Bite of Brainfood Blog

This is Real Cooking!

From Guest Blogger Hannah Ziegler, Spring 2011 Intern

Feed your mind and the rest will follow....

From Guest Blogger Ibti Vincent, weekly volunteer at our Columbia Heights site...
The blog is also posted at

During my first volunteer shift with Brainfood -- quite possibly my favorite after school food education program in the city-- the focus was on whole grains. (What are the chances? I worry that I'm going to develop a reputation as someone obsessed with roughage. I swear I'm not. Though it is important to include in a healthy diet....) As I stood by as an adult mentor, students chopped and grilled and roasted quite the feast, in this case millet burgers, quinoa salad, a hearty veggie chili, and some forbidden rice with coconut milk. Yum. You must guess by now that the way to my heart is directly through my tummy: I've been volunteering with the same group of young adult from high schools around the city every Tuesday night since.

How about them knife skills?

So now that it's December, our intrepid students have had a good two and a half months to get comfortable with a 10-inch chef's knife and some even more unwieldy French vocab as they've ploughed through the Brainfood knife skills crash course.

They've put in so much hard work; even though perfecting knife skills is a life long quest, it only seems fair to take a moment and appreciate how very far they've come already.

Slicing eggplant, Binni hiding out behind the prep bowl

Perfect zucchini half-moons, hail to the dice

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.

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