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 (616)

  1. @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.

  2. 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".

  3. Just me says:

    You say that others have made this a political issue? How about your horrid comments telling people they should kill themselves!?!? You are worse than them! The Obama's are the most hated people that have ever resided in the White House and, like you, we all have a right to our opinions. So learn to move on and read comments that you enjoy rather than bashing others.

  4. MiMi says:

    Thank you!!!!

  5. CarolAnn says:

    Just Me: "The Obama's are the most hated people that have ever resided in the White House" is both a complete lie and totally ridiculous. Plenty of Presidents have been totally hated; it's nothing new. My grandmother hated the Roosevelts with a purple passion, as did many people. My father couldn't have a conversation that didn't bash Reagan. So what. Apparently not everyone hates the Obama's since they got elected twice. You LOST!! Get over it. It's not the end of the world—grow up! The truth is you a racist pig!

    If the show had been about a bunch of poor little WHITE kids you would have been all over it.

    And I bet you call yourself a Christian. If you, do then you're a hypocrite, too.

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