From Cake Boss to cookbook

Senior Morgan Bailey used her independent study class to make her very own cookbook that is based on the chemistry in food. The independent study class is taught by Mr. Kyle Leineweber and it allows students to have freedom to do whatever they want.

“The goal of the independent study class is to help “close the gap” between high school and college skills. Students learn so many skills beyond their individual project that will help them in college and/or as adults. Students have a unique opportunity for independent, in-depth study of one or more specific topics. Students develop a familiarity with procedures used in a given educational, research, or industrial setting or a variety of such settings. Students enrolled in this course complete research, field work, community service, and an end-of-course project,” Leineweber said.

Bailey took lots of time to decide on what she wanted her project to be, but ended up choosing a cookbook because it is what felt right to her.

“As far as choosing my specific project, it took a lot of thinking. From the very first day of school, Mr. Leineweber emphasized that we could literally do anything and that if we didn’t have that mindset going into this class, our projects wouldn’t be the best they could be. I had a few ideas at the start like doing something related to stats because I loved taking AP stats or something related to singing because that’s my biggest passion, but one day I found the correct project, which was my cookbook. I was in the car with my artist and photographer, Alicia Morelock, and we were talking about the show cake boss because it was basically the love of my life as a kid. I’ve been an avid baker for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to own my own restaurant/bakery/cafe one day. As we talked about the show, we both kind of realized at that moment that a cookbook was what I had to do. It just felt right,” senior Morgan Bailey said.

The project has taken lots of time and dedication, but Bailey has been determined to complete this project.

“I started the project in late August, and I will be ordering the first real copies on the 14th of April. So it basically took 7.5 months. All of that includes researching food science, deciding my recipes, testing my recipes, meeting with my mentors, writing each section in the book, taking photos, putting the book together, and what feels like so much more. I spent way more time on it outside of class than during class because testing my recipes was the bulk of the project. All of the recipes are my own, so I had to start with an initial recipe then make some sort of change to it and make it again, which was a process that continued 5-10 times per recipe. Cooking takes a long time, and as someone with an extremely busy schedule, it was an absolute challenge to find time to cook as often as I had to,” Bailey said.

Bailey had help from teachers such as Mrs. Julia Reynolds and Mr. Leineweber as well as classmates such as senior Alicia Morelock.

“Mrs. Reynolds read my entire book before I published, and she helped me figure out some formatting things that I wouldn’t have known on my own. She’s amazing. My mentors, Frankie Frappier and Leslie Fairchild gave me some food science resources that I studied, and helped me work through my ideas in the science aspect. They were always willing to help, and I really appreciate them. Like I said before, Alicia took all of my photos and drew all of the art, which was incredible. And last but not least, Mr. Leineweber did anything and everything. He’s -no doubt- the most influential person in my life, and none of this would have happened without him,” Bailey said.

Mrs. Reynolds said that she helped Bailey by giving her a fresh set of eyes.

“I guess you could say I had an editor role.  I proofread Morgan’s book but also advised her on the book’s format, pages, and copyright info.  Granted I didn’t have to fix much because Morgan is an advanced student but I think I helped by giving her a fresh set of eyes,” Mrs. Reynolds said.

Morelock did the art for the entire cookbook.

“For her project, I did all the art pretty much, I took the photos and was creative inspiration in some ways. I spent more time on her cookbook than my own project probably but it helped me realize how much fun it is doing art for other people and helping them see their visions come to life. I don’t think I contribute much, but if you ask Morgan it is the complete opposite because she thinks I am better than I actually am,” Morelock said.

Leineweber helped with encouragement and helped the planning for her cookbook.

“I lead the class with their initial plan and try to provide encouragement and support. We work on the various projects, but we also have discussions about college and life. I like to see students do amazing things that they can be proud of and lift their self-esteem before they graduate from high school. I helped Morgan figure out what project to do, edit the cookbook, plan her various field work and a variety of other things,” Leineweber said.

This project has given bailey lots of unique opportunities.

“In December, Mr. Leineweber and I scheduled a field trip to Ivy Tech’s culinary school, which we were supposed to have in February. Ironically, it was canceled twice because our school closed both times we scheduled it, but we finally got to go. We toured all of the kitchens, and I felt so excited. I never really considered anything in the culinary area as a career, but now I am. I also got to take a cooking class, which was a little over 3 hours. Chef Warren was a super fun guy, and I tried foods I never thought I’d like, but it was actually good. Currently, I am in Reno, Nevada to visit Chef Jacob Burton. Yes, somehow I convinced my grandma to go on a literal vacation in the middle of the school week to meet a chef for this project,” Bailey said.

Bailey has used her experiences to advance her cookbook and her recipes.

“In October, I went to Purdue University to meet my first mentor, and I got to sit in on an agricultural communications class, which was super fun. Testing my recipes is also technically fieldwork, and for a presentation the class had in September I made 100 cookies for all of the teachers. There were two different kinds, and the goal was to see which ones people liked more. I made a lot of food for the class, too. I wanted other people to try the recipes because I’m actually a really picky eater, so I don’t like most foods,” Bailey said.

Bailey could not believe that this project has led her to the things that she has got to do.

“I met Chef Jacob yesterday, and it was honestly magical. That probably sounds dramatic, but it literally felt like a dream. The staff members came up to us and asked who we were because we had to be important if we were meeting with “the big man.” We’d say “we’re nobody from Indiana,” which really emphasized how insane it was to be here. I was nervous about missing 4 days of school, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” Bailey said.

Mrs. Reynolds said that she wants students to feel comfortable coming to her for help with projects like this one.

“I have helped students like this many times!  I’ve helped students who have chosen to write books for their Senior Capstone, and I have had many of Mrs. Senac’s students ask for help with creative book projects.  I love that students feel comfortable coming to me, because library resources should be an extension of the classroom,” Reynolds said.

This cookbook has given Bailey a sense of encouragement and accomplishment.

“Creating something this special will be something I will always look back on. When I’m feeling unmotivated, all I have to do is look at my book and think about how I accomplished it and everything it has done for me. For the first time in my life, I can say I’m truly proud of myself and my creation,” Bailey said.