Bite of Brainfood Blog

It’s party time at Brainfood!

After 12 fun filled weeks of baking, mixing, chopping, sautéing and skill building, Brainfood students got to show off their talents right before winter break at the annual Brainfood Holiday Party. It was a busy week of preparation but was a great opportunity for our participants to display all they have learned in the kitchen. For the party, Brainfood students prepared their favorite recipes: oven baked fries, cheddar biscuits, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, mini Pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes, corn chowder, and 10 different types of pizza for their family and friends to taste and enjoy. They also made delicious sugar cookies that we decorated and then donated to THRIVE DC, our community service partner. 

Bubble Tea and Teacher Training at the Grand Hyatt

The Community MVPs rang in December with a fun field trip to DC’s lovely Grand Hyatt.  Staff from the hotel’s restaurant, Cure, and from the human resources department helped to make our experience very enjoyable.  Four lucky ladies were chosen to stay behind to do a “secret” workshop with managers from Cure while the rest of the group was led on a tour of the hotel. 


Stir Fry, Second Graders, and the first Community MVPs workshop

Brainfood MVPs set off for their first workshop Thursday, November 3rd.   Our plan was to go to Walker Jones Elementary school and work with second and third graders to harvest some vegetables from their huge school garden and then incorporate those vegetables into a healthy version of Asian take out food. 

Still on a sugar high... Thanks Sprinkles!

Can you imagine baking and selling over 1,000 cupcakes each day? And hand frosting each one? That's what the folks at Sprinkles do each and everyday starting at 4am (Frosters start at 5am)!

This week Brainfood was lucky enough to take a field trip over to Georgetown and sneak a peek into one of the newest cupcake shops to hit DC. Sprinkles welcomed our Columbia Heights Tuesday & Thursday class to hang out for an afternoon and learn about the cupcake business. We learned all about how Sprinkles makes their cupcakes, markets them and even donates all their leftover cupcakes at the end of the evening. Most importantly, we learned how to make their famous (and delicious) vanilla frosting and how to hand frost cupcakes. After a frosting lesson from their general manager Terra, all our youth got a chance to frost and decorate 2 cupcakes. We learned it’s pretty tricky and we may need a bit more practice before they are Sprinkles worthy, but they looked awesome for first timers.

Check the out our cupcakes:

I have been having a great time at Brainfood so far!

From Guest Blogger Cara Oslanger, Brainfood intern....

Hello readers!

My name is Cara and I am the intern for the Kitchen All Stars program on Mondays and Wednesdays in Chinatown.  I have been having a great time at Brainfood so far!  All of the students are so wonderful and bring such a different food experience to class.  I love to share stories and watch their skills progress each time we are in the kitchen.  Their reactions when eating at the end of class is my favorite part.  I love to see students surprised to like a food they thought they hated and be proud that they are trying new things and creating delicious food all on their own.  Everyone seems to learn very quickly and really enjoy themselves.  Since we started out baking, my favorite recipe from that section was the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes... yum.  This past class, we made Ratatouille and that had to be my second favorite.  I really enjoy coming to class every week and look forward to the recipes we make and the time we get to share together!

Brainfood welcomed me to the new school year!!

Hello everyone, my name is LaSchellé Owens, I am the new instructor here at Brainfood-Chinatown location, I am so happy to be apart of Brainfood Kitchen All Star program this school year. My students are all from different schools in DC. I met such great students who are excited about learning, building life skills, and new cooking skills. I am learning so much myself as well. I am pumped up about what we have in store for the students this school year. So far we have started off with baking.  Our recipes varied from Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake Brownies and Vegan Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Chip Muffins to Cheddar Biscuits and Sweet Potato Biscuits. Which by the way were all DELICIOUS!!!  Everyone was so proud of their new found baking skills, such as sifting flour, separating an egg and measuring the “Brainfood Way” and so was I.  


Community MVPs: We're looking for Brainfood grads and enthusiastic volunteers!

Our kitchen's still empty, and our fridge is too, but my oh my, are we excited about this fall.

You'd be excited too, if you were in charge of building a fully mobile youth teaching unit to bring low-cost workshops on healthy eating to DC residents.  Stay tuned as we launch our pilot year of Community MVPs and welcome our new class of Kitchen All Stars.


We're still deep in planning mode at Brainfood, but if you've got a hankering for more Brainfood, here's a few things to consider:


- Volunteer with us!  We have two upcoming volunteer info sessions on Wednesday, August 31st and Thursday, September 8th.  We're looking for assistants for both the Kitchen All Stars and MVPs program.  Email Carina to RSVP for an info session.

My summer at Brainfood

From our Guest Bloggers  and summer interns Zoe Middleton & Matt Grunewald...

My time as one of Brainfood’s Summer Institute interns has been incredibly rewarding.   I was generously given the support I needed to flourish and the flexibility to combine youth development and cooking with my interest in wellness and food access. Even more notable than the easy-going and civilized office culture at Brainfood were the students that filled our kitchen between June and August. It is the time spent with any of our twenty students – either en masse, in smaller groups or individually – watching them grow and challenge their thinking while kneading pizza dough, washing dishes, perusing a farmer’s market or sitting down to a meal that truly thrilled me.  The progress they made in the space of five weeks as chefs and young adults was inextricably linked and profound.  In many ways, I grew alongside these students, becoming more committed to my career interests of public health and community development as well as learning how to communicate and execute fieldwork.  My great wish for our Summer Class of 2011 and myself is that the lessons of Brainfood (whether imperceptible or obvious) resonate long after the final leftovers from Open Kitchen Night are eaten.

Week 5: ‘Kudos’ to another amazing Brainfood summer

This last week of July has caught quite a few DC citizens taking cover from the muggy, constant heat.  Here at Brainfood, there was nothing more enjoyable than hanging out in our cool, underground  kitchen for one last week of summertime cooking. 

The week kicked off with a guest chef visit from Brainfood hall of famer, Teddy Folkman.  Once again bearing a 10 lb. sack of his favorite bi-valves, Teddy showed students how to whip up mussels two ways: one mussel dish featured endive, cream, and tarragon, while the other dish got its kick from a lemony thyme sauce with roasted chicken stock.  Despite some initial reservations, students stepped up to the plate and sampled the finished product.  Whether it was Teddy’s exuberant kitchen presence or developing a new taste for mussels, it was a memorable Monday for all. 

But after a full day of following Teddy’s lead and a summer of meticulously recreating Brainfood recipes, participants were ready to make their own signature dishes.   On Tuesday, they got the opportunity to do just that, except, since it’s Brainfood, there’s always one extra challenge.  For our Grocery Store Challenge, teams of students cooked up a full meal (of their choosing) for a family of four while sticking to a budget of $15.  The $15 budget was used to buy fresh food from our mock Brainfood grocery store; the recipes and execution of the meal were left up to each individual team.  Breakfast was the prevailing theme among student-made meals, but then again, how can you find fault with a hefty breakfast burrito and whole wheat chocolate chip pancakes? 

The End is Nigh

From Guest Blogger Zoe Middleton, Brainfood summer intern…

Brainfood's fourth week of Summer Institute revolved around applying knowledge gleamed from the last few weeks (MyPlate, knife skills) in unfamiliar and delicious ways. 

On Monday, our students took breakfast beyond the cereal box, creating multi-grain pancakes, miniature (but protein-packed) quiches and honey-based granola bars. 

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