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Festival Season: Shinning a new light on Baltimore City

Mario Moore

Light City Baltimore, a festival of lights. music and innovation, hopes to put Baltimore on the map as a social innovation hub of the country. On the last day of the festival, Light City Co-founder, Jamie McDonlad said that Light City Baltimore should be what SXSW is for Austin or Art Basel for Miami, attracting visitors from all over the world. As one of the largest international light festivals in the country, the free week-long event aims to shine a positive light on the city.  Now in its second year, the festival used neighborhood light art installations, performances, music and creative dialogues to inspire innovation through our the city.

As if light art isn't already dope enough, the Labs@Light City looked at innovation through different social factors like health, design, and food. This year I got to check out the Food Lab@Light City on the last day of the festival. I’m glad I got out to the rest of festival earlier in the week because the Inner Harbor was jam packed on that last night. I’m sure the festival easily cleared the 400,000 visitors from last year.

A major goal of the Labs@Light City was to highlight on emerging voices by pairing them with established thinkers. The stacked program kept my attention all day.

Cheff Jeff Henderson and Chef Bryce Taylor pose after their session at Food Lab@Light City 

Food Network’s, Chef Jeff Henderson teamed up with  Baltimore teen and “Chopped Junior” Finalist Chef Bryce Taylor to create a meal and share his story about the streets, the prison system and the power of food. It was really dope to see how his mind works, mostly because I was amazed at how he would pause his story shoot a command of two to Bryce and pick right back up where he left off. Chef Henderson opened the show with the story of the plight of the Black man and I was awake from that moment forward.

Rev. Dr. Heber Brown tells us how simple it is at the Food Lab@Light City

Baltimore pastor, Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, took the stage to talk about the Black Church Food Security Network that he started in response to the food shortages in certain communities  shortly after the uprising in response to the death of Freddie Gray. The network supports a local food system anchored in the church and therefore rooted in community. I was most impressed and glad that Pastor Heber held up Ms. Maxine a community elder that kept the operation in motion. He made sure it was known that without a champion like Ms. Maxine, replication would not be successful.

Aisha Pew responding to a question during the Food Lab@Light City telling the Mayor and the people with money to just give the money to the community. We got it!

Aisha Pew, co-owner of Dovecote Café in Baltimore brought a lot of real insight into her panel on The Human Centered Food Business. I almost wish she would have moderated the discussion because she had so much wisdom to share. Even most of the questions were directed at her. The cafe is a community nest that is fighting to bridge old and new communities as the neighborhood  shifts to a more “desirable” area.  

Devita Davison sharing the strengths and capacity of authentic community driven efforts during the Food Lab@Light City.

Devita Davison, interim-executive director of the FoodLab in Detroit moderated a discussion between some Baltimore-based food businesses impacting economic opportunity for Baltimore City residents. Devita did a great job highlighting the work that the panel was doing but did an ever better protecting the other panelist by pointing to the ways they were supporting community. I appreciated that she was very upfront about systemic issues like oppression and limited access to resources that contributed to some of the missing voices in some of their spaces. 

You can't see her because she sunk so far in her seat but a former student of mine had zero interest in Chef Marcus Samuelsson and his Salmon. He tried so many times. 

The headliner of the event was award winning Chef Marcus Samuelsson. He told the story of his humble beginnings and how it influenced his relationship with food, but I couldn't repeat any of it if I tried. I was bouncing around the room taking pictures like I was on staff. Somebody actually offered me a gig during his session. I knew I was a fan but the swiftness in which a picture was snapped when I looked up and he was 2 feet away from me waiting to go on stage made me realize the fandom was real. However, the grimace on his face in that shot made me feel a little weird, but I’m just gonna call it his “game face”. 

The Light City festival was great for what it was. They created a marketing tool used to paint a new filter on Baltimore; a safer, trendier, improved, dare I say healing, [read whiter] Baltimore. I walked away wondering why there wasn’t a blacker focus on Baltimore at the Food Lab@Light City but I commend them for the effort they did make. They gave the visitors just enough grit to make it appealing and remind them where they were but not enough to make them regret their decision.

I went for the art and free food but left with some cool folks to add to my mental rolodex. Inspiration for innovation is all around us.

Eat to Live


The BMG Kitchen: Parmesan Stuffed Peppers

Mario Moore

My kitchen can be like a middle school science lab, the experiments can go really well or really terrible...I’m mostly successful though.

This take on stuffed peppers is the product of one of my earlier experiments. I was cooking with a group of young people in DC and they got me hooked on the stuff after one of their competitions. The entire game was changed when I realized that the bright colored bell peppers were sweeter.  Now sweet stuffed peppers are one of my favorite quickie go-to’s! I dig this dish because you can pretty much throw whatever you want inside these sweet crisp cups.

Check out the recipe and video for these Parmesan Stuffed Peppers and let me know what goes into your stuffing!

Get stuffed!

Eat to live. Live to be.

Parmesan Stuffed Peppers Recipe


  • 4          large sweet bell peppers
  • 2 c       minute brown rice, cooked
  • 2 c       mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 c       spinach
  • 1 c        parmesan cheese
  • 3 T       coconut oil, separated
  • ¼ c      chicken broth or water
  • 1 lb       ground turkey
  • 2 tsp    garlic
  • 1 T        oregano
  • 2 tsp    parsley
  •             salt & pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Heat 2 T of coconut oil
  3. Sauté mushrooms for about 3-5 minutes
  4. Toss in spinach and remaining coconut oil and let it cook down
  5. In a separate pan, brown the turkey
  6. Combine spinach, mushrooms and turkey and the seasonings
  7. Stir in broth, cooked rice, and parmesan cheese
  8. Fill peppers with turkey mixture
  9. Line peppers in baking dish bake for 16-18 minutes, or until tender
  10. Feast

Everybody else is doing it!

Mario Moore

So here’s a secret...I don't do farmers markets. I’ve definitely been before but never with the same kind of intention as hitting the grocery store at 8:00pm on a Sunday night. It always felt like I needed to mentally prepare for a festival with all the people, funky outfits and folks munching on weird snacks. See, the way my sleep is set up...waking up early on the weekend to hit the food festival was not the move. BUT they don't shut down until the sun is high in the sky, so there's hope!

This past weekend, I was feeling like I was in the eye of the storm. With work stuff seemingly calm for the moment, it felt like a good time to recharge with good food. So I talked myself into hitting the market under 83. My Bmore folks know the food fest I'm talking about.

To take some of the edge off, I decided to make a game out of it. I had $15 and told myself I was going to see if I could feed myself for the next 3-4 days on this haul. I only spent $13 and made out like a bandit! With the rice I had laying around the house, I was able to make two quick Meatless Monday worthy dishes with some funky ingredients, that I have never seen before. Check us out on IG for some Meatless Monday ideas.

A few selfish reasons for hitting Farmers Market:

  1. Delicious, ripe produce. Farmers have likely just harvested the produce before it comes to the market, so you don’t have to worry about it being picked early,  so that it can travel a long distance without going bad.

  2. You can talk to the farmer. Not only can you find how your food was grown (organic, gmo free, etc.), but you can also get some advice on cooking up that weird new veggie you've never seen before.

  3. You might catch a deal! Forget the discount card! I like to stroll up just before closing so that I get the “I’m trying to get rid of this” deals. Yes I will take that kale, those potatoes and these carrots for $5...please and thank you!

I do wish that I didn’t have to wake up to enjoy all the goodness at the farmers market, but I think I might have to get over it. Hitting the market this weekend was actually a much better experience than my normal grocery store run. I got to check out and buy a bunch of things I’ve never seen let alone, tasted. I’m looking forward to exploring more of my local markets and seeing what folks are growing around my way!

Eat to live. Live to be.

B. Bowden