PRESS RELEASE: No Waste Big Taste: A Rescued Food Cooking Competition

Marriott International Chef and Montgomery County Farmer Win Manna Food Center’s 3rd Annual Rescued Food Cooking Competition

 Local Chefs Transformed ‘Ugly’ Produce into Delectable Dishes to Raise Awareness of Hunger and Food Waste in Montgomery County

Silver Spring, Maryland — Hundreds of people gathered today to watch two teams of professional and amateur chefs compete in the third annual No Waste, Big Taste: A Rescued Food Cooking Competition. The competition, organized by Manna Food Center (Manna) and co-hosted by Downtown Silver Spring, was the final event of DMV Food Recovery Week.

Chef Jennifer O’Brien, representing Marriott International, and sous chef Nia Nyamweya, of Beauty Blooms Farm, were named winners of the competition. Chef Jacob Mosbrucker representing The Eleanor in Silver Spring and sous chef Sophia Maroon, founder of Dress It Up Dressing, came in a close second place. Each team created two courses using mystery ingredients and ‘ugly’ produce including kale, potatoes, zucchini and matzo that were set to be thrown away, if they had not been rescued.

“Hats off to these incredible chefs for turning ‘unsellable’ vegetables and other rescued food into such beautiful and delicious dishes,” said Jackie DeCarlo, chief executive officer for Manna. “The competitors demonstrated great skills and put on a fun show today, but even more importantly they helped spotlight the important role that restaurants, service industry institutions, food companies, and farmers can play to address hunger and food waste in Montgomery County.”

An estimated one out of ten people in Montgomery County experience food insecurity. Manna’s state-of-the-art Community Food Rescue app makes it easy for local food businesses to connect their surplus food to community members experiencing hunger. To date the Community Food Rescue network of businesses, volunteers, and hunger relief organizations has rescued and distributed 7.6 million pounds of food—the equivalent of 6.3 million meals. “This cooking competition and all of our events this week were about inspiring community members to action. We are grateful for the generosity of the sponsors, organizations, and volunteers that made DMV Food Recovery Week a success,” DeCarlo added.

The competition’s judges – Maryland State Delegate Jared Solomon (D18), Rick Eats DC blogger Rick Chessen, and Rev. Kendra Smith of Kingdom Fellowship AME Church – scored each course based on taste, presentation, and use of all ‘mystery basket’ ingredients. The winning two-course meal of garbanzo bean pesto appetizer and Mediterranean-inspired beef kofta ultimately won the day, however both teams wowed onlookers with their creativity.

Throughout DMV Food Recovery Week, members of the community were invited to attend composting workshops, learn about recovery efforts from local experts, talk with farmers about what’s needed to create a more resilient local food system, and more.

Manna’s Community Food Rescue and the DMV Food Recovery Working group collaborate on DMV Food Recovery Week to inspire action and highlight ways the community can come together to continue to tackle food waste and hunger. Manna encourages food businesses and nonprofit food provider organizations to join the Community Food Rescue network and visit their website to learn more and sign up.


Manna Food Center serves as the premier food bank of Montgomery County, providing food to 45,000 individuals each year and helping distribute rescued food to soup kitchens, food pantries and emergency shelters county-wide. Since 1983, Manna has worked to fight hunger, feed hope and transition recipients from a place of scarcity to prosperity.

 Community Food Rescue, a program of Manna Food Center, is the coordinated food recovery network of Montgomery County, Maryland. This program enhances the good work of businesses, individuals, and organizations that already recover and redistribute perfectly good food to people experiencing hunger.

(l to r): Chef Jennifer O’Brien, Marriott International; Jackie DeCarlo, Manna CEO; Nia Nyamweya, Founder, Beauty Blooms Farm

(l to r): Nia Nyamweya, Beauty Blooms Farm; Jennifer O’Brien, Marriott International; Sophia Maroon, Dress It Up Dressing; Jason Mosbrucker, The Eleanor Silver Spring

Judges (l to r): Rev. Kendra Smith, Kingdom Fellowship AME Church; Rick Chessen, Rick Eats DC; Del. Jared Solomon (D18), Maryland House of Delegates.

About Community Food Rescue and the DC Food Recovery Working Group

Community Food Rescue, a program of Manna Food Center, is the coordinated food recovery network of Montgomery County, Maryland. This program enhances the good work of businesses, individuals, and organizations that already recover and redistribute perfectly good food to people experiencing hunger.

The DC Food Recovery Working Group comprises a variety of partners from food banks, non-profits, and for-profits working on food recovery, DC government agencies, local environmental and sustainability organizations, and food recovery advocates. The Working Group promotes food recovery programs, organizations, and resources, and develops new food recovery partnerships, programs, and resources for greater DC.

Community Food Rescue Because food is a terrible thing to waste