Restaurant Revisited: Horton’s Kids

by in Shows, June 13th, 2012

In a special episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine faced his toughest challenge yet when First Lady Michelle Obama assigned him the task of rebuilding Horton’s Kids, a children’s community center that provides many services such as serving after-school meals in one of Washington, D.C.’s neediest neighborhoods. Mrs. Obama gave Robert three missions: Give Horton’s Kids a dining room, update their kitchen and create a community garden for them.

A few months after Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible-style transformation of Horton’s Kids, we checked in with Executive Director Brenda Chamberlain to see how the organization is doing. “Everyone loves and is impressed with the new, transformed Horton’s Kids!” says Brenda. “The vibrant space establishes a sense of community for the children.”

Robert Irvine and Horton's Kids

The brand-new kitchen and dining area have enabled Horton’s Kids to run cooking classes and hands-on nutrition programs more effectively. “During a recent class, we had kids sautéing vegetables, making omelets on the stovetop and blending fruit smoothies — all simultaneously,” says Brenda.

The dining/all-purpose room allows kids to sit down and share their meals together. Thanks to the collapsible tables and hang-able chairs, staff and volunteers have flexibility to arrange the space to meet the needs of various programs outside of meal times. The children love having a nice indoor space where they can hang out, chat with their friends and do homework. The computer lab that Microsoft donated has helped to bridge the technical divide often found in the Horton’s Kids community.

Planting Horton's Kids garden

In the garden, early summer vegetables are growing nicely. Horton’s Kids has started a children’s gardening club: “Kids are taking great pride in the garden,” says Brenda. The irrigation bike has proven to be a fun, creative way to engage the children in gardening, and they’re enjoying it “tremendously.”

After hearing the First Lady talk about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, the children are getting more adventurous and trying new kinds of produce. “They also enjoy knowing that they are growing vegetables and herbs they can eat,” Brenda says. In an upcoming class, the kids will be using the fresh basil to make pesto.

The future looks bright for Horton’s Kids: “With the help of our amazing volunteers and donors, the new space will soon allow us to serve many more children.”

To find out how you can make a difference in the lives of these children, visit

For a closer look at the transformation of Horton’s Kids, check out our photo gallery of Robert’s mission from the White House.

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Comments (619)

  1. MO stinks says:

    I have watched each and every episode of Restaurant Impossible as it is always for a worthy cause. However, I couldn't get past seeing that idiot Michele Obama on the TV that I turned it off within a minute. I'm sure that the cause Horton's Kids were worthy of Robert Irvine's help but having MO on it, caused a lot of folks to miss this show. She only did this to promote her book about the garden she has now. They always have something sneaky up their sleeves as they never do anything for others without expecting something in return. I can't wait until 2016 and then good riddance!

    • CarolAnn says:

      MO Stinks: Your handle describes you accurately. There no reason to call the First Lady an idiot. What kind of person can't manage to at least be respectful of the office. If that had been Laura Bush doing the same thing, you would have had no problem with it. But the truth is, YOU'RE the idiot. Only a sick, racist, pig would behave like you. I certainly hope you're not around any children because you're a disgusting role-model.

    • OGYaHerd says:

      Regarding her book, "All Proceeds Go To The National Park Service…"

    • dee says:

      I know you wrote this nearly a year ago but I still had to reply to your post. The First Lady has always been known for her interest in children and obesity. She's promoted movement to planting gardens. Politics have nothing to do with it.
      BTW, all proceeds from the book goes to the National Park System. So you obviously didn't bother to watch the episode yet felt free to comment on the episode. "stinks" is a perfect posting name for you.

    • Shelly C. says:

      I too am annoyed by Michelle Obama and how the focus was on her instead of Horton's kids. I too think they should have done the reveal first then let Michelle Obama come in after that. It detracted from what had all been done for the kids and their reaction was not seen as much since Michelle Obama came in when the reveal was being done. I do think the message was good and the kids got it and are excited about eating veggies and that was something they thought they hated. That all being said I enjoyed the show and loved what Chef Robert and his team did for these kids and I loved his cooking with vegetables and how the kids all loved them.

  2. @Katerine459 says:

    Ok, talking about the EPISODE *ahem*… I had mixed feelings about this episode.

    The good:
    – I liked seeing the makeover, as usual. I loved the volunteers' and organizer's reactions to the makeover.
    – I liked seeing Chef Robert teaching kids how to make veggies taste good.
    – I liked hearing the practicalities of HOW to build a community garden for kids explained. That was informative, which is always appreciated.
    – I liked seeing the kids enjoy their new space. That was about the only spot in the episode where their reactions seemed genuine – not rehearsed.

    The indifferent:
    – Mrs. Obama's speeches about childhood obesity. On the one hand, it is good to get the word out. On the other hand (and this is partly due to the fact that this episode aired almost two years ago but I only just saw it)… it didn't tell me anything new. And, in fact, it told me considerably less about childhood obesity than, say, watching "The Biggest Loser" has.

    The bad:
    I don't think I would have minded Mrs. Obama's role in the episode nearly as much, if it hadn't been SO transparent! For example:
    – We hear Chef Robert talking about what he needs to accomplish while he's there. Then he gets to the site, and surprise! There's a tablet with a message from "the First Lady, Michelle Obama," who tells him what she wants him to do… and it's the exact same thing that we just heard Chef Robert talk about in the car! And we're supposed to think that he really had no idea she was going to send him that "message?"
    – The big reveal to the head of Horton's Kids isn't about the renovation, it's about the "surprise" visit from "the First Lady, Michelle Obama." That was just annoying – the reveal should always be about the people and the site.
    – Chef Robert freely admits to having no idea how to set up a community garden for kids. Well, then, why was HE the one tasked with providing a community garden for kids? I'll tell you why: because he's the one with a nationwide show with an inbuilt audience, that's why.

    It's just one… long… commercial. And being aware that you're watching an infomercial always detracts from enjoying the good stuff. And there WAS good stuff. Don't get me wrong. But it was also a poorly-disguised infomercial.

    • dee says:

      Katerine, the "surprise" ipad with the First Lady – that's reality TV. Restaurant Impossible is a reality show although it's not like "Survivor" or "The Amazing Race".

      I know what you mean about the big reveal should have been about the building changes instead of Mrs. Obama. I think the changes should have been revealed first and then Mrs. Obama brought in.

  3. MiMi says:

    Thank you!!!!

  4. wcmann says:

    Another entertaining and humbling episode of an enjoyable and addicting series. 5 Stars to Chef Robert Irvine, First Lady Michelle Obama and all the good souls involved. Long live "Restaurant Impossible".

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