Noah Koch, 9 year-old Vegan Chef, Wins National Contest & Trip to the White House

photo by Jacques Wood

photo by Jacques Wood

Nine-year old Noah Koch, of Waterville, Maine, has won Michelle Obama’s national nutritious food contest with his recipe for “Vegan Powerhouse Pesto Pasta.” The grand prize will include meeting the First Lady at the White House. What wonderful validation for veganism, plant-based nutrition and this aspiring, young chef!

Noah’s dish was chosen from 1,300 entries by a panel of judges who used standards set by the USDA’s My Plate recommendations: a healthy meal should include all of the five food groups: fruit, vegetable, grain, protein and dairy, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate guidelines.The USDA suggests that half of a meal should be fruit and vegetables, at least half of the grains should be whole grains, protein should vary and be lean, and dairy should be fat-free or lowfat. Noah serves his pasta dish with a side of fruit salad and a glass of soy milk. Since Noah’s entry is vegan and doesn’t appear to contain any dairy, perhaps the judges have conceded that the vegan meal Noah cooked and assembled was just perfect without it!

 According to the Maine Morning Sentinel, Koch’s dish was inspired by his love for pesto and desire to improve its nutritious qualities. Pesto is typically heavy in cheese and oil, making it high in fat. The basil-based sauce also includes garlic and toasted pine nuts.

“I never really liked red sauce, but I always liked pesto,” Koch said. “What I really wanted it to be was a superfood, so I took out some of the oil and added some tomatoes, white beans, spinach and avocado.”

photo by Jacque Wood

photo by Jacques Wood

The Koch family has been trying to eat gluten-free and vegan. The winning recipe replaces many of the high calorie ingredients in traditional pesto with avocados, lemon juice, spinach, basil, walnuts, white beans, garlic and only 1/4 cup of olive oil. Noah serves it over gluten-free pasta and tops it with cherry tomatoes and beans.

This budding culinary star has been cooking for most of his 9 years and his future as the next generation of vegan chef looks bright! Vegans will be beaming with pride to see his star rise!

Congratulations to Noah for his ingenious and delicious recipe! And congratulations to Michelle Obama and her epicurean judges for choosing vegan and putting plant-based nutrition on a pedestal as a model of healthy and delicious eating.

To read more about Noah Koch and his story, click here to go to the article written by Jesse Scardina of the Maine Morning Sentinel.  Let’s hope Noah gets lots of press coverage at the White House.

P.S. Noah, if your “Vegan Powerhouse Pesto Pasta” recipe isn’t a a secret, we would love to post here on Vegan American Princess!!  I, for one, can’t wait to try it!

xox Ellen

VAP Photo of me retouchedDSCF0406-150x150



  1. Looks like you can get the recipe from the e-book at Epicurious. http://www.recipechallenge.epicurious.com/

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