Alina Catiller: (proof)ing her skills in the kitchen


Mitul Kalra

MAKING DREAMS CRUMB TRUE: Senior Alina Catiller finds her passion in culinary arts and works hard to bake a perfect batch of cookies.

Claire Chien and Helena Zhou

Not everyone can become a great cook, but a great cook can come from anywhere. Northwood senior Alina Catiller is a prime example: after taking two years of culinary arts and a technical Regional Occupancy Program (ROP) baking course, Catiller now plans to pursue her baking passions in culinary school. Developing her own recipes for various sweets and treats, she demonstrates that you can indeed bake it until you make it.

The Howler: How did you develop your passion for baking?

Alina Catiller: I became interested during my sophomore year when I saw that culinary class was an option here at Northwood. At first, I didn’t really like it, but my parents told me to continue trying it out, and now I have an interest in culinary to the point where it might become my career.

TH: What difficulties did you have to overcome with baking?

AC: Baking is precision. It has its creative part but also a math part. You have to be very particular with what ingredients go in, so one of my struggles is focusing on and figuring out the measurements.

TH: What have you had to go through in order to reach where you are now?

AC: I’m actually an immigrant from Ukraine. My two younger sisters and I were all adopted from Ukraine around 10 years ago. Life before adoption was really hard for me. My birth mom was struggling with things, and it impacted all three of us differently. Even though I share some of her struggles, they’re not defining me, and I’m trying my hardest to do school and still trying to learn the language. Overall, my struggles have made me the person I am today, and right now, I’m trying to be better at all the things I want to do in life, like baking, and show that to my sisters.

TH: What is one of your most memorable moments from baking?

AC: Definitely when I made myself a raspberry cheesecake for my 18th birthday. I remember after school, I was so excited to go home and eat a piece. I almost ate the whole thing. I also learned from that experience to wet the knife before cutting the cake for a nice, clean cut.

TH: What is your favorite part about baking?

AC: I like seeing people’s reactions to it. I like how a dish is developed, how you can do so much with just one ingredient and the final outcome of presenting it at the end. I first see other people’s perspectives on how they make their food, but now, I’m really starting to discover what goes together and what doesn’t. The process is definitely fun— putting all the ingredients together and combining all of it. It’s fun if you have friends, parents or anyone to share it with. It doesn’t matter what you’re making. It’s more about being with the people you love.

TH: So, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. As an experienced baker, do you have tips for our readers who want to try baking something for their loved ones?

AC: Start off easy and search up step-by-step directions. As you get more comfortable, try more difficult recipes, but start off simple such as with chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies with chocolate drizzled on.