Michelle Obama is again teaming up with streaming platform Netflix but, this time, she’ll be working with puppets as well on her new children’s cooking show Waffles + Mochi.
“Once upon a thyme, deep in The Land of Frozen Food, lived two best friends named Waffles and Mochi with one shared dream: to become chefs,” a synopsis reads. “The only problem? Everything they cooked was made of ice. When these two taste-buddies are suddenly hired as the freshest employees of a whimsical supermarket, they’re ready for the culinary adventure of a lifetime. With the help of friendly new faces like Mrs. Obama, the supermarket owner, and a magical flying shopping cart as their guide, Waffles and Mochi blast off on global ingredient missions, travelling to kitchens, restaurants, farms and homes all over the world, cooking up recipes with everyday ingredients alongside renowned chefs, home cooks, kids and celebrities.
“Whether they’re picking potatoes in the Andes of Peru, sampling spices in Italy, or making Miso in Japan, these curious explorers uncover the wonder of food and discover every meal is a chance to make new friends. Waffles + Mochi is an exciting invitation to get kids and grown-ups cooking together in the kitchen and connecting to cultures around the globe.”
The new show launched on March 16 and is “all about good food: discovering it, cooking it, and of course, eating it,” the former first lady posted on Instagram on Tuesday. Obama also confirmed that the 20-minute episodes will combine live action and puppets. “I couldn’t be more excited to join in this hilarious, heartwarming, and simply magical show — and I’m not just saying that because of the flying shopping cart,” she said in a statement. “I only wish Waffles + Mochi had been around when my daughters were growing up, because it’s the kind of program that’s fun to watch together as a family, and gives parents the peace of mind to know that their little ones are learning something, too.
“In many ways, Waffles + Mochi is an extension of my work to support children’s health as First Lady. We know that everybody loves good food and a good story. And that’s exactly what our curious and adventurous heroes provide, whether they’re discovering the possibilities of potatoes, the world of pickling, or the art of cleaning up a cracked egg. And I’m thrilled that Waffles and Mochi are also getting involved off-set, working with the Partnership for a Healthier America to help kids develop healthy habits and help families gain access to fresh ingredients for cooking together at home. No matter what they’re up to, I always have such a wonderful time laughing and exploring the world of food and cooking with Waffles and Mochi — and I think you and your children will, too.”
With celebrity guests like Common, Jack Black, Rashida Jones, Tan France and Zach Galifianakis, Obama is putting all her eggs into the future in a bid to celebrate the children. Following its premiere, Netflix has provided us with10 things you might not know from the making of this one-of-a-kind show.
See the full list, below.
10 things you didn’t know about Michelle Obama show ‘Waffles + Mochi’
- For star and executive producer Michelle Obama, Waffles + Mochi gave her the chance to extend the work she did as First Lady to support children’s health.
- Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit organisation created in conjunction with Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! effort, will also run an impact campaign aimed at meaningfully shifting our food culture. Leveraging themes from Waffles + Mochi, they will launch programs with retailers, food banks, and other entities across the U.S. food system to help children and parents learn to have fun and engage with food and ingredients — as they also become healthier.
- Series creators Erika Thormahlen and Jeremy Konner have known each other since their early 20s. After a career as an actress, Thormahlen went on to become an early childhood educator while Konner pursued a career in Hollywood and co-created the hit comedy series Drunk History. The series marks the culmination of a 15-year-long dream for the longtime friends, whose fields of expertise (and mutual love of food) created the perfect combination of wit and whimsy.
- Konner is a close family friend of Elinor Ochs, a professor of Anthropology at UCLA who conducted studies with families and found that some of the most stressful moments of their day surrounded mealtimes. It was her research that served as inspiration for Konner and Thormahlen to seek ways to alleviate the stresses around everyday negotiations between parents and their kids about food and turn the conversations into a shared experience that would excite everyone.
- Head puppeteer Michelle Zamora is self-taught and began building her own puppets while she was a student at Cal State Los Angeles. Before she became the CEO of her own company, Viva la Puppet, in 2014, Zamora was one of the few women of colour coming up in the world of professional puppeteering. Diversity now plays a big part in every job she takes on through her company.
- While Waffles and Mochi were built by Swazzle, Michelle Zamora’s Viva la Puppet was responsible for building Steve the Mop, Busy, and Shelfie. Zamora also had a hand in building Waffles’s mouth and palate, which was customized with a special opening in the back that allowed Waffles to “swallow” actual food without making a mess—unlike Cookie Monster’s iconic crumbs that go flying everywhere.
- Any time Waffles tasted a new dish (like Chef Massimo’s tortellini!), Michelle Zamora was simultaneously spoonfed bites so she could experience the flavours in real time, bringing an authentic sense of wonder and delight to Waffles’s reaction.
- There are at least nine nationalities represented among the staff at Orient Experience, Chef Hamed Ahmadi’s restaurant in Venice: Afghan, Syrian, Bangladeshi, Nigerian, Albanian, Pakistani, Italian, Turkish, and Guinean. Not only is the entire restaurant staffed by refugees, but everyone is encouraged to bring a flavour or a dish from their home country.
- The omurice segment in the egg episode was inspired by a scene from the 1985 film Tampopo.
- Chef Mashama Bailey’s restaurant, The Grey, was formerly a Greyhound bus terminal.