A 'Penne' For Her Thoughts: One-on-One With Instagramer and Baker Elaine Khodzhayan

You may be thinking to yourself, "Wow, this girl looks so familar... how do I know her?" (Don't worry, she gets that a lot.) Flashback to our previous interview with the amazing, the wonderful, the ever-so-talented, @andachocolatedrizzle! 

Year: Junior

Major/Minors: Finance/Human Resources

Hometown: Erie, PA

Her Campus: How has your account grown since the last time we spoke? 

Elaine Khodzhayan: Well, in the last few months it certainly has grown tremendously. I currently have about 24,000 followers (which is unreal to me) and I’ve been reposted by some really incredible accounts!

HC: What are some of the opportunities that have come about from having this growing account? 

EK: I’ve gotten offers from some great brands for collaborations and sponsorships, so it’s been really neat to interact with other companies. I got a chance to do recipe development, test products and provide feedback, as well as try things out and incorporate them into my posts. I’ve received more offers than I’ve taken up, though, because I don’t want to advertise any product I wouldn’t actually use or enjoy myself.

HC: What is your favorite part about having a food Instagram? 

Baking is something that makes me so happy – I enjoy being able to turn on music and zone out of whatever else is going on and focus on the recipe, decorating, and tweaking photos. So being able to share that with everyone is so exciting to me… I really love when people tell me that they laughed at my caption or the photo made them smile or that it inspired them to go and make something on their own. I try really hard to be open and really honest (whether it be with my captions or the photos themselves) so that I can show my personality as best as I can because I really do want people to be able to get to know me – I’ve had some of my followers say that they “feel like we’re friends” and it ELATES me to hear that. 

HC: How do you gain your followers? How do you interact with your followers?

EK: Oh I have no idea where in the world these people come from… I’m always so amazed by the sheer number of followers, comments, and likes there are on every picture. I’m honestly in awe every day because it’s hard for me to believe that there are over 20,000 people in this world that care as much as they do about the time I spend in my kitchen and the little anecdotes that I share of the things that go on during my day. I absolutely love interacting with everybody though; it makes me really happy when I see familiar Instagram handles popping up saying that they just liked my photo or when I see someone constantly tagging somebody else in the comments or constantly leaving comments - it makes my day. I’ve gotten to know some of my followers on a name basis because they reached out to me through email or message, and I wish I could get to know even more of them! I try to reply to anyone who leaves a comment or asks a question. Instagram is so cool because of how much interaction we can have between users, so I really want to show how much I appreciate each and every person who lets me be a part of their day. 

HC: If you could only make one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

EK: Birthday treats, without a doubt! Whether it’s a birthday cake, birthday cupcakes, cookies, or anything like that, it’s definitely something that I love to do.  For me, I think it’s special to be able to be part of someone’s birthday in such a personal way – people forget presents, but they remember their cake. Plus, my mom used to tell me that bringing a dessert to someone would remind them of how ‘sweet’ life is, so when better to remind someone of that than on their birthday? (Thank you for that one, mom!) 

HC: Do people recognize you by your food Instagram on the street? How do you react? 

EK: I’ve had it happen a couple of times and I’m always so surprised! I usually get flustered but it means so much to me so I give them a hug and answer their questions. One of my followers even messaged me to meet up before when she was in Pittsburgh, and that was hands down one of my favorite experiences all year. 

HC: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not baking? 

EK: I love being with my friends and making new ones! Obviously since I’m in college my family isn’t always around, but I have the most incredible, loving, supportive friends, so I feel really lucky to get to see them every day. Besides that, I love exploring through the city – mainly restaurants, reading (I’m currently re-reading The Alchemist and hope everyone gets to experience this book at some point in their lives), writing, and binge watching Netflix.

HC: Where do you draw inspiration from? What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?

EK: Julia Child has always been an icon for me – she wasn’t afraid of trying something new, and even if it didn’t work out as well as she hoped it would, it didn’t matter because “If you’re alone in the kitchen, who is going to see?” She is wonderful. My little brother is another one for me, too – he always requests me to make certain things and pushes me to be more creative, plus lately he’s been interested in learning how to bake things on his own so it’s been more fun to talk to him about foodie things. Ooh this is tough, but my  favorite accounts on Instagram have to be @TheArtofPlating, @Tastemade, @FrankHaasnoot, @SallysBakeBlog, @RBICakes, and @HungryGrl_BigCity (I know her in real life and she is a gem!). 

HC: What is your favorite food-related pick-up line?

EK: “You’ve stolen a ‘pizza’ my heart” is a good one, as pizza is a staple food group in my humble opinion.  Honestly, any food puns will get you directly to my heart. Well, a food pun and sharing a meal – breakfast, bagels, burgers, Chipotle, dinner, late night pizza, day time pizza, you get the idea.

Photo Credits: All photos belong to the author.