Students explore culinary skills outside the classroom

Eshaan Mani, Charlie Sole, and Preston Herleth

Whether it is ribs and brisket or decorated cakes and cookies, creating and sharing food is a hobby shared by many. 

There are a variety of student chefs in the Upper School with many areas of expertise, but they all share the same love for food.

Senior Johnny Griggs is known for his many contributions to the Kinkaid community— center for the varsity football team, varsity golfer, tech and children’s theater member, a passionate Falcon fan and a charismatic member of the senior class. In what limited free time he has, he enjoys hosting cookouts for his close friends and family. Griggs appreciates the memories made from it. 

“I cook because I love to share the food with the people that mean most to me, and I will always cherish the memories that come from it,” Griggs said.

Sophomore Caroline Pielop has loved baking since the age of five. Similar to Griggs, Pielop bakes because of the positive connections that come once the treat is enjoyed. 

“The thing I love most about baking is the ability to make something that always makes people happy and surprises them, especially if it’s made custom for them,” she said. “I think having something made for you with so much effort really makes someone feel special.

Pielop said she was inspired to begin learning how to bake by her mother, who often made birthday cakes and treats for her and her siblings.

“I decided this past summer that I wanted to try to apply my skills that I’ve developed over the years with my mom in order to reach more people with my baking, and also to potentially make some money for myself,” she said. 

Juniors Fiona Watson and Annabelle Letzerich also turned their love of baking into a small business.

“We bake because we enjoy it, and it is an easy and fun way for us to get to know each other and those in our community better,” Letzerich said. 

One common theme shared by the student chefs at Kinkaid is their use of Instagram to promote themselves. 

Griggs, whose username is @johnny.goodcookin on Instagram, often shares what he’s making at the moment. Griggs has garnered over 340 followers since last February, using social media as a platform to expand his popularity. 

Pielop, whose account is named, began her business this July, and she is slowly but surely collecting followers. She currently has 58.  

Watson and Letzerich, known on Instagram as @treatsbyaf, have almost 200 followers and 50 posts. 

As the students have become more professional, they’ve seen more success, and they aspire to do more business. 

“I am hoping to continue to receive orders, and hopefully get more frequent ones,” Pielop said. “I want to order more decorations and even learn how to make my own, like macarons. Maybe eventually I’ll even be able to expand my business to bigger orders, outside of just people from school and people I know.”

During his time exploring the world of cooking, Griggs, who mainly cooks on weeknights for his family and weekends for his friends, has developed a special interest in barbeque. 

“Most of my cooking is for my family — three or four nights a week — so the food I cook for them is pretty diverse, but if it were up to me, they would be eating barbeque every night,” he said. “I love barbeque, I love cooking barbeque, I love everything about it, so when I cook for my friends, I mainly make them barbeque.” 

In addition to cooking for friends and family, Griggs has also begun to start to sell some of his food leading to a sizable profit. 

“I don’t charge anyone I know for the food, but one day this summer I was bored and decided to have a cookout in my front yard,” Griggs said. “I published the details on Instagram and people came and went, and the next thing I know I made $500 doing what I love, allowing me to buy some more equipment for it.”

 Watson and Letzerich sell cupcakes to members of their community, and recently they built a website,, with options to order, become a member, and learn about the owners.

“We have catered larger events, such as school dances and birthday parties,” Watson explained.

Their orders and catering consist of full-size or mini cupcakes ranging in flavors from vanilla and chocolate to peanut butter cup and espresso.

“We love getting to come up with fun flavor combinations and getting creative with our frosting and sprinkles,” Letzerich said.

While baking is an enjoyable pastime for Watson and Letzerich, they still wanted to gain a financial profit.

“In the future, the goal is to make enough profit to donate and start consistent fundraisers,” Watson said.

Their dedication is intense, for they spend parts of every weekend preparing orders.

“Making parts of a cake and also doing my homework in the same afternoon has definitely been challenging, but I feel it has helped me improve my time management skills and helped me to plan ahead,” Pielop said. 

The students enjoy what they do, though, and they say the work is worth it for the smiles on their customers’ faces.

“I feel very lucky to do something I find genuinely fun that still brings joy to others,” Watson said.