Good Causes: Brainfood Grill-Off!

When I entered the shiny Penn Quarter kitchen for a Brainfood class, a handful of high school students were sauntering in, some wearing headphones, a few gossiping about school. You know, standard teen stuff. But within a few minutes, they had been mobilized by the Brainfood volunteers and were busily chopping hot peppers and melon for a salsa. Burners were fired up, and a few guys in the class confidently manned the stove, where they cooked tilapia and salmon. Pictured above, the students prepare a red pepper sauce during the class.

It was fun to watch but even more fun to talk to the students about how much they enjoyed cooking. Introducing young people to cooking and healthy food and giving them confidence and self-respect in the process is a noble goal.

Brainfood, a local nonprofit organization, does an amazing job with that goal, teaching life skills to D.C. high school students through cooking and food. The group operates two kitchens, one in Columbia Heights, one in Penn Quarter, and students attend classes twice weekly during the school year and more frequently during the summer program.

You can help support this great organization when Brainfood hosts its first Grill-Off at the Hotel Monaco on June 28 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

The fundraising event will pit teams of community members against one another in an hour-long cooking competition. Each team will include a graduate of Brainfood’s program and a professional chef. In an Iron Chef-style format, teams will be given surprise ingredients to cook with. A panel of local chefs, food writers, Brainfood students and restaurant owners will judge the dishes.

Tickets to the event are $75 and include dinner, an open bar and entertainment. You can also get involved by recruiting your own cooking team. Click here to buy tickets, and visit for more information.

Marc Silverstein, host of Food Network’s “The Best Of,” will serve as MC. Participating restaurants include Butterfield 9, CafĂ© Atlantico, Clyde’s, Equinox, Indigo Landing, Jaleo, Matchbox, Ruth's Chris, Zaytinya and Zola.

And check out more pictures at A Bite of Brainfood, the group's blog.

(Metrocurean photo.)