Posted by Arab American Institute on July 17, 2014 in Blog

Arab American Kinnan Hammond-Dowie, age 12, was selected as a winner of this year’s “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.” He was honored today at the annual White House’s Kids State Dinner for his dish, “Mediterranean Kebabs with Cilantro Tabbouleh”. First Lady Michelle Obama launched this challenge as part of the “Let’s Move” campaign to reduce childhood obesity.

Kinnan’s healthy kebab and tabbouleh recipe comes from his rich cultural heritage and his childhood spent cooking alongside his Syrian mother and grandmother. Kinnan displayed an undeniable affinity for cooking, and at a young age was rolling grape leaves and shaping sfeeha! When asked to create a healthy recipe for the First Lady’s contest, Kinnan naturally chose a Arab dish. Kinnan’s winning recipe can be found on the White House’s website.

Kinnan’s great Grandfather, Joseph Saback , left Damascus in the early 1910s and settled in Ohio where he worked in a steel mill and sent money home to bring his family to the US. A true entrepreneur, Joseph soon opened an ice cream shop and a grocery store in Bridgeport, Ohio.

Kinnan’s great-grandmother, Emily Ayick Saback, came to the US as a young girl of about 11 or 12. Her family eventually settled in Rhode Island, bringing their family weaving business along with them. In Rhode Island, Kinnan’s family helped establish the St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where Kinnan and his brothers were baptized. The church continues to reinforce his family’s history and his great pride in his Middle Eastern identity.

Kinnan’s success has caught the eye of his hometown, where he was awarded the key to the city of Pawtucket and a citation from Mayor Donald Grebien.

The Arab American Institute congratulates Kinnan for his accomplishments and for bringing delicious Arab cuisine into the White House’s spotlight. Congrats Kinnan!