Detroit chef to compete on new Food Network show to win big job in Vegas
Local chef Brittney Brown, who has worked at Bacco and started her own pop-up business, is one of eight competitors on the new reality competition
A new Food Network show, "Vegas Chef Prizefight," will see eight chefs from around the country vying for the chance to be named head chef of a new, multi-million dollar restaurant on the Las Vegas strip.
One of those culinary competitors is Detroit's own Brittney Brown, a young chef who wants to prove that she has the stamina and skills to be successful in this male-dominated industry.
Brown got her shot by applying to be on "Hell's Kitchen" because she says she's "a really strong line cook." While she wasn't chosen for that show, her information was passed to other producers who invited her to be part of this new Food Network challenge, which premieres Thursday night.
"I was the youngest competitor among business owners and 'Chopped' champions," said Brown, who was 24 when the show filmed and is 25 now. "It was intimidating but it was an incredible experience and humbling to be chosen among them. It was awesome."
Filmed at Caesars Palace in Vegas, the "Prizefight" will show the chefs working in teams and on their own. Food Network star Anne Burrell hosts the series, and helps determine who moves forward to the end prize along with industry experts regional president of Caesars Entertainment Eileen Moore and celebrity chef Scott Conant.
The Newport, Michigan, native said the hardest part of the show was working as a team while also looking out for yourself.
"That was a challenge for me just because when I'm on a team, I forget about 'I' extremely quickly because my main focus is to compete as a whole," she said, adding that she hopes the show doesn't portray her as a follower, because that's not the case.
"I want people to take from the show that I'm a team player ... that's not me being timid or not having a backbone," she said, adding that at one point in the show when Burrell "shredded" the whole cast for poor performance, Brown was adamant that everyone hold on to their sense of selves.
"We decided our destiny," she said. "We only lose if we stop trying."
Brown started working in kitchens about 8 years ago near Newport, a small town south of Downriver, where farm-fresh food is the norm (they still have a milk man, she says) and the only restaurants around were national chains. Her first real kitchen job was with all women at a nearby Red Lobster.
"I had no idea this was a male-dominated industry coming from Newport, Michigan," she said. "My first line experience, it was an all-female line, my first executive chef was a female."
Once she made the move to the big city, she learned she had to have "grit."
"Being down here had given me that, and I'm thankful for it," she said.
One of her first jobs was at Bacco Ristorante in Southfield under chef Marco Dalla Fontana. She considers him a mentor who she worked under at many catering jobs, including serving Vice President Mike Pence and staff and important CEOs.
"Bacco was an incredible experience," said Brown, who also worked for a bit at Lady of the House in Corktown before starting her own business, Omni Eats. With this, she has cooked at events at Orchestra Hall, Willis Show Bar, and organized her own pop-ups.
One of Omni's current projects is the Communal Feast, a pop-up series in Detroit. At an event later this month at D Loft, Brown will showcase recipes she has in her repertoire as well as those seen on "Vegas Prizefight"
She says her experiences working on a fast-moving line and failing and getting back up has made her ready for success.
"I vowed that I would be tough enough and fierce enough as a chef to do this job and me being a woman or young wouldn't be a handicap for me, and I have proved that."
'Vegas Chef Prizefight'
Series premieres 10 p.m. Thursday
Communal Feast presented by Omni
Communal dining experience with chef Brittney Brown and her recipes from the show
8-10 p.m. March 27
The D Loft
9427 Jos Campau, Detroit