Restaurant owner in awe of a chilled Michelle

24 June 2011 - 01:41 By ANDILE NDLOVU
US first lady Michelle Obama speaking at Regina Mundi, Rockville, Soweto Picture: ALON SKUY
US first lady Michelle Obama speaking at Regina Mundi, Rockville, Soweto Picture: ALON SKUY

US first lady Michelle Obama proved why she labelled herself a "normal" first lady when she took her family out to lunch at The Kitchen - an eatery in Woodstock, Cape Town, yesterday.

Owner Karen Dudley was on an adrenalin high after the Obamas' visit to her restaurant.

Barely able to string a sentence together out of excitement, Dudley said: "She was so fabulous, and so warm and so down to earth - I was talking to her like any other customer who comes to the shop.

"I think people that have that kind of greatness and are so cool with themselves and so not stuck up are wonderful."

The first lady was with her mother Marian, daughters Malia Ann, 13, Sasha, 10, and their cousins Avery and Leslie. The US ambassador to South Africa, Donald Gips, and his wife, Liz Berry, were also present.

This is after the touring party's planned trip to Robben Island was cancelled due to rough seas and generally inclement weather in the Mother City.

Dudley said the children had "Love Sandwiches" (which range between R30 and R50), a customer favourite. The sandwiches came with home-made pestos, mayonnaise, pickles, tomato and salad. The family drank lemonade and locally produced "Bos" (organic rooibos) ice tea.

The first lady had a variety of salads including their "beetroot apple coriander salad", and a fragranced rice with caramelised onion and aubergine. Salads at The Kitchen cost about R50 each.

So chilled was the atmosphere that customers were still allowed to come into the restaurant, while security and the press lurked around on Main Road.

"We feel so honoured ... of course we had to move furniture around and make space, but it worked out well," said Dudley.

"We took lots of pictures ... I can't tell you about the feeling of having her here."

The US embassy's Elizabeth Trudeau said Obama did not bring a personal chef to South Africa.

Meanwhile, instead of choosing a secluded hotel for her and the family, the Obamas stayed at the five-star Radisson Blu hotel in Sandton for the Johannesburg leg of the trip.

The Obamas will be in Gaborone, Botswana, for the last leg of their six-day trip, before they fly to the US on Sunday.