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Teen chef Britni Birt seeks to increase sustainability

 
Michigan native Britni Birt is a teen with big ideas.  Britni entered the culinary world with the help of ProStart, a program supported by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) for high school students interested in careers in the culinary and hospitality industries.

 

Britni will be recognized this month by the state of Michigan for being a rising female force in the industry.  She has had the opportunity to go to the National Restaurant Show in Chicago and work with celeb chefs like Guy Fieri and Michael Symon from the Food Network.  She is also one of the top-12 nontraditional students in Michigan.  This morning alone, she was at school by 4:30 in the morning to plan for the upcoming governor’s dinner.  Talk about dedication!

 

Now, Britni is opening a completely sustainable restaurant in her hometown and is working with local restaurants to develop menus that use locally grown products.  Here’s what she had to say about her culinary experience and awesome green goals.

 

Girls’ Life: Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?

Britni Birt: I did for a long time, most of my life.  I’ve had a lot of family experience and it runs in the family. I first got involved when I was younger, helping my aunt and uncle, who are both chefs.  I learned to love it.

 

GL: What is your favorite food?

Britni: Mashed potatoes.

 

GL: Can you tell me about how you’re trying to change the Michigan food industry?

Britni: It’s with sustainability, which is one of the main concepts in our industry right now.  We hope to represent direct farm-to-table where you know where your food is coming from and it doesn’t have to go through processing and as much pesticides and usage.

 

GL: How are you going about this?

Britni: I’m involved in developing a restaurant downtown.  We’re in the makings of it, where students found an organization to get us out there in the industry.  We’re working on getting an upholding green sustainable restaurant, using all the resources we can from different industries.  And, I’m involved Sustainable Future Building with our architecture class, where we work with them and represent the culinary side of it.

 

GL: Was there anything that caused you to get involved in sustainability instead of just cooking?

Britni: ProStart developed Tomorrow’s Workforce, which gets us out in the industry and gives us a sense of what it’s like to actually be out there and live the lifestyle as well as [provide us with] the life changing opportunities students get to have with the industry leaders that we work with.  ProStart gives students a sense of purpose which makes us more passionate about our futures because we know what it’s like and we already know so much that we can’t give up on what we’ve wanted to do. 

 

GL: What is the thought process behind developing a menu?

Britni: [We meet] with the owners of different restaurants to get an idea of what they do [on a daily basis], and have a demo kitchen that works with sustainability and local Michigan products.  We actually have ten acres [reserved] for us that represent our kitchen and the different crops and animals we use in the industry.

Right now, we’re planning the upcoming Governor’s dinner.  We’re [making] food for 800 people and it’s going to be pretty high-end, pretty gourmet.  It’s definitely an experience we never thought we’d have at a high school level. 

 

GL: What is the toughest part about what you’re trying to do?

Britni: Multitasking has definitely been a tremendous part of it.  You pretty much have to be ready to do everything at once and get it all done at the same time.

 

GL: Do you have any advice for girls interested in similar careers?

Britni: Make sure you stay strong.  Don’t give up your dreams and hopes for going further and make sure you pursue your goals.  There are going to be people who are always better than you and you need to show that you can be just as good as them. 

 

Wanna learn more about the ProStart culinary program?  Check out prostart.restaurant.org.
 
 

BY KRISTEN YEUNG ON 7/22/2011 12:00:00 AM

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