When Robert Irvine normally shows up at a restaurant, he’s confronting tacky décor or a snarly wait staff or badly prepared food. Or all three. And in a whirlwind, the host of “Restaurant: Impossible” turns a failing business into an appealing place for a meal.
His Food Network show does a wizard-quick rehab on the food, the staff and the surroundings – sometimes with tears and a little yelling, always with lots of elbow grease. This week, Irvine faces what he says was his biggest challenge: Put a garden and a kitchen and dining area into a Washington after-school program good enough to get Michelle Obama’s endorsement.
The first lady has made a priority of working to halt childhood obesity -- planting a garden on the White House lawn and appearing many times to promote healthful eating and active lifestyles. About 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese in this country.
Irvine, a muscular English native, said in a telephone interview last week that he and his team planted peas, lettuce and tomatoes, among other vegetables, at Horton’s Kids, a children’s community center in one of Washington’s neediest neighborhoods. The idea is that the children in the program will tend the garden.