Kid chef Amber Kelley dines at the White House

  • Written by Shannon Michael, Features Writer

Amber KelleyPhoto by Yohko Kelley. Amber Kelley, of Woodinville, had the honor of sitting beside First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House on July 9 when she was one of 54 kid chef Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recipe contest winners invited to a Kids’ State Dinner. Amber’s recipe for Nummy No-Noodle Lasagna was selected as Washington state’s winning recipe. Woodinville resident Amber Kelley is one very lucky girl.

First, the 10-year-old’s recipe for Nummy No-Noodle Lasagna was selected to represent Washington state in a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.

Next, she was invited, along with the other 49 state, three territory and one District of Columbia kid chef winners, to attend the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ State Dinner at the White House, hosted by Mrs. Obama on July 9.

But, nothing prepared her for when she arrived in the East Room to find her seat and discovered she would be sitting right next to the First Lady.

Amber, who already has her own online cooking show and website,, blogged, tweeted and posted photos about her experiences in Washington, D.C.  The ambitious elementary school student also regularly appears on Q13 Fox Morning News for weekly cooking segments during summer vacation.

That caught the attention of Mrs. Obama, who in her opening remarks, mentioned Amber’s accomplishments. Later, President Obama surprised the attendees when he appeared, made a few remarks, then took the time to go around to each table and meet the winners.

“I will never forget sitting next to Mrs. Obama for the lunch and talking with her about all sorts of things. Meeting the President of the United States was amazing, too. Just being in the White House in general was kind of hard to believe!,” Amber said in an email interview after her return from the other Washington.  She attended the D.C. festivities accompanied by her mother, Yohko Kelley.

The Kids’ State Dinner, actually a luncheon, featured some of the winning recipes. “I really liked the Zucchini Cornbread because they were small, bite-sized pieces, and they were absolutely DELICIOUS!,” said Amber, adding, “but I also loved the Fun Mini Pizzas with Veggies and a Cauliflower Crust. It’s gluten-free, but you can’t even tell! It was so yummy!”

Mrs. Obama made sure to let the kids, and their parents, know that some of the foods served were meant to be eaten with their fingers, and that it was perfectly okay to do so in the White House. Later, the president told the guests they were lucky because she never lets him eat with his fingers at a State Dinner.

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ State Dinner invited a parent or guardian to work with their child ages 8-12 to create a lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable, original and delicious.  

“Our Kids’ State Dinner is one of my favorite events of the year, and the kid chefs who come from around the country never cease to impress and inspire me with their creativity and ingenuity,” said First Lady Michelle Obama through a press release issued by the White House.  

In support of Let’s Move!, launched by the First Lady to help solve the problem of childhood obesity, each recipe adhered to the guidance that supports USDA’s MyPlate (at to ensure that the criteria of a healthy meal were met. Entries had to represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods, with fruits and veggies making up roughly half the plate or recipe.

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, which was originated by Epicurious to promote healthy eating among America’s youth, received more than 1,300 entries this year.

The full list of winners and recipes can be found online at  The site has provided a downloadable cookbook with the winning recipes.

City seeks $1 million reimbursement from developer of wine village

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman, Contributing Writer

WOODINVILLE — The Woodinville City Council will appeal a court ruling that declared the developer of Woodinville Village mixed-use wine development does not have to pay the city back for $1 million of road improvements.

The project, which will feature villas, several local wineries, restaurants, a hotel and shops, began development in the early 2000s. After the original developer, MJR Development, faced financial troubles, a new developer, Legacy Commercial, bought the note.

The City of Woodinville agreed to work with Woodinville Village Associates (part of MJR Development) to build three roundabouts on SR 202 bordering WVA’s property, according to a press release from the City of Woodinville, and WVA agreed to reimburse Woodinville for the cost of frontage improvements on the road. When WVA went into debt, Woodinville obtained a court judgment ordering WVA to pay $1 million.
Now, the city of Woodinville has filed an appeal challenging the King County Superior Court’s decision that Legacy Commercial does not have to pay for the roundabouts and other frontage improvements to the curbs, gutters, sidewalks and lighting.

“I hope it’s something that we can resolve amicably,” City Councilmember Liz Aspen said. “...It is a great project and we all want to see it happen.”

She explained that the city had already planned to build two roundabouts in that area. The Woodinville Village development required a third roundabout. It was cheaper to build all three roundabouts at the same time, so the city built them all with the expectation that the developers would pay the city back.

Although he said “the city of Woodinville has to do what they think is right to do,” Walter Scott of Legacy Commercial said the appeal is “unfortunate from the standpoint that we consider it a waste of resources. It’s going to delay our project.”

He also pointed out that the amount of money Woodinville Village will bring in from sales tax and permit fees is “way in excess of the amounts being argued about.”

He said WVA – not Legacy Commercial – agreed to the $1 million cost for the frontage improvements. Legacy Commercial acknowledges it needs to pay the city for the improvements, but it disputes how much it owes to the city.

“When we bought the property, we knew that the exact amount was in question,” he said. “...We definitely think it should be a lower amount.”
The appeal process will take about 18 months, Scott said, and Legacy Commercial likely won’t proceed with development until the lawsuit is over. He believes the Court of Appeals’ ruling will be the same as the original decision.

City Council plans for Woodinville’s future

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman, Contributing Writer

Over the next two years, the City of Woodinville will update its comprehensive plan — the document that will guide Woodinville’s growth for the next 20 years — to make it more user-friendly, according to a discussion between council members and consultants at the July 9 City Council meeting.

The comprehensive plan contains guidelines for the city’s physical development, land uses, infrastructure, community services and regulations.
State policy requires every city’s comprehensive plan to address several categories — including land use, transportation, housing, utilities and capital facilities — and provide goals and policies for each.

The city’s consultants predicted that most changes would be minor.

“We haven’t seen anything that throws up any big red flags,” said Kevin Gifford, an urban planner and GIS analyst for BERK Consulting. “We don’t see any major issues that need to be addressed to make this consistent. It’s mostly small stuff.”

However, there are new requirements for regional transportation.

The comprehensive plan should focus on working with regional transit leaders and promoting carpooling, ride sharing and using transit, Gifford said.

Bob Bengford, a partner in MAKERS Architecture and Urban Design, said the consultants need to work with the city to make the zoning code better-organized, illustrated and “more user-friendly.” He suggested cleaning up the Permitted Use section of the code and reviewing commercial design standards.

“Certainly, when you look at it online, there’s lots of room for improvement there,” he said.

He suggested using online tools such as pop-up definitions and cross-referencing to make the zoning code (which will be rewritten at the sametime as the updates to the comprehensive plan) easier to understand.

Councilmember Paulette Bauman said the city should try to find a balance between commercial, tourism and residential uses in the revised code.

“We’ve got commercial design standards; we’ve spent a great deal of time with downtown zoning, and now we’ve worked on residential issues,” Bauman said. “But the question that still remains is, ‘How much tourism is good and how much is too much?’”

The council and the consultants also looked for ways for the public to participate in updating the comprehensive plan.

Suggestions ranged from the fairly typical — such as phone and mail surveys — to more creative ideas such as webinars and Skype chats, meetings at the farmers market, and posting QR codes around town.

The city should try to meet with citizens in places that are convenient and comfortable for the citizens, rather than asking citizens to come to City Hall to voice their opinions, Councilmember Scott Hageman said.

The new comprehensive plan will be completed by 2015.

The city’s (first and current) comprehensive plan, which was adopted in 1996 and most recently updated in 2009, can be found online at

Neighbors to Save Wellington presents flower arranging demonstrations

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Neighbors to Save Wellington Park, a local organization fighting for appropriate development of Wellington Park, is working with two local master instructors to present demonstrations of Japanese flower arranging (ikebana) and martial arts, at Shintokan Dojo near downtown Woodinville.

The demonstrations will be on Saturday, July 20, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the  Dojo, 19112 152nd Ave NE in Woodinville. The dojo is near the intersection of Woodinville-Duvall Road and 156th Ave NE; admission is by donation. This is a unique opportunity to watch Nobuku and Phil Relnick practice their arts at their dojo.  For more information, please go to

Correction: July 15, 2013

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

In the July 8 front page story, “Council works to end bullying among council members,” the following quote should have been attributed to Councilmember Liz Aspen: “In the Code, council members need to be held to a higher standard ... We will never always agree, but we need to be able to conduct city business without these attacks that have nothing to do with the issues.”