Ilianna Gonzales-Evans got a prime spot at the White House kids state dinner — right next to first lady Michelle Obama. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Ilianna Gonzales-Evans had a lucky day Monday. The D.C. sixth-grader knew she was headed to a White House lunch for winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recipe contest. But seated next to her would be none other than Michelle Obama.

Ilianna, who talked to KidsPost just before lunch, mentioned a question she had for the first lady.

“What’s your favorite food?” Ilianna said.

The food question would be fair game, as the first lady hosted 54 young chefs — including Columbia’s Sam Hightower and Reston’s Madeleine Steppel. The menu? A sampling of the winning recipes, including Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes.

“You are going to inspire kids to get in the kitchen,” Obama told the winners, who were among 1,200 entrants to the Epicurious .com contest. “I’m so proud of you.”

The kids were treated to a surprise visit from the president and a performance by the band Big Time Rush.

Big Time Rush performs during the luncheon. The band, which sang three songs, invited kids to sit by the stage while they sang. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Christina Barron