Bite of Brainfood Blog

Brainfood: Recapping the First Sweet Week of Class

*We really do still run an after school program around here, we don't just hang out at the White House all the time.  What was our first week of after school program like?  Read on...

The Biggest Treat: Halloween at the White House

Any time the White House throws a party, it’s impossible not to hear about it from several different news sources.   A good White House photo op, no matter how frequently they occur, is always a welcome reminder to DC residents that we live in a city that’s really quite remarkable.  What isn’t a frequent occurrence, however, is the opportunity to be part of the event that merits the photo op in the first place.  But for 2 lucky Brainfood graduates and 2 happy Brainfood staffers, Halloween at the White House was the day we got to be in midst of it all.  Would we finally get to see the President and the First Lady?  What would we do during the event, and where would we be? Though we didn’t know it at the time, there were some very big treats in store for us. 

More lessons learned at the White House

When the White House calls and invites our Brainfood chefs to visit their kitchens and help prepare food for an upcoming event it’s impossible to say no! As a staff of youth development workers we are constantly working to create activities for our youth to learn life skills and provide them with opportunities where they can use their transferable skills in areas outside of our kitchens. Visiting the White House and working side by side with their chefs provides an amazing opportunity for our youth to meet culinary professionals and caring adults who can reinforce what we teach in our kitchens.

“I finally see the real importance of being detail oriented” and other lessons from a Saturday at the White House

Relaxing in Lafayette Park after a hard day's work

On a sunny Saturday, one week before Halloween, 3 Brainfood students were invited to do what every DC sweet tooth dreams of in the month of October: help the White House pastry kitchen prepare treats for Halloween.  It seemed like a positively delicious way to spend an afternoon, but as any Brainfood student knows, working in the kitchen often means finding satisfaction in hard work, and taking pride in getting things done behind the scenes. 

Remembering Andrew Wolf

Andrew Wolf was an intern with Brainfood Summer Institute in 2007, and a Weekly Classroom Assistant at Brainfood Columbia Heights for the 2008-2009 after school program.  On September 16th, 2010, Andrew was killed in a bike accident while riding with Otesha, a Canadian non-profit that organizes workshops on social justice across Canada. Below, Program Coordinator Carina Gervacio gives one last Brainfood 'Kudos' to a very remarkable human being.

Week 6: Ending the Summer Institute in Style

Monday- Chef Kevin
How did you kick off your Monday this week?  Ours started off with a familiar kitchen guest, dried ancho chiles, and enough melted cheese to win over the hearts and minds of our summer students.  Chef Kevin Villalovos, from neighboring restaurant, Cure, made his second appearance in our Chinatown kitchen, this time for a workshop on Mexican food.  Under his guidance, students dutifully chopped their way through piles of cilantro, de-seeded handfuls of leathery ancho chile pods, and kept a watchful eye on whole chickens simmering away in a fragrant bath of water, onion, cumin, and bay leaves.

Themes, Themes and more Themes!

It was a very themed week at Brainfood's Summer Institute! Everyday was different, and out students embraced the changes beautifully.

Monday was Thanksgiving day, and students made many of the classic holiday dishes.  There were staples like dinner rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, apple pie, and two types of collard greens.  Instead of a turkey, Brainfood students seasoned and roasted a chicken. 

Seafood, Sugar and a Service Project

It was quite the busy week at Brainfood! Each day was jam-packed with new and exciting learning experiences, and of course, delicious food! 

Monday kicked off the week with a build your own semi freddo day, including a huge variety of mix-ins. From bananas to Butterfingers to brownies, each student enjoyed their own tasty creation! 

Tuesday brought a change of pace as the class explored the value of community service and prepared spinach and mushroom lasagnas for the women’s dinner program at Thrive DC. Students were able to consider ways in which they could become more involved in their communities and brainstorm important issues that they feel need to be addressed in DC. 

New skills, New foods: Week 3 Recap

Brainfood’s Summer Institute students had a busy third week, full of new skills and foods! 

Monday’s focus was on the most important meal of the day: breakfast!  Students made chocolate chip coconut pancakes, working on a griddle for the first time, as well as asparagus and spinach quiche, and turkey sausage patties.  Students also learned about cross contamination, since they were working with raw turkey, and how to prevent food borne illness when working with such items.

Week 2: Chopping and Shopping!

Although it was a short week due to the Fourth of July holiday, Brainfood students encountered many new and exciting experiences!


We began the week learning knife skills and knife safety in the kitchen. The students practiced a batonette, a dice, and a mince while preparing ingredients for ratatouille and minestrone soup. 

The next day, students delved further into knife skills by learning how to julienne and brunoise. These cuts were practiced while making an Asian noodle salad and a creamy fruit salad. 


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