An Inside Look…Intern Edition!

A Day in the Week of a Brainfood Intern

Emily Murtaugh, Cooks in Training


Emily is from Long Beach, California and is a junior at American University. She is studying Anthropology with a minor in Statistics and International Relations. She is interested in alternative forms of education, youth development programming, and loves to cook. Her favorite experience thus far at Brainfood has been seeing students take on difficult recipes like Eggs Benedict, Galettes, and Sopes. By taking on difficult recipes with determination, initiative, and skill, they make amazing and tasty food! After 3 months of working with Brainfood, Emily has much to reflect on and share; take a look below!

Favorite food to cook: Chilis and soups
Favorite food to Eat: Sushi
Favorite Class so far: Sauces (I had never made Hollandaise sauce before and so I got to try something new)


Despite the weather not feeling especially like Spring in Washington DC, it is hard to believe that there are only three more weeks of classes at Brainfood. Throughout my time with Brainfood, I have had a myriad of different experiences. Starting from the very first class when I acted like a host of a food show and asked different students about the dish they were preparing, it has been amazing to get to engage with students in ways I never thought I would. Most recently, my academic advisor, Rachel Watkins, came to a Brainfood class and it was great to share with her my experience and the community I have built during my time here thus far. I have been able make this internship my own and explore different projects that I have been interested in from the beginning. For instance, I wanted to create a stronger mentoring component at Brainfood, and with the help of the programming staff, I am currently planning a skills share event between AU students and Brainfood’s Community Cooking Coaches. This is geared towards developing a sense of mastery and future among the students and is a great way for two organizations to come together. (Also, many college students are clueless in the kitchen).

My internship experience has also allowed me to think through projects I would have never imagined when first starting at Brainfood. I am not a social media guru, nor do I ever think I will be, but I currently support the Instagram Story on a weekly basis. I take photos all the time in my personal life, but to have the opportunity to use my photos to represent an organization is something unique. Additionally, I have successfully attended classes at all the various Brainfood locations (Chinatown, Mount Vernon, and Columbia Heights) and have seen both programs (Cooks in Training and Cooking Coaches) in action. This has given me the opportunity to see the different energies that instructors bring to the classroom, as well as the different strengths and growth points within each cohort of students.

My biggest take away from this internship has been learning how to manage my time more effectively and to know the capacity of what I can fulfill with the time I am here. Though I am at Brainfood for 20 hours a week, it goes by so fast! A typical day for me at Brainfood includes: preparing (batching) a grocery list for the weeks classes, going grocery shopping, and preparing any materials for class. After that I am able to work on my own independent projects or have check-in meetings with staff. I go to Cooks in Training classes at least twice a week and work directly with the students. Throughout these days, I have gained a deeper understanding of the intentionality behind every action at Brainfood. We are currently planning our end-of-year graduation ceremony for May 3rd, and it is amazing how each component has a specific underlying goal. This is something I hope to take with me in the future.

What I most enjoy about Brainfood is that the values the staff have for the students, they also have for each other. They value your time, commitment, and energy that you put into your role. They want you to succeed and will support you in any way that they can. I am excited for the last three weeks of my internship at Brainfood and I know it’s going to go by in a blur. But as the saying goes, time flies by fast when you are having fun!