eater.”
Knox was pleased to see a positive response from the students when it came to the dishes. He feels kids today are much more aware and open to healthy eating than in the past.
“In 27 years, a lot of things have changed,” he said.
At the end of the assembly, students were encouraged to ask Knox a variety of questions. Students asked about what food President Barack Obama eats, what Knox’s favorite food to cook is and which foreign dignitaries Knox enjoyed cooking for the most.
But one student’s question really captured the heart of Knox’s message. Knox was asked what food he enjoyed cooking the most. Knox said he couldn’t choose one single food. His role as chef is not about what food he enjoys, but rather what food the people he’s cooking for enjoy.
“I enjoy making people happy,” he said.
Knox was happy at Springville as he watched dozens of students not only eat his healthy dishes, but enjoy them as well.