South Carolina’s biggest newspaper this week put a spotlight on Carolina Domínguez Lopez, one of the first graduates of Lowcountry Acceleration Academy — and now a culinary leader at one of Charleston’s best-known breakfast and lunch establishments.
“Meet the teenage pastry chef shaping the dessert menu at Millers All Day,” read the headline in the Charleston Post and Courier.
Carolina began as a line cook and rose quickly to the position of Executive Pastry Chef at the growing restaurant group. A diligent student of baking techniques, Carolina has used her knowledge and creativity to remake Millers’ popular chocolate chip cookie, bring back croissants, and add Pop Tarts, a white chocolate chip cookie she calls the “Monster” and an array of new donut fillings.
“She’s 19,” wrote journalist Alan Hovorka. “Her ascent to executive pastry chef makes her one of the youngest people in Charleston’s food scene shaping the menu of a downtown dining staple.”
Her success hasn’t come without struggle, Hovorka explained. Carolina has struggled with anxiety and depression for years and the Covid pandemic threw her badly off-course, as she moved from honor student to a young woman who feared she might never earn a high school diploma.
That all changed when she enrolled at Lowcountry Acceleration Academy (LAA), where the combination of personalized curriculum, family atmosphere and intensive one-on-one support — combined with love from her family — helped her to soar. Last year, she became one of the new school’s first graduates.
“We form a circle, we work with the whole child,” said Dr. Bryant, LAA’s founding director and now Regional Vice President for a growing family of schools. “In this case, she just blossomed.”
Click here to read the full article. Here is a collection of photos by Post and Courier photographer Andrew Whitaker, who also made a video of the young chef at work. The lead photo at the top is by Andrew Whitaker.