Get to Know Our 2018 #CulinaryVoice Scholarship Winners: Meet Britney W.
Learn more about the winners of this year's #CulinaryVoice scholarship contest
This year, the Institute of Culinary Education partnered with ABC's The Chew on the third #CulinaryVoice Scholarship Contest, in an ongoing effort to find the next generation of culinary talent. Together, they challenged aspiring chefs around the nation to submit a 60-second video explaining why he or she should be given a full scholarship to attend ICE. Five winners were chosen from hundreds and now, we're sharing their stories on DICED — learn more about Britney's journey below.
Britney W. is a Texas-native who will bring her experience from serving in the Navy to the pastry kitchens at ICE. She says the Navy taught her two things about cooking: the correlation of delicious food with morale and the joy of experiencing dessert from abroad. Britney’s strong food memories, such as tasting her first macaroon and pavlova, are what motivate her to create the same memories for others. As one of our 2018 #CulinaryVoice Scholarship winners, she will be enrolling in ICE's Pastry and Baking Arts program at our New York City campus.
Here’s a bit about Britney and her culinary voice:
Name: Britney W.
Hometown: Born and raised in McAllen, Texas. Currently living in Lubbock, Texas.
Program: Pastry and Baking Arts
Campus: New York
Her earliest memory of food or cooking is...
Once I learned to read, I quickly graduated from my Easy Bake Oven to a conventional one. While making cut out animal cookies from a book I was recently gifted, I was in the kitchen alone, frustrated that my dough was too sticky to roll. My older sister happened to walk into the kitchen and pointed out the unmarked jar I was using was powdered sugar and not flour! I had to start the dough over again, but in that moment I learned the importance of small details.
Having fresh asparagus for the first time is also an important memory. Before that I had only ever had it from a can. I had no idea it was supposed to be crunchy! Now it’s one of my favorite vegetables; I simply blanch and salt it.
Her favorite dish to prepare is...
Honestly, any dish that will give someone a new experience. For example, my cousin was visiting and was craving bread pudding. I didn’t have any bread on hand, so I decided to make a Malva pudding with vanilla custard instead. The dessert has the same soul as bread pudding; they share the same warm, homey feeling. She now has a new favorite dessert that she shares with others, growing their interest in international desserts. I love preparing meals from around the world for my family, especially my nieces and nephews. The only rule I have is they must try everything once.
If she could eat anywhere in the world, it would be...
At home. Preparing food in my own kitchen is how I prefer to eat. For my birthday meals, I create a meal around specific themes. My perfect moment is to be in a kitchen with any grandmother making a Sunday feast. If she didn’t speak English, it would be even better. I would learn from example and feel the food. After we cooked all day, we would enjoy the meal family-style with good wine and company.
When she’s not cooking, she likes to...
Play word games. If there is a dinner party, you can bet I’ll break out Catch Phrase. I always happen to be on the winning team, too. I also enjoy running, which is helpful because I have a huge sweet tooth. When my music is blaring and I hit my stride, I can unwind and think through problems or even new desserts.
But really, when I’m not baking or cooking, I am thinking about what I’m going to bake or cook. My niece laughed at me because I was making a menu for a party three weeks out. I need that much time to edit the menu because there are just so many dishes I want to prepare. My bucket list of dishes I want to prepare is always growing.
She was inspired to enter the #CulinaryVoice Scholarship Contest because...
My God, family and friends deserve all the credit. I have been praying for direction and God has given me the biggest arrow. My mother told me this year was my year but I didn’t know what that meant. All I knew was that culinary school would be the start to my career. But in no way did I dream I would be going to New York. I already applied to culinary school in Texas before I learned about the contest in late March. My sister encouraged me to make a video, saying I had “nothing to lose and everything to gain.” Finally, my best friend, Lauren, came and helped make the video. If it wasn’t for her, the video wouldn’t have come out so well. It’s been amazing and humbling seeing friends of friends of friends vote and encourage me throughout the process.
(Watch Britney's entry video below.)
The experience of competing for the scholarship on The Chew was...
When I saw eggs, I was egg-cited. Having served in the Navy, I helped prepared eggs to order for over three hundred sailors daily. Though these omelets were nothing like I served on board, all the time I’ve spent cooking eggs helped me in the challenge. The best advice Chef Maneet gave us was that cooking happens in the mind and in the heart. I will forever cook with both.
During the egg challenge, Chef Capon shouted “$40,000 omelet!”. At that moment, I turned off all outside sounds and focused on the eggs. I enjoyed chatting with the other contestants, but I had a mission to win. The words “life-changing” were going through my head the entire day.
(Watch that egg-citing moment from the competition below.)
When we were told we had to make our own stir fry, I already had a flavor profile in my mind. My favorite soup is Tom Yum and I knew it could be translated into a stir-fry. Thankfully, all my ingredients were in the pantry! I went over in my head multiple times what I would grab during those precious 60 seconds to ensure I didn’t forget anything. During the finale, all I did was focus on my steps. I also tasted my dish as many times as possible. Even burning my tongue a bit.
To my surprise, I liked the hustle of being in the kitchen. Maybe it was my time in the [Navy] galley that made me feel at home in the stainless-steel ring. I was basically holding my breath at the final reveal. When my name was called, relief and joy filled me. I am blessed beyond measure.
Once she starts at ICE, she’s most looking forward to...
Working with yeast doughs with Chef Sim Cass, and chocolate with Chef Michael Laiskonis. I believe it is the challenge of working with these temperamental products that excites me. I also can’t wait to learn about different buttercreams and pastry fillings. Any technique that I can add to my arsenal that adds new flavors to a dessert will be exciting.
Five years from now, she will be...
Preparing desserts and meals paired with great wine in my own restaurant. It will have an open kitchen for people to see the bustle of the kitchen, but mostly for me to see the joy on their faces when they experience my food.
Her culinary voice is…
Sharing desserts from around the world that others enjoy. Not only taking someone on a trip through a dish, but also showing them we all just want the sweetness of life.