BEAR – When Roisin Liew returns to Christ the Teacher School in a few months, she will have a great story to tell her friends about how she spent a couple of days in July.
Roisin (pronounced ROH-sheen), who is entering fourth grade, is one of 54 children from across the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to be named winners of the 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids “State Dinner.” She and her mother, Shannon, will travel to Washington, D.C., on July 17 for two days of activities, culminating with dinner with First Lady Michelle Obama on the 18th.
For the challenge, entrants had to come up with an original recipe that is healthy, tasty, affordable and has a story behind it. Roisin and Shannon kicked around a couple of ideas before settling on “Chi-Irish shepherd’s pie.” Roisin is half Irish and half Chinese.
“We were thinking about what we should make,” Roisin said recently at her home near Lums Pond State Park. “We thought about doing a Chinese-Irish shepherd’s pie. My mom and I were making it, and we sent it in. Michelle Obama had a sample of it, and she really liked it, and she picked it.”
According to Shannon Liew, the guidelines were posted at Epicurious.com, a website about food and cooking. The recipes had something from a variety of food groups.
“It also had to be enticing to kids her age who would want to be served this in a public school,” Shannon said.
Ingredients for the Chi-Irish shepherd’s pie include ground turkey, cauliflower, soy milk, bok choy, baby corn, carrots, onions, soy teriyaki sauce, Chinese spices, thyme and pepper salt, Shannon said.
“We thought about pizza, but everybody does pizza. That’s too easy. Then we thought about comfort foods. And I thought, ‘(Roisin’s) half Chinese and half Irish, and what do you like to eat. Let’s put a little bend on that.’”
Roisin’s father, FahPow, is from Malaysia but has lived in the United States for more than 30 years. He works for Dupont.
Shannon did the actual cooking, but Roisin was an equal partner, coming up with ingredients and measuring them.
Roisin – a Gaelic name meaning “little rose” – is excited to meet the First Lady and is hoping President Barack Obama crashes the dinner, as he did last summer. The Liews, who are members of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, also would like to meet the Obamas’ daughters and Vice President Joe Biden.
Shannon and Roisin had different reactions to finding out in mid-June that they had been selected to represent Delaware. Shannon was visiting the Brennan School, which her 11-year-old son Devin attended this past year, and waiting to speak with the principal.
“As I was standing there waiting, I just happened to look through my emails and saw it and was screaming. They said, what’s wrong? And I said my daughter just won this amazing award. We’re so thrilled about it, obviously,” she said.
That night at dinner, she informed Roisin, who took the news in stride. “When she got home she told me, and we were very excited,” Roisin said. “I didn’t run around. I was just hugging my mom a lot.”
Her schoolmates at Christ the Teacher found out soon after.
“I know on (June 13) when we had our school Mass, when (principal) Sister LaVerne (King) said it, everyone was very happy for me, and they said congratulations for me,” she said.
Sister LaVerne said she hopes to serve the meal for lunch at Christ the Teacher, “and we’ll make it a very special day for Roisin.”
Roisin “maintains a smile for everyone she meets. She is very special,” Sister LaVerne said.
“She is a straight-A student and the nicest child anyone could encounter,” she continued. “She always learns from her family and school and then soars to new heights with her own creativity and enthusiasm for learning.”
She has done all this as her father battles cancer, Sister LaVerne said. FahPow Liew will not make the trip to Washington so he can rest at home.
Roisin said she likes to help her mom prepare dinner, but she has other talents as well. She plays the piano, and last year she ran cross country and track for Christ the Teacher. This year, she is going to start playing volleyball.
As for her creation, Roisin wants just one thing.
“I just hope the people eating it like it.”