Bite of Brainfood Blog

Kemi's First Week @ Brainfood!

Guest Blogger: Kemi Sobowale

This week was my first week at Brainfood and I’m very excited to be working here this summer. I first learned about Brainfood and its mission to help high school age teens learn life skills through cooking through my school. I applied to do my practicum here and was luckily accepted into the organization. My goals for the summer are to help Brainfood develop a take home recipe guide as well as help review the way they evaluate their participants and target audience.

This summer I am working with the Community MVPs program, which is a program that takes graduates from the Brainfood program and trains them on how to develop and run local workshops. This summer they will be doing farmer’s market demonstrations around the city, which is a way for them to build their leadership skills as well as do some community outreach.

Summer update from Brainfood: Job opening, Farmers' Market Demos and our growing garden

This last year has been a busy one for Brainfood with piloting our new Community MVPs program, growing our program staff, and just weeks ago breaking ground on our new garden.

We are excited to share even more summer updates with you!

Brainfood Program Staff Updates

We wanted to share with you news that is both bittersweet and exciting: Amy Brady Daly, our fantastic program director for the past 5 years, will be taking position with the American Red Cross as the Manager of Youth Programs this July. Her last day with Brainfood will be Friday July 6th. Those of you who have worked with Amy know that she’s an outstanding youth advocate, and that the Red Cross has found an excellent leader in her.

With Amy’s departure in July, Carina Gervacio will be stepping into the role of Program Director at Brainfood. Carina has been working with Brainfood for 7 years leading both our Kitchen All Stars classes and this past year building our Community MVPs program from the ground up. She is an invaluable member of our Brainfood family and we are overjoyed to have her leading our program team moving forward! Congrats Carina!

Summer Institute 2012 Begins!!

After weeks of preparation we finally opened the doors on Monday, June 25th to this year’s Summer Institute participants!  We’ve got a full kitchen with an average of 25 students every day plus four staff members.  So far we have played lots of name games and ice breakers as well as completed kitchen scavenger hunts.  The students have proved their already developing cooking skills by turning out some delicious treats including:  oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, sweet potato biscuits and almost vegan chocolate chip pumpkin cupcakes.  We’ve made scrumptious breakfast recipes, Peter Paul pancakes, mushroom sausage quiche and crunchy granola bites.  To finish out the week we had a pizza extravaganza challenge!


Spotlight on an awesome Brainfood student!

Armonté Butler

Armonté started his tenure at Brainfood in the Columbia Heights kitchen in 2010.  After graduating from the Kitchen All Stars program he decided to continue on with Brainfood and joined our Community MVPs  pilot program.


                                   Armonté making a smoothie on Brainfood's bike blender!

Community MVPs First Ever Graduation Ceremony!!

I have to say, this has been one amazing year at Brainfood!  With the launch of our pilot program, Community MVPs, everyone has been on their toes and working hard.  Last week the MVPs program culminated with a wonderful, heartwarming graduation.  After leading seven healthy cooking workshops, teaching over 250 workshop participants, winning a youth grant from Youth Service America, donating food, learning about food access in DC and public speaking skills the MVPs students were honored by their friends and family for all their accomplishments.  Of course, the class very willingly prepared delicious, and healthy, food for the event including: tuna melt bruschetta, black bean veggie burgers with guacamole, spinach lasagna cupcakes, whole wheat spice cookies and, a class favorite, vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes!  


And the Chefs’ Challenge winners are…

During our Graduation event on May 17th, our Brainfood Kitchen All Stars got a chance to compete in our annual Brainfood Chefs’ Challenge (an Iron Chef style cook off). Students worked in teams to create 3 original dishes in 70 minutes.  These dishes were by tasted by our awesome panel of judges!

All 7 teams completed the Chefs’ Challenge and made delicious looking and tasting dishes. Ultimately the judges determined our top 3 teams (based on points for teamwork, cleanliness of works station, creativity, presentation and taste).


Congrats to our winning teams! Check out photos of our winning teams and their dishes...


Brainfood Kitchen All Stars Class of 2012

It’s been quite an exciting year in the Brainfood kitchens. Our Kitchen All Stars classes at the Chinatown and Columbia Heights sites made over 125 different recipes and learned to cook from the ground up. More importantly they learned lots of transferable skills that they can use both inside and outside of the kitchen (i.e. teamwork, patience, how to delegate tasks, problem solving).

Brainfood Kitchen All Stars Class of 2012


MVPs host Chefs' Playtime event for Global Youth Service Day

Even the rain couldn’t stop this group of enthusiastic chefs.

They waded through hoards of rabid cherry blossom tourists, braved the positively gloomy weather, and arrived at our Chinatown site with one thing on their mind: pizza.  And they were in for a treat, because this was a pizza-making workshop unlike any that Brainfood staff or students had ever hosted before.

Community MVPs Get Their Coats

A post from Brainfood Staffer, Carolyn Panzarella...

On March 15th a proud group of students, parents, Brainfood staff, volunteers and board members got together to honor program’s first class of Community MVPs.  Students who had attended 60 or more hours were rewarded with their very own Chef’s coats!  Those who didn’t quite make 60 hours were given the colorful trademark Brainfood aprons. 

Guest Chefs Galore in the Columbia Heights Kitchen!

Over one exciting week in March the Brainfood Columbia Heights kitchen was filled with guest chefs bringing new ingredients, new skills and a ton of new food knowledge for our youth!

A BIG Brainfood thank you to John Murphy (Assistant Director of Kitchen Operations at Miriam’s Kitchen), Lynnette Jackson (Owner/Chef of Lynnette's Cakes and Catering), and Robert Barolin (Owner/Chef of City Square Cafe)!

First up was Chef John Murphy from Miriam’s Kitchen. John's passion for cooking started when he was very young but after years of working in professional kitchens he wanted more than just fame and turned his attention to using his cooking skills to give back to the community. He joined the Miriam’s Kitchen staff and has been making healthy foods for their clients ever since. Chef John brought all the fixings to make Tuna Ceviche, Carne Asada de Puerco with cumin whipped potatoes and charred jalapeno salsa and flan. The class divided up into 3 teams, put on their aprons, and worked diligently chopping, dicing, mixing and cooking up a storm. After some good teamwork, we got a chance to dig in and enjoy! Mmm it was delicious! It was hard for the students to choose the dish they enjoyed the most but two things were obvious – empty plates and smiling faces! Thanks John!

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