Our industry inspiration

Mar 02, 2018Student Leadership Development Institute

By Kim Stefanelli, Kierstin Jester, and Caitlin Hedrich

From left to right: Caitlin Hedrich, Kim Stefanelli, and Kierstin Jester

Since I was young, I’ve always been glued to the TV watching Food Network. At first, I would always watch with my mom, who then decided to start trying to recreate the things she saw on TV. I remember being on my tippy toes watching her in awe as she would make either her famous red velvet cupcakes or even decedent brownies. My mother always put so much love and time into whatever she did. She would make things and always ask me how they turned out.  As I got older, I began to help my mom in the kitchen. In grade school, if there was a party, I would always volunteer to make the pastries because it always made me happy to see everyone else enjoy what I made. As I grew into a young adult, it hit me that I wanted to make people happy with what I made, just like my mother had done for me. My mother is my inspiration for everything I do. She is my rock, and without her, I don’t know if I would have such a passion as I do now.

-Kierstin Jester, Student Leader

Pastry Arts, Class of July 2019


I grew up in the kitchen, and I think I always knew I was destined to have a career in the food industry. I would stand on a stool beside my grandmother as I watched her prepare the dishes that molded my childhood. I remember my mother making all my meals as a child, and when I look back on those times, I can still feel the love that she put into everything she made for me. It is the love and the memories that inspire me every day. I want to take the love that was given to me and put it into everything I make in hopes that the person who eats what I create can feel the love as well. Even in the times that I feel discouraged, I take a minute and remember why I love what I do and the people who inspire me. If there is one piece of advice that I could give, it is that when you feel discouraged or question your abilities, remember why you wanted it in the first place.

-Caitlin Hedrich, Student Leader

Pastry Arts, Class of July 2019


Similar to Kierstin and Caitlin, I too grew up cooking and baking with my mom and dad.  My dad is still to this day one of the best cooks I know, and my mom is an amazing baker. I would sit at the kitchen counter, watching both of them work with ease. They’d come home from work and go to the kitchen because it would relax them from the busy days they just had. The more I watched, the more I learned, and eventually, I began helping out. I knew baking was a passion at a very young age, and I knew it was what I wanted to do. I began baking little things for classmates and friends, and seeing the smiles on their faces after they ate began a whole new inspiration. It was the greatest feeling in the world hearing someone say the food I made was delicious. My passion for the industry started with my parents, but my inspiration came from seeing others happy. There is a lot of negativity in the world, but food is one thing that brings people together and makes everyone happy. This industry is a selfless industry. We bend over backward to make others smile—and I love every second of it.

-Kim Stefanelli, Student Leader

Pastry Arts, Class of July 2018