Amy Brady Daly's blog

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!

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


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!

Where are we traveling next?

From Guest Blogger Cara Oslager, Brainfood Program Intern...

Hello readers!

Here at Brainfood (in our Kitchen All Stars classes), we have been travelling the world and going to a different country each class!  For the rest of the school year, Brainfood Kitchen All Stars students will be learning how to cook foods from all over the globe.  So far, we have travelled to Greece, Jamaica, and Ethiopia and we are looking forward to continuing our travels after the students get back from Spring Break.

While “in” Greece, we were able to make a delicious meal consisting of Keftedes (Greek meatballs) with a cucumber dipping sauce, Kolokythokeftedes (zucchini and feta fritters), Spanakopita, and Baklava.  Yum!  Everything came out wonderfully as usual and luckily, there were no issues when it came to layering the delicate, buttery phyllo dough for the Spanakopita and Baklava.

Next we took a “flight” to warm, sunny Jamaica.  Here, we learned about Jamaica’s culture while making the well- known Coco Bread, spicy Curry Shrimp with Rice and Peas, and Jerk Chicken and Potato Skewers.  The students were very excited about the Coco Bread, as this was something they had eaten and loved previously.

We ended our adventure before Spring Break "in" Ethiopia.  Culturally, this was the most different from America.  We made Amhari (vegetable stew), Doro Wat (a chicken dish), and Gomen (spicy stewed collards served with cottage cheese) all served atop Injera (the native bread in Ethiopia)!  Students seemed a bit uneasy as we were about to dig into the dishes with just our hands, using the injera to help scoop up the food.  The uneasiness disappeared after their first bites and we ended class on a great note!

I can’t wait to see where we travel to next!   


Loving my time at Brainfood!

From Guest Blogger Melissa Zimmerman, Brainfood intern....

It has only been two months since I started interning and volunteering at Brainfood, but what an exciting two months it has been!  Time at Brainfood is fun, enjoyable and delicious! I always look forward to Mondays and Tuesdays to work with the Kitchen All Stars, anticipating the tasty meals we will be cooking for the night. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I would say the Lemon-Thyme Chicken, Jamaican Beef Patties and Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli have been some of my favorites. I have been amazed at how organized and skilled the students are when it comes to cooking, and have even learned a thing or two from them myself.  It’s great to witness their skill development and watch as they apply their knowledge and past workshop experiences to the next class.  The students have become increasingly efficient in their time management, cooking and cleaning and they work together extremely well.  The best part is when we all get to test out the foods at the end and see (and taste!) the hard work that has paid off.  Even better, the kids get to take home the leftovers to share with their friends and family, and to show everyone what’s been cooking at Brainfood.  I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the spring semester!

- Melissa Zimmerman, Brainfood Intern and student at George Washington University

A Valentine's Treat & Guest Chef visit!

From Guest Blogger Cara Oslager, Brainfood intern....

Hey Brainfood Fans! This is Cara, the intern from Kitchen All Stars on Mondays and Wednesdays.  This past Monday, we were very lucky to have our first guest chef come in!  Her name was Chef Lisa Biedrzycki, a pastry chef living here in DC.  She used to be a lawyer and then decided to follow her passion to become a chef and graduated as valedictorian from the Culinary Institute of America!  As a pastry chef, she has lots of experience making Petit Fours and this is what we were going to learn how to assemble.  We were lucky enough to have Chef Lisa bring in the pre-made layered cake so all we had to do was cut out shapes, put together a thick glaze, and learn how to pipe chocolate for designs!  Each group was given a rectangular cake of either chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream in the middle or a pound cake with blackberry preserve in the middle.  We then cut either the classic square shape or fun Valentine’s Day shapes for our petit fours.  Then, each group made a glaze consisting of powdered sugar and milk without a recipe.  It was a tough process in order to get the glaze to be the right thickness, but Chef Lisa was there to check out all of the groups.  She then let us use highly concentrated food coloring to create fun and bright colors for the icing.  Each group iced their petit fours while some group members focused on learning the design techniques using melted chocolate. 

The New Year with Brainfood Community MVP’s

From Guest Blogger Carolyn Panzarella, Brainfood MVPs intern....

The New Year has brought a whirlwind of new projects and recipes to the MVPs kitchen.  We have made homemade poptarts, turkey tacos and a delicious baked potato soup to name a few.  A highlight cooking session was our breakfast day when we made a scrumptious breakfast pizza topped with fried eggs and potato latkes with cinnamon apples.  Thank you to the Deb of the Smitten Kitchen blog for providing the recipes.  

It’s party time at Brainfood!

After 12 fun filled weeks of baking, mixing, chopping, sautéing and skill building, Brainfood students got to show off their talents right before winter break at the annual Brainfood Holiday Party. It was a busy week of preparation but was a great opportunity for our participants to display all they have learned in the kitchen. For the party, Brainfood students prepared their favorite recipes: oven baked fries, cheddar biscuits, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, mini Pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes, corn chowder, and 10 different types of pizza for their family and friends to taste and enjoy. They also made delicious sugar cookies that we decorated and then donated to THRIVE DC, our community service partner. 

Still on a sugar high... Thanks Sprinkles!

Can you imagine baking and selling over 1,000 cupcakes each day? And hand frosting each one? That's what the folks at Sprinkles do each and everyday starting at 4am (Frosters start at 5am)!

This week Brainfood was lucky enough to take a field trip over to Georgetown and sneak a peek into one of the newest cupcake shops to hit DC. Sprinkles welcomed our Columbia Heights Tuesday & Thursday class to hang out for an afternoon and learn about the cupcake business. We learned all about how Sprinkles makes their cupcakes, markets them and even donates all their leftover cupcakes at the end of the evening. Most importantly, we learned how to make their famous (and delicious) vanilla frosting and how to hand frost cupcakes. After a frosting lesson from their general manager Terra, all our youth got a chance to frost and decorate 2 cupcakes. We learned it’s pretty tricky and we may need a bit more practice before they are Sprinkles worthy, but they looked awesome for first timers.

Check the out our cupcakes:

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