Bite of Brainfood Blog

What do Usher, Mike Tyson, and Brainfood’s beet cupcakes have in common?


I’ll give you a hint: they also share this common theme with Bill Clinton and Ellen Degeneres.


'How to Read a Recipe' To Chef's Challenge: A Year at Brainfood

Those of us who are Brainfood program staffers have been navigating some serious empty nest syndrome over the past few weeks. It seems like just yesterday we took our first Costco trip of the year, and now many of our teen participants are studying for final exams, heading off to college orientations, and/or preparing for summer jobs.
First Costco shop of the year!
The month of May was a whirlwind as one of our afterschool programs, Kitchen All Stars, came to a close for the year with a festive graduation celebration and an abundance of tasty food. After the streamers fell and the last dishes were washed and returned to storage, we found ourselves with quiet kitchens and an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the year behind us. It’s hard to believe how much our teens have grown, both as individuals and cohorts, since they entered Brainfood’s doors last fall. They have so many accomplishments to be proud of, and we as their instructors are proud to share them with you.

Red, White + Brew!

This week, Brainfood was thrilled to be the non-profit beneficiary for an event hosted by Charlie Palmer Steak DC called “American Fare: Red, White + Brew.” The event featured  four DC Brewers: 3 Stars Brewing Company, Atlas Brew Works, DC Brau Brewing Company, and Port City Brewing Company, showcasing creative craft beers paired with menu items from Chef Jeff Russell’s "Jeff-to-Table" menu, each dish featuring farm-to-table ingredients sourced from a garden just a few miles away from the restaurant.
The event was truly a celebration of “all things grown and made right here in Washington, DC,”  which is right up our alley! Many of the brewers, chefs, guests, and others involved with the event clearly have a penchant for local food, and we had lots of great conversations about urban gardening, empowering youth as agents of change in their local food communities, and culinary education as part of the movement to transform the food system. 


Recipes for Success

This spring has been a very exciting time for all of us at Brainfood with the launch of Brainfood Homegrown: our new food venture that offers high-quality produce, healthy snacks, and meal inspiration while providing a launching pad for Brainfood graduates who want to build professional skills and connect with the city’s growing food community. At the new Brainfood Homegrown stand in Union Market, you can purchase Community Support Agriculture (CSA) shares, a la carte produce, and some prepared snack foods by Francisco, talented chef and Brainfood graduate.

If you haven’t already dropped by to check us out, we encourage you to visit our stand on Saturdays or Sundays from 11 am to 6 pm!

Maximizing Garden Harvests: Pest Management Tips and Commonly Overlooked Delectables


The garden boasts exciting new harvests after months of spring greens, kale and carrots. Strawberries are ripening, raspberries are reddening, and snap peas are practically popping off the vines even as their plants continue to climb the trellis towards the sun. 

But beware, we gardeners are not the only ones excited about the flourishing abundance! Constant vigilance is the surest way to ensure those pesky pests don’t eat all our hard work. Consider including the following tasks in your garden routine if you don’t already have a defense strategy employed:

Kitchen All Stars Graduation!

Last Thursday, we celebrated the end of Kitchen All Stars with our annual Chef’s Challenge cooking competition and graduation. We welcomed not only all of our Kitchen All Stars students, but also family and friends, Weekly Classroom Assistants from every site and section of Kitchen All Stars, lots of special event volunteers from Corporate Executive Board, and three guest judges: Sonny Goyal (The Advisory Board Company), Jen Koide (Blackboard) and Jennifer McDivitt (Poste Moderne Brasserie). It’s always so special to welcome community partners to get a taste of our programs, see all of our fabulous Weekly Classroom Assistants in one place, and, of course, see the youth in our programs sharing Brainfood with family and friends. It was a very full, busy, and festive afternoon!

A Whole New (Garden) World


Look at our garden, isn’t it neat?  Wouldn’t you think our collection’s complete?

We’ve got garlic and kale a-plenty… 

We’ve got radish and pumpkins galore… 

You want pole beans? We’ve got twenty…






But who cares? No big deal. We want more….




Stepping into Food Entrepreneurship: Brainfood Homegrown at Union Market

What D.C. activities did you get into over the weekend? Have a picnic at the tidal basin? Stroll through the drum circle at Malcolm X Park? Visit a museum on the national mall? While you were enjoying the gorgeous spring weather and all the unique outings D.C. has to offer on Saturday and Sunday, you may not have even realized that Brainfood was up to some exciting D.C. adventures of our own. On Saturday May 2nd, Brainfood Homegrown opened its very own market stand in the ever-tantalizing and delicious Union Market in Northeast D.C.

Wontons, Pickles, and More: Guest Chefs in the Kitchen!

Kitchen All Stars participants have been hard at work all year advancing their cooking prowess, building healthy group dynamics with their classmates, and developing leadership skills. As we approach the final weeks of afterschool programming, it’s the perfect time to bring in culinary professionals who graciously offer their time and skills to further our teens’ exposure to new foods and cooking techniques.

Last week, participants at our Columbia Heights site hosted two engaging Guest Chefs. We are thankful for Chefs Ztang Ruangsangwatana of DC Noodles and Yi Wah and Caitlin Roberts of Number 1 Sons for their fun and informative workshops!

Share in our fun, and check out these great action shots from last week’s classes! Stay tuned for more updates from additional guest chef visits on our blog and social media in the coming weeks...

Chef Ztang demonstrating knife skills


Connecting to our Roots...Through Dessert!

Last week , we teamed up with our fabulous, generous friends at Poste Moderne Brasserie  for a unique new fundraiser event: the Sugar Showdown. The event featured some of DC’s top pastry talent getting together for a friendly competition and guests enjoying an evening of sweets and bubbly on the patio, all to benefit Brainfood.  These amazing chefs whipped up imaginative, seasonal desserts for judges and guests to sample, and we all got to cast our votes for the winner. Guests enjoyed champagne and small savory bites by Poste chef Kyoo Eom, along with the phenomenal treats featured in the competition, and a wonderful time was had by all.

Of course, these chefs couldn’t make just anything! We all know a cooking competition is no fun without a limiting parameter or challenge of some kind.  The theme for the Sugar Showdown was both literal and conceptual in nature, and it’s a concept that I found extremely compelling: roots. The chefs interpreted this to mean culinary roots, family roots, community roots and actual roots -- as in, root vegetables. So what’s a dessert chef to do with the theme of roots? Well, these contestants had some pretty creative solutions:

Poste Moderne's Casto Unson, served a purple yam éclair with candied kumquat and rosemary oolong tuile, which he explained that his dish was inspired by his Filipino heritage and the flavors profiles of the cuisine he grew up with. Trummer's On Main's Deborah Brown served a carrot pecan cake with a citrus glaze and a cream cheese parfait (plus a salted beet chip as a garnish!) and her display table included an old heirloom cookbook, yellowed and frayed, opened to the page of the cake she featured.  Chef Caitlin Dysart of the restaurant 2941 served a ginger root budino on a carrot walnut cake with carrot confit, which was the crowd favorite, winning the “people’s choice” award of the evening. Meredith Tomason of Rare Sweets spoke about the Italian side of her family using pistachio in many desserts, which she featured as a garnish on her chilled rhubarb soup with vanilla bean and licorice root semifreddo, the dish that won the “judges choice” award in the competition.

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