Bite of Brainfood Blog

Community MVPs First Ever Graduation Ceremony!!

I have to say, this has been one amazing year at Brainfood!  With the launch of our pilot program, Community MVPs, everyone has been on their toes and working hard.  Last week the MVPs program culminated with a wonderful, heartwarming graduation.  After leading seven healthy cooking workshops, teaching over 250 workshop participants, winning a youth grant from Youth Service America, donating food, learning about food access in DC and public speaking skills the MVPs students were honored by their friends and family for all their accomplishments.  Of course, the class very willingly prepared delicious, and healthy, food for the event including: tuna melt bruschetta, black bean veggie burgers with guacamole, spinach lasagna cupcakes, whole wheat spice cookies and, a class favorite, vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes!  


And the Chefs’ Challenge winners are…

During our Graduation event on May 17th, our Brainfood Kitchen All Stars got a chance to compete in our annual Brainfood Chefs’ Challenge (an Iron Chef style cook off). Students worked in teams to create 3 original dishes in 70 minutes.  These dishes were by tasted by our awesome panel of judges!

All 7 teams completed the Chefs’ Challenge and made delicious looking and tasting dishes. Ultimately the judges determined our top 3 teams (based on points for teamwork, cleanliness of works station, creativity, presentation and taste).


Congrats to our winning teams! Check out photos of our winning teams and their dishes...


Brainfood Kitchen All Stars Class of 2012

It’s been quite an exciting year in the Brainfood kitchens. Our Kitchen All Stars classes at the Chinatown and Columbia Heights sites made over 125 different recipes and learned to cook from the ground up. More importantly they learned lots of transferable skills that they can use both inside and outside of the kitchen (i.e. teamwork, patience, how to delegate tasks, problem solving).

Brainfood Kitchen All Stars Class of 2012


MVPs host Chefs' Playtime event for Global Youth Service Day

Even the rain couldn’t stop this group of enthusiastic chefs.

They waded through hoards of rabid cherry blossom tourists, braved the positively gloomy weather, and arrived at our Chinatown site with one thing on their mind: pizza.  And they were in for a treat, because this was a pizza-making workshop unlike any that Brainfood staff or students had ever hosted before.

Community MVPs Get Their Coats

A post from Brainfood Staffer, Carolyn Panzarella...

On March 15th a proud group of students, parents, Brainfood staff, volunteers and board members got together to honor program’s first class of Community MVPs.  Students who had attended 60 or more hours were rewarded with their very own Chef’s coats!  Those who didn’t quite make 60 hours were given the colorful trademark Brainfood aprons. 

Guest Chefs Galore in the Columbia Heights Kitchen!

Over one exciting week in March the Brainfood Columbia Heights kitchen was filled with guest chefs bringing new ingredients, new skills and a ton of new food knowledge for our youth!

A BIG Brainfood thank you to John Murphy (Assistant Director of Kitchen Operations at Miriam’s Kitchen), Lynnette Jackson (Owner/Chef of Lynnette's Cakes and Catering), and Robert Barolin (Owner/Chef of City Square Cafe)!

First up was Chef John Murphy from Miriam’s Kitchen. John's passion for cooking started when he was very young but after years of working in professional kitchens he wanted more than just fame and turned his attention to using his cooking skills to give back to the community. He joined the Miriam’s Kitchen staff and has been making healthy foods for their clients ever since. Chef John brought all the fixings to make Tuna Ceviche, Carne Asada de Puerco with cumin whipped potatoes and charred jalapeno salsa and flan. The class divided up into 3 teams, put on their aprons, and worked diligently chopping, dicing, mixing and cooking up a storm. After some good teamwork, we got a chance to dig in and enjoy! Mmm it was delicious! It was hard for the students to choose the dish they enjoyed the most but two things were obvious – empty plates and smiling faces! Thanks John!

Guest Chef Shanna brought a taste of Asian Cuisine!

This past week we were fortunate to have another great Chef visit us in the Brainfood kitchen during our international week. Chef Shanna Follansbee, Chef/Cookbook Author is the chef/owner of Fine Dining Solutions, brought us a taste of Asia!

Guest Chef Roopal Saran at Brainfood!

Hello all Brainfood followers… Just in case you have not been keeping up with all the fun we have been having, we have started cooking international food!  As a part of our intro into international food, we were able to welcome guest Chef Roopal Saran!! Roopal, whom is also one of the Brainfood board members, brought us a delightful taste of INDIA!

Where are we traveling next?

From Guest Blogger Cara Oslager, Brainfood Program Intern...

Hello readers!

Here at Brainfood (in our Kitchen All Stars classes), we have been travelling the world and going to a different country each class!  For the rest of the school year, Brainfood Kitchen All Stars students will be learning how to cook foods from all over the globe.  So far, we have travelled to Greece, Jamaica, and Ethiopia and we are looking forward to continuing our travels after the students get back from Spring Break.

While “in” Greece, we were able to make a delicious meal consisting of Keftedes (Greek meatballs) with a cucumber dipping sauce, Kolokythokeftedes (zucchini and feta fritters), Spanakopita, and Baklava.  Yum!  Everything came out wonderfully as usual and luckily, there were no issues when it came to layering the delicate, buttery phyllo dough for the Spanakopita and Baklava.

Next we took a “flight” to warm, sunny Jamaica.  Here, we learned about Jamaica’s culture while making the well- known Coco Bread, spicy Curry Shrimp with Rice and Peas, and Jerk Chicken and Potato Skewers.  The students were very excited about the Coco Bread, as this was something they had eaten and loved previously.

We ended our adventure before Spring Break "in" Ethiopia.  Culturally, this was the most different from America.  We made Amhari (vegetable stew), Doro Wat (a chicken dish), and Gomen (spicy stewed collards served with cottage cheese) all served atop Injera (the native bread in Ethiopia)!  Students seemed a bit uneasy as we were about to dig into the dishes with just our hands, using the injera to help scoop up the food.  The uneasiness disappeared after their first bites and we ended class on a great note!

I can’t wait to see where we travel to next!   


Loving my time at Brainfood!

From Guest Blogger Melissa Zimmerman, Brainfood intern....

It has only been two months since I started interning and volunteering at Brainfood, but what an exciting two months it has been!  Time at Brainfood is fun, enjoyable and delicious! I always look forward to Mondays and Tuesdays to work with the Kitchen All Stars, anticipating the tasty meals we will be cooking for the night. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I would say the Lemon-Thyme Chicken, Jamaican Beef Patties and Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli have been some of my favorites. I have been amazed at how organized and skilled the students are when it comes to cooking, and have even learned a thing or two from them myself.  It’s great to witness their skill development and watch as they apply their knowledge and past workshop experiences to the next class.  The students have become increasingly efficient in their time management, cooking and cleaning and they work together extremely well.  The best part is when we all get to test out the foods at the end and see (and taste!) the hard work that has paid off.  Even better, the kids get to take home the leftovers to share with their friends and family, and to show everyone what’s been cooking at Brainfood.  I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the spring semester!

- Melissa Zimmerman, Brainfood Intern and student at George Washington University

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