Avery Britton ’15
A Fortunate Change of Plans
Avery Britton loves basketball, but had no plans to play at The Culinary Institute of America when he arrived here as an eager culinary arts student. He was content to head over to the gym after class and just shoot around some, maybe get into a pickup game or two.
He got more than he bargained for. “At one point, someone came over and said, ‘why don’t you try out.’ So I figured I’d give it a shot,” Avery recalls. “I really enjoyed it and ended up joining the team. It was probably the best decision I made.”
In addition to the competition and the pure joy of playing a sport he loves, Avery discovered another great benefit to being a member of the team. “I got to meet different people outside my class,” he says. “We all get along great, even though it can get tough with people coming and going every three weeks. We do fine, even if we probably don’t have all the best players on campus on the team.”
Actually, Avery has done more than fine. He’s a key player and team leader, and earlier this season was named Player of the Week in the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference after a 32-point, 15-rebound game against Rhode Island School of Design. His success stems from a lifelong dedication to honing his basketball skills.
“I started playing basketball when I was four years old,” he says. “I was a point guard until junior high school, but grew seven to eight inches in a year, so I became a post player. But I enjoy playing forward or guard more.”
Basketball isn’t Avery’s only passion, however. “I always loved cooking, and I wanted a creative, interactive job that wasn’t in an office,” he explains. “So in my junior year at Juanita High School in Kirkland, I started to get serious about it. I joined a ProStart program at a neighboring high school, and by senior year was driving 20–30 minutes to Newport High in Bellevue, then back to my school when I was done. I loved it; it was my favorite part of the day.”
So it was only natural for him to pursue a culinary education after graduation. “I researched culinary schools, and one of my teachers recommended the CIA,” he recalls. “It was the best, so I thought ‘why not go to the best?’ Then I attended an Accepted Students Day on campus and saw a lecture and demo from Chef (Brannon) Soileau, who’s an awesome chef and super-energetic. He made a great impression on me.”
That impression hasn’t changed—Avery is loving every minute of life at the CIA. “One of the coolest parts is having a new class and learning from a new chef every three weeks,” he says. “You get new tips and tricks, hear different pet peeves, see what they like and don’t like. It’s great preparation for the industry.”
Ultimately he wants to be a chef-owner in that industry, but in the meantime he’s enjoying his time in the kitchen and on the court. Happy that his schedule will allow him to finish out the season with the basketball team, Avery has come full circle. Whereas he was once approached about joining the squad, now he’s in full recruiting mode. “Tell basketball players to come out for the team,” he implores. “It’s tough but not unreasonable to make it work. And it’s really a lot of fun!”