Bite of Brainfood Blog

Risky Business

 I’ve been thinking about risk a lot this week.

What compels us to take risks or to avoid them? What makes a risk feel exhilarating and healthy, and what makes a risk feel too scary and overwhelming? Why are they particularly important for youth? Sure, risks can be bad. Adolescence is a time often negatively stereotyped as prone to dangerous risk-taking: underage drinking, drug use, reckless driving, and more. But this is an unfair depiction of teens and risk -- there’s so much more to the story


Brainfood Returns to the White House!

 Brainfood is honored to be invited back to visit by the White House Pastry Chefs Bill Yosses and Susie Morrison this holiday season! 

Nineteen Community MVP students, accompanied by Brainfood staffers, are helping out with holiday cookie decorating alongside White House chefs. One group of students, Stanley, Asya, Jennifer, Malik, and Subria, visited last week, along with Brainfood staffers Maeve and Nina. We have two more visits scheduled for the month of December. 

Brainfood groups have assisted at the White House 20 times in the past few years. We’ve been involved in the Congressional Luau, the 4th of July Barbecue, and Halloween, but the holiday cookie decorating is always especially magical. The White House hosts many receptions throughout the month of December, and the famed White House cookies are a tradition beloved by all the guests who attend. This holiday season, the White House pastry kitchen is estimating that they will produce 35,000 cookies -- all homemade and individually decorated! 

Garden Lessons: A Harvesting Journal from Our 2nd Year


This growing season had it all: gnarly 6 pound Armenian cukes, everlasting kale forests, Thai basil trees, and jewel-like figs and raspberries that were rewarded to the bravest harvesters and eagle-eyed gardeners.  As we blow one last farewell kiss to our second growing season on K St., we wanted to share some of our favorite garden lessons with you.  Here's what we learned while we were out playing in the dirt.

Crops: Fennel, Roma Tomatoes

Bring out the Knives!

This week wraps up our two week knife skills unit, and boy was it exciting! We kept things simple at first,cutting potatoes for homemade french fries and chopping carrots to simmer in our chicken noodle soup.  It was the perfect warm, hearty dish that made the thought of winter not so bad!  In addition to practicing our knife skills we had a little lesson in French vocabulary, teaching students how to properly do abatonnet, julienne, brunoise and chiffonade cut.  

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.    


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