Bite of Brainfood Blog

Wasting food? Not here!

         As we approach our last month at Brainfood, as an instructor, I always scramble to think of any last important lessons to teach our students before they leave us. They’ve already learned so much; knife skills, safety and sanitation, low-fat baking, healthy breakfast foods and whole grains. Have we forgotten anything?! 

       This week’s class was devoted to using food ingredients that are usually thrown away or wasted. Considering that in the U.S, we now waste more than 40% of our food, this topic seemed like something we shouldn’t skip over! So we dug deep into the back of our fridges to find the neglected, bruised and mushy produce that would normally get thrown away. 

       We used blackened bananas (the more rotten the better) to make delicious banana bread muffins. We threw some chocolate chips in there and our students didn’t even remember that the bananas were oozing and old. 

Because She Makes Me Laugh

Written by Chelsea Samms

Brainfood MVPs Intern


They say, “You never know what you’ve got until its gone,” and this came to mind last week as I thought about the absence of all the MVP’s vibrant faces. I spent all 
last week counting down the days until the MVPs would return from their spring break. Before class on Tuesday, I got antsy just hearing them walk down the
hallway to the kitchen.  I greeted all the students with a huge smile and made sure they knew how much I missed them.


My Brainfood Experience

Written by Social Media Intern Courtney Ball 
Back in 2008 my cousin told me about Brainfood. Being an only child, I had always looked for opportunities to interact with others my age, so I was very interested in joining. I was so excited to catch the bus to Chinatown after school twice a week to learn how to create something new. In fact, I loved it so much that I participated in Brainfood’s Kitchen All Stars after school and Summer  Institute programming for three  years. I would say that being a part of Brainfood definitely had a big impact on my life. Not only did I learn all sorts of new cooking skills, but I also made lifelong friends, some
of which have become like family. 



Spring Has Sprung in the Brainfood Youth Garden!

Written by Intern Michele Holzhauser

With Spring upon us, the Brainfood Youth Garden is getting a spring makeover with fresh soil and new fruits and vegetables!  Considering the harsh winter the DC area experienced, I was expecting to pull back the covers over the vegetables and find all of the remaining crops to be wilted.  However, to my surprise, I was able to harvest turnips, turnip greens, and a half pound of baby carrots!  Brainfood staffers were excited to learn that we had fresh vegetables for students to use in their recipes.  It was refreshing to see that after the long cold winter, crops were still able to grow. This showed me that if a garden is maintained properly, it really can produce all year round!

Life Lessons at Brainfood’s Food Jobs Panel

Written by Intern Casey Brand

Last Thursday, Brainfood hosted a Food Jobs panel at our Columbia Heights site. The panel featured five diverse, inspiring professionals from the food world. Their range of passions and skills, from gardening to entrepreneurship,   demonstrated that there are many more options for careers in food than just becoming a chef! We heard from Rachel Couch, a photographer; Cullen Gilchrist, co-owner of Blind Dog Cafe, 2B Studios, and Union Kitchen; Arsha Jones, owner of Capital City Mumbo Sauce;  Kate Lee, Garden Director of DC Greens, and Amanda McClements, a food writer.

MVPs Earn Their Coats!

I never joined a sports team, so I don’t know what it’s like to wear a snazzy new jersey [minus when I was really, really little].  And while I did receive a large, oversized sweatshirt for being a lacrosse manager in high school, it wasn’t quite the same as a shiny new shirt with my last name, or better yet, my nickname on the back with lucky number four underneath.    

I was, however, a girl scout when I was real little.  I wish I could say I did it for reasons other than the cookies.  [Tagalongs anyone?] Though if I had to choose one other part I really did love it was when you performed an act of service in the community and you received a patch. 

I.  loved.  patches.  

Patches meant I was doing something, I was going places, I was making a difference.  It also made my plain, green vest come to life and spark conversation with my fellow scouts.  “Oh, you picked up trash in the park on Earth Day too [while pointing to the embroidered recycle sign on my shoulder]??” 

Around the World!

This week in Kitchen All Stars, we packed our (metaphorical) bags and started a culinary world tour!


Over the next few weeks, we’ll be experiencing the cuisines of cultures from all over the globe – all without leaving our kitchens right here in DC. It’s amazing how food can transport us through our senses, and we’re in for quite a journey of cooking and tasting new and unfamiliar foods together. Though we may not be jet-setting or cruising to faraway lands, our students are plenty adventurous. They’ve already tasted lamb for the first time (in Greek tzatziki sliders) and braved the fiery hot Scotch-Bonnet (in a Jamaican rice dish), and they're ready to keep trying new foods!


Getting Creative with Auntie Oye!

Written by Intern Jessica Hulse-Dillon

After six months of teaching Brainfood students how to chop, measure, and serve to one another, we decided they were ready for a new challenge: a guest chef!  Last week Auntie Oye came to class to help our students learn how to make West African food. Recipes included Fufu, a smashed plantain dish, Jollof rice, a traditional dish with tomatoes and vegetables, and Egusi stew, with chicken, goat, and smoked fish.


Coffee & Youth Development: 4 Lessons from a Starbucks Ad

Here’s the thing -- even the most inspiring job cannot inoculate you against the occasional tough morning.  In Brainfood life, we work with teenagers, food, gardens, and shared kitchens, all of which can be at turns inspiring, unpredictable, and time consuming.  This combination, as any mother, chef, or gardener can tell you, is not necessarily conducive to a good night’s sleep. 

The Workshop Jitters

It was Tuesday at 3:45pm and I waited patiently for students to arrive for program.   Fifteen minutes later, a group of 30 adults greeted me at the door.  

“Hi! We’re here for the pop-tart making class led by Community MVPs!” 

Great!  I thought.  Though, where in the world were my MVPs?  By now it was 4:30pm and program begins at 4:00pm.  

MVPs knew that recipe backwards and forwards and each person had perfected their speaking part to a tee.  And yet now, at 4:45pm, I was standing in front of 30 adults I had never met before, trembling with fear, awkwardly trying to ease their confusion.

All I kept thinking was where are my community MVPs?  

And then my alarm went off.   It was 7:00am – I had dreamt all of this.  I call it the pre-workshop jitters.  

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