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updated: 7/4/2014 4:43 PM

Palatine student, 12, will dine at first lady's dinner

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  • Tess Boghossian, 12, of Palatine won a contest to represent Illinois in a state dinner later this month hosted by Michelle Obama.

      Tess Boghossian, 12, of Palatine won a contest to represent Illinois in a state dinner later this month hosted by Michelle Obama.
    Courtesy of Debbie Boghossian

  • "She's just so interested in history," Debbie Boghossian says of her daughter, Tess, who recently earned an invite to a White House dinner hosted by Michelle Obama. "She's the perfect person to be able to have this experience."

      "She's just so interested in history," Debbie Boghossian says of her daughter, Tess, who recently earned an invite to a White House dinner hosted by Michelle Obama. "She's the perfect person to be able to have this experience."
    Courtesy of Debbie Boghossian

 
 

Tess Boghossian will dine with the first lady at an exclusive dinner in the White House.

How the Palatine 12-year-old earned an invite has something to with President Abraham Lincoln, quinoa and a little persistence.

"I think I'm just going to be a bundle of pride," says her mom, Debbie, who will join Tess at the "Kids' State Dinner" July 18.

Tess is one of 54 winners in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, part of Michelle Obama's fight against childhood obesity. It's competitive -- fielding 1,500 entries this year from kids who must whip up their own original, nutritious recipes.

Tess' dish -- Lincoln's Inaugural Soup -- packs quinoa, loads of veggies, white beans and skinless chicken breast.

"It's a real honor because I didn't think I'd win," Tess said. "I just entered it for fun."

The recipe pairs her two passions: American history and cooking. As a sixth-grader at Winston Campus Elementary School, she hit the books before she hit the kitchen. Her research inspired her to prepare a soup modeled on one served during Lincoln's inaugural meal.

"She's just so interested in history," her mom said. "She's the perfect person to be able to have this experience."

Tess admits her first batches tasted a tad bland. But after consulting with her mom, she added some "oomph," with fresh lemon juice and spices.

During her trip, she will tour the White House vegetable garden on the South Lawn.

The state dinner will highlight some of the winning recipes, but organizers have yet to release the menu. Tess will represent Illinois at the fête.

"It's really cool," she said.

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