Bite of Brainfood Blog

An Update from Columbia Heights- From classmates to chefs to friends!

By Jessica Hulse Dillon, Brainfood Kitchen All Stars Intern at the Columbia Heights site

Somehow without my realizing it, we are over a month into the Brainfood year.  Over the past five weeks, it has been a blast to watch the students pick up skills from measuring and mixing to kneading and knife skills.  However, what has been the most amazing to me is not the ability of the students to pick up cooking techniques and make amazing dishes, but more so their ability to build a community amongst themselves at the drop of a hat.  

More Than Just Cooking

I’m 99.9% certain you’ve been asked this question.  Be it a job interview, networking event, or a random stranger on the metro: can you tell me about yourself?  

We know ourselves best, so talking about who we are should be easy-peasy right?  Not always.     

In all honesty, I find this question to be hard – really hard.  How do I wrap up all the bits and pieces of who I am into a 1 minute [most times less] monologue where I seem interesting and kind and worthy of a job?

 Brainfood Community MVPs do a lot more than cooking. They teach, lead & empower others to create something healthy and delicious, and as a result, people ask who they are - a lot.  So we decided to practice just that: the art of sharing your story.  

Learning Alongside Brainfood Participants

Written by Progam Intern, Lauryn Woodruff...
Hello Brainfoodies!
Lauryn here, intern at Brainfood Chinatown location, reporting for duty!
It’s November already and fall is in full swing. That means time for raking leaves, making apple cider, carving pumpkins, and getting ready for the holidays.…..

Brainfood Celebrates Food Day in a BIG way!

We're proud of our students - really proud.  Read on to hear from three Brainfood Staff members about how our youth celebrated community and food!

Community MVPs Rock the Bike Blender at the Penn Quarter Market

Written by: Maeve Rafferty, Program Coordinator 

“Free Salsa Verde!”  

“Once in a lifetime experience!”

These were the words Community MVPs shouted as market patrons passed by, carrying their baskets full of milk, bread, and veggies.  You see, I knew this class of MVPs were full of energy and enthusiasm, but I suppose I didn’t know just how much.   That is, until our cooking demo last week at the Penn Quarter Farmers Market to celebrate Food Day!  

News From the Garden!

 Written by: Michele Holzhauser, Garden Intern

Meet the Interns!

Here's welcoming our newest team of Brainfood interns whose energy, talents, and cooking skills make us thankful each day that they're spending the year with us.  Prepare to get jealous: these ladies are all awesome and great to work with each week.


Jessica Hulse Dillon, Kitchen All Stars Columbia Heights Intern:

Jessica Hulse Dillon, fall intern, is incredibly excited to join the Brainfood team and to be able to teach and learn from the students at Columbia Heights.  She has a background in children's nutrition where she focused on getting nutritious food to children in conflict areas.  

She is also an avid foodie who enjoys trolling farmer's markets for seasonal goodies to whip up for impromptu dinner parties.  She is very excited to develop lessons for the students to allow them to learn how to use different ingredients to make their recipes better.    


Greetings From the Newest Brainfood Staffer!

My name is Nina, and I’m the new teacher at the Columbia Heights site. Having worked with both food-related non-profits and youth-related non-profits, I was thrilled to find Brainfood, which combines these two types of work in a wonderful way.  I saw these two areas as complementary, perhaps like peanut butter and jelly. Yet in the month that I’ve worked here, I can already tell these two things are not only a natural combination, but a sort of magical chemical reaction!  It’s less like a PB&J and more akin to what happens when a pile of dry and liquid ingredients emerge from the oven as fluffy biscuits (which happened right here in the Brainfood kitchen just yesterday!) Teens and food are not just two things that go well together; they react to create something new and truly incredible. 

Looking Back at Brainfood: A Reflection

By Summer Institute Intern Hannah Johnston

       As I sit down to write a reflection on my time as an intern at Brainfood, I can barely believe that the summer has flown by so quickly. A large part of the joy I found during my internship was the way in which I was adopted so whole-heartedly into the Brainfood family. I was supported and encouraged every step of the way by a wonderful staff; Brainfood has been an ideal environment in which to grow and learn. From the detailed orientation to the regularly scheduled check-ins to the careful instructions provided at the start of each new task, Brainfood has taken care of me as an intern. Indeed, the emphasis placed on the importance of the interns’ work and experience at the organization has given me a taste of the self-confidence and sense of ownership over work that Brainfood does its best to instill in its students. 

Reflections On The Brainfood Way

By Samrawit Sisay

I've never had kale before. At least, before I got involved with Brainfood. I realize I haven't had a lot of things before getting involved with Brainfood, and everything turned out really well, despite that. Before getting involved with Brainfood, I was a bit apprehensive but also excited. On a rudimentary level, this program is about teaching kids basic cooking skills, and on another level, it is a youth development program that teaches skills that would not only help the kids in the kitchen but also in life outside the kitchen. But Brainfood is also about pushing boundaries: trying something you have never eaten before or might have thought was "nasty" (a word we should never use in a Brainfood kitchen), or even doing something you never thought you would do, like knead dough.


What Is the Secret Ingredient That Makes a Brainfood Student?

By Sarah Levant

After working with DC youth for two years, every day at Brainfood still surprises me (in a good way). A non-profit that focuses on youth development through cooking, gardening, and teambuilding activities, Brainfood engages students like no other nonprofit.

This summer Brainfood started a pilot program with high school students and graduates, called the Box Project. The Box Project has a CSA-style business model, (customers buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer) and teaches students about entrepreneurship, business, and customer service. The Brainfood Box project is unique because not only do customers receive weekly organic produce from the Brainfood garden, but they also receive beautifully themed boxes with Brainfood crafted meals. Ranging from Brainfood’s chocolate chip avocado cookies, to Brainfood’s signature hot sauce, Brainfood students continue to surprise their subscribers on a weekly basis.

1) A Dash of Personal Development

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