PopCosmo PopStar is a feature in which we share cool things that you are doing. Whether you make a difference with your volunteer work, you design jewelry, you are an athlete with a dream, or you do something else cool and unique, we would love to hear from you. No matter what you do, you are a star… so share your story with us!
Our PopStar, Kayla, is a high school student from Atlanta, Georgia who is already a chef, business owner, and excellent student. We know how difficult it can be to balance doing well in school and spending time with friends, but when you add work to the mix, it gets even tougher. Kayla works to gain experience, learn from other chefs, and also to share her creations with others. She impressed us with her creativity, drive, and commitment… and the fact that she cooks dinner for her family most nights!
Always has: my purse and laptop
Proudest of: winning the 2011 Share Our Strength Great American Baking Contest
Is thankful for: all of the opportunities I’ve had
Wants to: go to Cornell University and be on Food Network
Is afraid of: bugs and needles
Believes everyone should: live up to their full potential
My style: changes every day
Pet peeve: fidgety people
At what age did you start cooking? I’m not really sure, but it’s been a while
How did you realize cooking was an interest? I’ve always been a picky eater, and I found that I liked food better when I made it. Oh, and my parents let me eat dessert if I made it.
What made you decide to turn a hobby into a business? I realized that I needed reasons to bake, so I decided to attempt to sell things to my friends and my parents’ coworkers.
How did you find a job in a restaurant? It’s a long story, but basically my Dad met a pastry chef at a benefit, and they worked it out so that I could intern at the restaurant she worked at.
Tell us about your work in restaurants:? I have interned at Pricci and The Horseradish Grille, and I started working officially at Alon’s Bakery. I work with the pastry chefs at the restaurants for a few hours every once in a while to prepare the desserts that they serve. At Alons, I worked for around 6 hours every day for 5 weeks over the summer in addition to whenever they are extremely busy.
How do you balance work, cooking for fun, and getting good grades in school? Pastry chefs tend to work from early morning til early afternoon. I only work in restaurants when I have time off of school because the times just don’t line up, and I only cook for fun after I finish my homework. Grades are definitely my first priority.
Have you entered in cooking contests? I’ve been involved with Share Our Strength for the past three years and they have an annual baking contest. The first year I entered, I was in the top ten but didn’t actually win anything. The second year, I won second place for my raspberry brownies, and last year, I came in first for my caramel apple walnut tartlets.
What is your favorite thing to eat? I don’t have a favorite food, but I love chinese food, pizza, cookie dough, and anything chocolate.
What is your favorite item to prepare for others? I definitely love making pies and tarts because there are so many different flavor combinations. After I realized there was more to pie than fruit filling, I started experimenting, and I haven’t become bored yet!
Do you cook for your family? Yes, I cook dinner most nights.
What is your goal, pertaining to cooking? I’m trying to decide between becoming a pastry chef, being a food scientist, and being on Food Network. Hopefully it will be a combination of all three!
Who is your favorite chef? My top two are Alton Brown because he combines science and food and Gordon Ramsay, pictured above, because he has such high standards.
What is one item of food that you would never eat? Any green vegetable
What is the one restaurant where you would like to eat? Work? I would love to eat and work at Alinea in Chicago because it is centered on Molecular Gastronomy (using science in cooking to manipulate temperature, texture, etc.).
Do you watch cooking shows, and if so, which ones are your favorites? I watch too many to list, but my favorites include Cake Boss, Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef, Dinner: Impossible, and Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.
What is your best advice for a beginning cook? Read as much as you can, because experienced chefs have a lot of knowledge to offer.
Worst thing you’ve ever made? I once attempted to make an El Salvadorian dish called Pupusas, which are made of a corn-based dough and some sort of filling. The dough dried up, cracked, and fell apart, and the filling was bland and had a strange texture. We ended up ordering Chinese food.
Thanks for sharing with us Kayla! We have no doubt that you will continue to accomplish your goals and we can’t wait to see you starring in your own show one day. We are also excited to announce a treat for PopCosmo fans: Kayla will be sharing some of her favorite recipes with us over the next few months! ? Stay tuned….