420106_10151612559541624_786040984_nEighteen-year-old Lily Starbuck has one of those bubbly, outgoing personalities. It is easy to picture Starbuck as a future cooking show host—one of her several career aspirations. Starbuck, a food aficionado, Barefoot Contessa fan, and hard working student at New York University, is carving out a unique path that will enmesh her two passions—food and lifestyle journalism. She laughs easily when asked the dreaded “how would your friends describe you?” question.

Loud. They would say I have a loud personality. Outgoing. Loyal. Motherly…That’s all I got!

In the Kitchen: I never “got interested” in cooking per se. I grew up with it. My mother used to be a chef, so my life was always centered around the kitchen. But it was not until the high school that I realized how many careers there were in the food business: chefs, mixologists, public relations and marketing people, business owners, food writers, food stylists, producers and directors, TV personalities… the list goes on. My mom’s friends in the food industry have been instrumental in helping me to get internships.

Combining Interests: I had no dream of going to NYU my whole life, but my stepmom teaches here so I didn’t have to pay tuition and that’s why I made the decision. I’m in Gallatin trying to create my own major consisting of journalism that concentrates primarily on food studies and lifestyle journalism. I want to write feature pieces, and I’m interested in broadcast and production. I would be interested in doing food shows eventually.

Future Frenchie: I’m so excited to be studying abroad in Paris next semester (Spring 2014)! Of course Paris is so important for food culture, and there are a lot of chefs in the city that you can work. I might be able to do a stage with one of them.

In the know: My role model would definitely be Ina Garten. Also Nora Ephron. She’s like my major mentor when it comes to writing and producing film. I like all of her movies and all of her books. And I’ll say Martha Stewart for her entrepreneurial skills, just because she knows how to market herself.

Food for Thought: I definitely can’t pick a favourite food… It depends on the time of year. This summer I ate a lot of scallops. But basically I eat everything. There are only three things I don’t eat—poorly cooked eggplant, foie gras, and frog legs. I’ll go for anything else—sheep’s tongue, escargot, anything else!

A word on work: I try not to have an ultimate career in mind. When I first got to college I tried to set myself down different paths. I tried to make my five-year plan. I think having a direction is good, but a step-by-step plan? That is setting yourself up for failure. I learned this (on the career front) from setting myself down a premed path and freaking myself out.

I really believe in just getting a job and not trying to find the perfect one. You just need to start somewhere. It’s just good to get experience and have something on your resume. My mom has always engrained in me a good work ethic.

I’ve done four internships now including working as an office assistant at the French Culinary Institute, where I want to go to cooking school, as a volunteer tutor at the GO Project, an education intervention program, and as a food assistant on NYTimes Dining online videos, and currently as an employee at Stinky Bklyn, a cheese shop. My internship experiences have allowed me to figure out what I hate and what I do like. For example working as an office assistant was not very fun. I realized I never want to sit in an office all day long. It also made me hate excel.

Working at Stinky Bklyn is nothing fancy—I serve people, I cut a lot of cheese, I do a lot of dishes—but I really think its important to do service industry work to gain an appreciation for people in those jobs. I work at the Chelsea location, I consider this my first real paid job. I am a true part of a team.
Lesson Learned: You can’t plan what’s going to happen in your life. I tried to go the premed rout and I freaked myself out. And when it comes to making friends, don’t look people up before you meet them—unless it for a professional reason. Just try to be yourself. When you try hard to get somewhere instead of just letting things happen naturally, it usually backfires. That was my experience freshman year when I had to make new friends. It worked out so much better when I just let things happen.

New York then and now: I grew up in Brooklyn. My parents were divorced; my mom lived in Park Slope and my dad lived in Dumbo. Dumbo was very industrial then and we lived a block from a power plant. It used to be an artists studio type of neighbourhood, but it has become a very popular neighbourhood to live in now. Park Slope by contrast was very residential. We lived in a four-story brownstone house with a stoop. When I was little I played with my downstairs neighbours who lived on the first floor.

The things that matter most: Things that excite me are my family, my friends, food. Family is very important to me, and I want to have kids someday. I have a younger sister named Isabella who is eleven, and an eight-month-old baby sister between my dad and my step mom whose name is Giorgi. She’s very cute.
Proudest Accomplishment: I make a really good piecrust. Piecrust is very hard to master. The assembling, the freezing, knowing if you’re going to make a double crust. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get that down. I’m very proud of my abilities in the kitchen.