Food for Thought: the 3rd Annual Brainfood Grill-Off

Written by Anita
July 11, 2009

Photos courtesy of Melissa Blackall Photography

Food isn’t just good for the soul, it’s also good for the brain! We recently stopped by the 3rd Annual Brainfood Grill-Off at the Decatur House (featured on gregslistdc!) Brainfood is a non-profit, DC-based youth development program that teaches high-school students about food, nutrition, cooking, and jobs in the food industry through activities, games, restaurant visits, and cooking. More than just a training program, it helps young adults to develop life skills and healthy living habits. Now in its 10th year of operations, the program includes over 100 teens from 8 DC public schools. Brainfood participants have been very busy over the last few weeks—they have helped to prepare meals for a variety of White House functions, including the President’s Fourth of July picnic! The 3rd Annual Brainfood Grill-Off paired award-winning DC-area chefs and Brainfood program graduates with local supporters. Together, they created tastings that were judged by both a panel of expert judges and gathered attendees. Rumor had it that our favorite tasting of the evening (zesty, fall-off-the-bone barbeque ribs from the Inox-led team) was the last-minute solo creation of a Brainfood participant! We also loved the Vermillion-led team’s peppery turkey cutlet with moist bacon polenta. At evening’s end, the Brainfood choice award went to the 1789-led team (headed by chef Daniel Giusti) for its grilled shrimp with taboule salad and the skillet award (judges’ choice) went to the Central Michel Richard-led team (headed by chef Cedric Maupillier) for its juicy pork loin with Spanish rice and escargot. In a tie for third were the Zola/Potenza-led team (headed by chef Bryan Moscatello) for its rich lamb, and the Vermillion-led team (headed by chef Anthony Chittum) for its turkey cutlet. Tastings were followed by a live auction, which included an Italian food and wine feast for 8 at Potenza and a dinner party for 6 with chef Teddy Folkman (a recent competitor on The Next Food Network Star and executive chef at Granville Moore’s and the Capitol Lounge). Want to help Brainfood to shape young minds? Then, click here to learn about local volunteer opportunities or click here to donate.



We spoke to several of the evening’s participants to get their impressions of this unique program: Q: What do you like about Brainfood? A: Chef Shannon Overmiller (The Majestic) To be inspired at a young age and have this opportunity—it’s really great. Q: What’s the best part of being in Brainfood? A: Kenneth James Jr. (1st year student): Being able to eat the food after you cook it—that’s the best part! Q: How is the third year in the program different than the first? A: Jovell Rhock (3rd year student): It means we have a new chef, new techniques, and new methods. Q: How is working with the Brainfood kids? A: Chef Bryan Moscatello (Zola/Potenza): The kids are very serious about it. A couple of kids have event talked to me about getting into the business!
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