Bite of Brainfood Blog

Tis the Season to...Celebrate!

As the year comes to an end and the holidays fall upon us, what better way to look back on all the great things we have accomplished then by having a party? On Wednesday, December 19th we did just that, by hosting our annual Brainfood Holiday Celebration.  And what a party it was!
The menu for the night was completely up to our students.  As Instructors, our only request was that each dish had to be homemade, by them! 


A Lesson on Respect

Blog post by Maeve Rafferty, Community MVPs Coordinator and instructor at Brainfood Mt. Vernon

I don’t like when they put me in a certain category, when they judge me for who I am with.

Or when they assume I don’t know something, just because I am young.

Knife Skills - a lesson for both the students and the teacher!


Blog Post by Nikki Allinson, Kitchen All Stars Instructor at Columbia Heights

The Kitchen All Stars program gives DC high school youth the opportunity to gain confidence in cooking difficult recipes. Each part of class – from the origin of our produce to the steps in the directions to how the food tastes – can hold meaningful lessons for our students.

Fall at Brainfood!

Blog post by Luisa Furstenberg-Beckman, Columbia Heights Kitchen All Stars instructor.

 Every year it seems like fall goes by in a flash. The leaves, the brisk air, the beautiful foliage arrive so quickly, not to mention the delicious seasonal foods: pumpkin, cinnamon, squash, sweet potatoes, and scrumptious baked goods!   

This fall at Brainfood, we have been cooking up a storm. Our Kitchen All Stars have been learning cooking from the ground up, starting with the basics: reading a recipe, measuring correctly, and learning about new kinds of kitchen equipment. After the first week we got into more exciting stuff: in our biscuit class, we used fresh sweet potatoes from the Brainfood Youth Garden to make sweet potato biscuits. YUM!! We learned that vegan food can be delicious (who knew?) when we made our vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes. We incorporated vegetables into baking, which shocked our students when we made delectable zucchini bread. 




Next week, our competitive spirits came out with our sandwich and pizza challenges. Students created their own signature sandwiches with the wacky, fun ingredients we provided, just as long as they used three different food groups and one ingredient they had never used before. Who knew that turkey bacon and nutella went together? We gave every sandwich shop in DC a run for its money with our original creations, and it was exciting to watch students explore their creative sides.



Food Day at Brainfood

October 24th was National Food Day.  Food Day ( is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Many events were scheduled in and around the DC area relating to the local and international food movement, food access and justice.  The main goal of Food Day is to strengthen the food movement to improve US food policies.  To celebrate Food Day, I decided to have a short discussion with the Chinatown classes to encourage our teens to add their opinions to the national food conversation.

Brainfood Grill Off 2012

By Brainfood Staffer Maeve Rafferty...

I believe we all crave to play, to work together, and maybe make a mess; maybe we’re all looking for a chance to get up out of our chairs and stuffy offices and create something, anything, brand new.

And if that something happens to be for a good cause? Even better. Our busy lives can make it difficult to find such outlets for creative expression, though the Brainfood Grill Off offers a space to do just that.

I remember hearing the logistics for the evening numerous times and feeling overly excited for the event, but also, I couldn't help from wondering: how such a thing could really happen?

You mean, teams are paired with a really talented local chef, who despite his or her expertise, can't really assist with the dish? And these dishes are made in one hour, with no recipe or prior knowledge of the ingredients provided, and then they’re judged? AND just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw a mystery protein in the mix too?


Bike Blender: Carrying Out the Brainfood Mission

By guest blogger, Julie Smith, Summer Intern

Our mission to promote healthy living has reached new levels with our bike blender! Not only are we making delicious and healthy recipes with the bike blender, but we are also incorporating exercise into our programing. It does it all: health, fitness, and fun.


Pay it Forward: My return to Brainfood

Submitted by guest blogger Khadijah Daniels, summer staff Intern....


Khadijah Daniels, center, as a Brainfood Summer Institute participant in 2007

If someone would have told me 5 years ago that I would be back as an intern for this very program, I would probably have laughed at them. I can't even begin to explain how honored and lucky I feel to have been a part of the Brainfood team this summer. Brainfood holds a special place in heart -- it’s the common contributor to the periods in my life where I feel I grew the most as a person. This program has done so much for me, so I made up my mind that I was going to give back in some way one day. When I found out I got the position, it was a huge deal for me because I had my heart set on working here. I felt like my life had come full circle -- my very first internship would be at a program that has been in my life since middle school.

Cooked to Perfection: A Successful Summer at Brainfood's Summer Institute

By Guest Blogger Cody Dunitz, Summer Intern

What a great summer it’s been here at Brainfood’s Summer Institute!  ‘How so?’ you may ask...well, here was the recipe for success in the kitchen this summer: Thirty cups of enthusiastic students (split evenly into six groups), four cups of fun and dedicated co-instructors, fifty-four tablespoons of mouth-watering recipes, five teaspoons of smiles, seven dollops of laughter (diced and tossed with the smiles), six cups of teamwork (you may substitute collaboration), one-third cup of willingness to try new foods, one and one-fourth cup of learning new knife skills (minced, batonneted, and julienned), and a quarter of a cup of ripe communication.


Open Kitchen Night 2012… “Greatness”

Written by LaSchelle' Owens, Summer Institute Instructor 2012

It has been a great summer! For 5 weeks students have grown individually as well as enhanced their cooking skills. Summer Institute Class 2012 Congrats!!! It has been well worth every moment of learning all about cooking, varying from knife skills, healthy alternatives, to cross contamination, and even a chance to prepare some dishes from a few international countries Jamaica, El Salvador and Thailand. Open Kitchen Night was designed to be a celebration of our student’s accomplishments and a chance for them to prepare and share their wonderful creations with their friends and family.

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