One of the D.C. area’s most promising professional bakers can’t even purchase the main ingredient in her Champagne Delight cupcake. Breana Britt, 16, is the lead chef at Bree’s Sweet Treats in Accokeek, Md., just 20 miles south of D.C.
She’s one of two budding teen chefs in the D.C. area who share an ability to combine ingredients in ways that go well beyond their years.
Learn more about Bree and another rising star, 14-year-old Abu Uqdah of Northwest D.C., below.
Abu Uqdah, 14
Northwest D.C. resident Abu Uqdah’s homeschooling allows him to put in four hours of schoolwork before he’s free to focus on planning dinner for his family, which he volunteers to do out of a love for cooking. For a recent meal, he whipped up crispy-skinned rockfish with a stack of herb-infused vegetables and smears of butternut squash puree.
He doesn’t just handle fish and veggies like a pro. Abu makes pies available for purchase through his blog, Young URBAN Foodie. He accepted close to 50 orders during the holidays last year. “Asking me to choose between being a chef or a pastry chef is like asking me to choose between my mom and my sister,” he says.
He picks up techniques at cooking classes held at the Williams-Sonoma in Friendship Heights. Abu hopes to be the one teaching soon and is working with management on whether 14-year-olds are eligible.
Eventually, Abu wants to run his own restaurant. “I want to open a small, quaint place that serves clean comfort food with fresh ingredients,” he says. But first, he has his sights set on culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island or the Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park in New York.
Bree’s Sweet Treats, 15638 Livingston Road, No. 16, Accokeek, Md.; 301-292-6510, treatsbybree.com
Breana Britt balances being a junior at St. Mary’s Ryken High School with serving as the head baker at Bree’s Sweet Treats, a cafe in Accokeek, Md., owned by her mom, Charmaine Britt.
“I get out of school at 2:37 p.m., arrive at my bus stop at 3:38, and get here in two minutes to fill orders and bake for the next day,” Britt says. In addition to churning out cupcakes, brownies, pies, cake pops, cookies and specialty cakes, Britt helps manage finances and inventory when high school is not in session.
Britt is humble about her accomplishments, so most of her acquaintances are unaware of her business. She recently approached her math teacher, who was about to welcome her son home from a tour in Afghanistan. “I asked if she was having a party and if she needed a cake,” Britt says. “I showed her the website and she started tearing up.”
When Breana turns 18, Charmaine plans to transfer ownership to her. And Breana intends to minor in business and study to be a veterinarian in college. “Wherever I go, I want to take a piece [of the bakery] with me,” she says. “At college, I could talk to the people who run the cafeteria; I just have so many ideas for it.”
Know an aspiring chef?
When a talented child or teen professes an interest in culinary arts, parents are faced with a tough choice: allow their teen to put his or her craft above academics, or delay their culinary launch until they graduate.
Fortunately, there’s a happy medium. Michael Roll, the academic director of culinary arts and baking pastry at The Art Institute of Washington in Arlington, points toward public schools that offer culinary programs for class credit, such as Fairfax, Prince George’s, Montgomery, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties.
These programs are available to students enrolled in public schools, and in some cases, there are opportunities to earn scholarship money for professional culinary school.
Roll likens the culinary programs to getting out of class for auto body or “shop” back in the day. “You get technical training in a career-minded program like culinary arts that is integrated with the normal high school program,” Roll says.
You may also like: