Two military 'Chopped' winners invited to cook for White House

 July 2, 2023

Two military chefs who were crowned champions earlier this year for the popular Food Network show "Chopped" are spending their holiday weekend preparing food in the executive kitchen at the White House. 

According to the Associated Press, Air Force chef Opal Poullard, 37, and Marine Corps chef Dustin Lewis, 34, were invited by first lady Jill Biden to cook for the White House this weekend.

The first lady had made a special appearance in a May episode of "Chopped" when a team of military chefs defeated a team of Food Network celebrity chefs.

Jill Biden made the appearance on the show in May as part of an ongoing effort to show that the White House supports active-duty and retired troops.

What happened?

Lewis and Poullard were invited to cook in the executive mansion Friday, where they prepared several dishes for the first lady to sample.

The first lady also reportedly met with the Navy Mess staff, who help prepare meals for the White House.

Lewis reportedly prepared his signature dish, which the AP reported was "lemon-herb scallops with wild mushroom parmesan risotto and roasted asparagus with white truffle herb oil and charred focaccia."

Poullard's dish, inspired by her visit to Rome, was "braised osso buco, or veal shanks, served with polenta, shaved parmesan, crispy fennel and shallots."

The AP said Poullard is a "Los Angeles native based at Fort Gregg-Adams in Virginia, where she is an advanced culinary instructor." Lewis was "born in Dayton, Ohio, and is stationed in North Carolina, most recently was executive chef to the Marine Corps commandant.


Social media users were critical of the ordeal, not of the two military chefs, but of the Food Network and the first lady for appearing political.

"Dear @FoodNetwork.One reason I watch many of your shows is because of no politics. Please don’t go down that road. Thank you. You can show the great work of the our military men and women without it!" one Twitter user wrote.

"Of course you eat well while the citizens starve," another Twitter user added.

Either way, the two servicemembers invited to cook at the White House deserve all the respect in the world for their service, and their extraordinary culinary skills.

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