Fall 2012

Elizabeth Bada

I’m 28 years old, from Hatboro, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Philadelphia). I graduated with a degree in anthropology from Temple University in 2010. I’ve worked in many different areas of the food industry; for the past 6 years, I’ve been a cheesemonger at Wegmans. I collect cookbooks, particularly American cookbooks from the 1950’s and 60’s. I do a lot of preserving and a little bit of foraging, and am hoping to do more of both in Boston. After getting my master’s in Gastronomy, I plan to continue on to get my doctorate in either food anthropology or food studies. My ultimate goal is to become a college professor.

Noel Bielaczyc

Noel Bielaczyc was raised on the tip of Northern Lower Michigan, where he cultivated a deep interest in food, natural sciences and art. He went on to receive a BFA in Scientific Illustration and a minor in Biology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. During and after college, Noel supported his hearty appetite and curiosity as a professional fishmonger.

In 2009, Noel and his partner (now fiancé) moved to Philadelphia where he continued to explore this field as the seafood buyer and fishmonger at a local food co-op. Later he became the product manager for a farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market, buying local produce, dairy and meat exclusively from small scale growers. At various points he has also been a cook, caterer and baker as well as a freelance illustrator and drawing instructor at the Detroit Institute of Art.

At Boston University, Noel is hoping to pursue and promote good food and eating in communities large and small, while honing his own culinary skills and knowledge. He is also looking forward to super-fresh seafood (especially razor clams!), snow and the constant inspiration to cook and eat.

Susan Brassard

I am from Templeton, MA.  I recently completed my Bachelor’s degree in culinary management from Newbury College. My goal is to become a full time culinary instructor at the college level.

I currently teach cake decorating and other various pastry courses for a local adult education program.

I have a passion for food and teaching, I am very excited about entering this program.

M. Ruth Dike

M. Ruth Dike was born and raised in Memphis, TN before attending the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UT). While at UT, she earned a UT Culinary Arts Certificate and studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco doing research for an honors thesis exploring the tension between traditional and modern cuisine in Morocco. She just graduated in May with a BA in Honors Anthropology and is excited to learn more about food and culture through BU’s program. She wishes to combine her two loves of food and anthropology to develop into a Food Anthropologist by completing a PhD in Anthropology and becoming a college professor, eventually.

Marleena Eyre

I hail from Seattle, WA. Growing up in a multicultural household, I loved learning about different cultures, which led me to The University of Miami (Florida) for undergrad. I graduated from UM with B.A. double majoring in International Studies and Geography in 2009.

Continuing my passion for learning about new cultures and politics, I worked for two different organizations in Chicago, The Borgen Project and The Fund for the Public Interest. Realizing that I still loved exploring the food world, I left the non-profit field and worked at Aria Restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel Chicago. I had the pleasure of working with Chef Beverly Kim Clark who garnered fourth place on the last season of Top Chef Austin!

Last fall, I dove into the food blogging world with The Flex Foodie focusing on mostly vegetarian fare. As I began immersing myself in food literature, articles and blogs, the Organic Food Movement became increasingly relevant to me. I would love to be part of this in making organic food more easily available and affordable to Americans. I am very excited to explore these opportunities in the Food Studies Certificate program this fall!

Jaclyn Fishman

Jaclyn Fishman recently relocated to Boston from Orlando, Florida, where she received her undergraduate degree in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Jaclyn graduated from Le Cordon Bleu this August, where she received her culinary degree specializing in Baking and Patisserie. She is the author of the food blog Food Plus Words, and her stories and recipes have been featured both in print and online by the James Beard Foundation, Serious Eats, The Kitchn, Women’s Health Magazine, Glamour Magazine, The L.A. Times and Tampa Bay Online, among others.

Jaclyn is passionate about food writing, recipe testing and development, food styling and photography. She plans to hone her skills while in the Gastronomy program, and hopes to work at a major food publication as a food writer, editor or photographer after earning her graduate degree.

Jaclyn intends to focus her studies in the areas of food writing, food media and communication, food policy, and culinary anthropology. She plans to explore the cookbook as a personal narrative, as well as a means of preserving a family’s history. Jaclyn is a pastry cook at Crema Café in Cambridge, Massachusetts and lives in a tiny studio apartment (with an equally tiny kitchen) with her husband and two dogs. Jaclyn loves dark chocolate and sea salt (preferably together), a glass of good Riesling, and any and all things lemony.

Amanda Furrer

Amanda Furrer is back in Beantown after a stint in Central Florida, where she worked her way up to food editor at Ocala Style Magazine, then decided to return up north and study gastronomy.

Graduating from Emerson College as a writing major who lived off of great ice cream, Trader Joe’s, Sweet cupcakes and anything else with sugar, she’s relieved to be back in New England–despite the fact it always rains when she forgets her umbrella.

She loves to bake, hopes to run the Boston marathon and can’t wait to learn about food and culture at BU.

Emily Johnson

Originally from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Emily has lived in Boston since attending Boston University for her undergraduate studies, where she earned a degree in journalism. Since graduating, Emily has worked as editor of Spare Change News, chocolatier’s assistant, and barista. Emily’s interest in food and gastronomy stems from her time volunteering on an organic farm in Hawaii, as well as her previous job working at Sofra Bakery & Café in Cambridge. Emily will work towards the policy or communications concentration and would like to pursue a career that supports sustainable and local food systems. When not working or studying, Emily enjoys riding her bike, reading, hiking and camping, and gardening.

Sawsan Kazak

I grew up in Montreal where I was able to experience an array of ethnic cuisines.

Also, my father owned a catering service which helped develop my love of food.

I have a bachelors in psychology from Concordia University and for the past six years I have been working as a reporter and desk editor at the Kuwait Times in Kuwait.


Andrea Lubrano

I was born in California and grew up in New York, but being of Venezuelan parents I also lived in Caracas for many of my formative years. From a young age I was fortunate to travel the world and I developed a great respect for cultures and societies and the foods and flavors that make them who they are.

After years of working and travelling I came to realize that Food is the most important way in which I relate to the world. Now, I want to turn my passion for healthy and culturally sensitive eating into something bigger and I’m studying Gastronomy to figure out where I fit and how I can contribute within this overfed and malnourished, but also generous and benevolent world.

Elizabeth Mindreau

I was advised to go to culinary school over 25 years ago and I finally listened! Born and raised in the heartland but drawn to New England. I moved to Boston to study Graphic Design at Simmons College. I worked as a Book Designer for many years before stopping work five years ago to raise my two sons in Brookline. My lifelong passion for food slowly grew to an obsession over the years. From quizzing friends from around the world on their methods for making chicken soup, reading cookbooks as if they were works of literature, and cooking way-more-elaborate meals than necessary for my young sons who would prefer chicken nuggets any day. I am deeply interested in exploring culinary traditions as well as in educating future generations on the joys of the culinary arts.

Gabriel Mitchell

Food, its history and dining habits have been of interest for most of Gabriel Mitchell’s life. Beginning at the age of 13, he has conducted culinary experiments that he has continued for the past 35 years. Gabriel is a classically-trained pâtissier, who learned the foundations of his technique from Jacques Torres, Johnny Iuzzini, and Pierre Hermé in New York and Paris, before settling in San Francisco. There, he was introduced to the ideology that would later be named Bay Area cuisine. Gabriel’s gastronomic interests are centered on food, identity, and African diasporic influence on world cuisines. After obtaining his master’s degree, he intends on pursuing his doctorate in cultural anthropology. Originally from New York, Gabriel is returning to the East Coast from San Francisco where he owned and operated his eponymously named gourmet pastry boutique, Maison Mitchell.

Sebastian Nava

Photo Courtesy of
Joleen Hughes

Sebastian Nava is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has a broad background in the food service industry from getting his start in a soup kitchen in his home town of Visalia, CA to working in the Michelin-starred  Ubuntu Restaurant. He has worked as a chocolatier, a butcher and even in food science research where his work was featured on PBS’s QUEST “The Science of Taste”.  Sebastian has a deep love for sharing his passion for cooking with others. His goal is to build a career around educating people about cooking and  the origins of the foods that fuel their bodies. Sebastian Nava is the creator of www.culinaryartsandsciences.com.


Alicia Nelson

Hello fellow foodie friends!  I am Alicia, a forty-three year-old wife and mother of two daughters, 12 and 14, living and working in Southern New Hampshire. I am currently employed as a Microsoft Licensing Specialist, but have determined it is time for change, a complete direction change. As these changes go, I am in hopes this one will allow me to follow my passion – food – into a new career. I am currently most interested in learning about the history of food in an effort to help direct the future of food in terms of cultural food norms, trends and food policy; perhaps helping to change the food landscape for future generations.

Jasmine Newton

Jasmine Newton hails from Oakland CA and has been a foodie for as long as she could remember. Her infatuation with food was strongly supported by her parents who encouraged her to have an adventurous palate. They introduced her to everything from Aloo Gobi to Escargot. But, it wasn’t until after she graduated from Mills College that Jasmine gave serious thought to perusing a career in the food industry. Her first job was working as a tour guide for Charles Chocolates in Emeryville, CA. It was a chance to share her love of food and work with industry professionals. Sadly, after two years of working for Charles, she left to pursue a career in education. Although the change was a step up, she longed to continue her culinary interests. Finally, three and a half years later she made the decision to leave her job and return to her first love. In the future she aspires to be a Culinary Trendologist, where she hopes to study the latest trends of the gourmet food industry.

Kari Pierce

I hail from Bainbridge Island, WA, near Seattle.  I first became interested in the social and environmental implications of our food systems during my undergraduate studies at Linfield College in Oregon.  I am thrilled to start the Gastronomy program to pursue those interests further!  After college I worked for an agricultural education non-profit organization in WA called Global Source Education, where I helped run farm-school programs and teacher training workshops.  I then worked as a cook in a locally sourced café, and have since been working in customer service in Bellingham, WA.  In the future I hope to work with food policy issues through writing, education and community outreach.

Audrey Reid

Hi all! My name is Audrey Reid and I am from the California Central Coast. I graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, studied abroad with Semester at Sea last fall, and just left my amazing job at the Williamsburg Winery in Virginia to attend BU’s Gastronomy program. I am looking to complete my Master’s with a concentration in Food Politics and a Culinary Arts Certificate.

More personally, my favorite food is homemade cookie dough, I love India (and Indian food!), the coolest thing I have ever done is circumnavigate the globe, and I think math and science are fun (Yes, I accept my nerdiness).

Laura Spalding

I’m a kitchen- and cooking-oriented person chasing the elusive “food job” dream. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I am excited about the path itself. I am in Boston by way of Northampton, where I worked for nearly a decade with homeless families. I am particularly interested in food studies as it relates to social justice work. I guess that’s what happens when you put a gender studies undergraduate in the kitchen. I’m also fascinated with food in the media and fine art. I draw painting inspiration from the vivid green and purple of pistachios and spend exorbitant amounts of time pondering the use of the term “honey” in song-writing (my iTunes counts 14 songs so far). To be perfectly honest, one of the things I’m most excited about as the semester begins is potentially meeting someone with whom I can discuss the finer points of Carl Sagan’s apple pie.

Kelly Toups

I am coming to BU all the way from Austin, Texas. I recently got my bachelors degree in nutrition and completed my dietetic internship through the University of Texas, in order to become a Registered Dietitian. I first developed an interest in gastronomy while studying the Mediterranean diet in Sicily, and I gained a further interest in food policy while interning for Whole Foods Market. I love farmers markets, specialty grocery stores, and trying new restaurants and recipes!

I hope that the Gastronomy program will help me to better understand the connection that individuals and communities have with food, and how knowledge of food policy procedures can be strategically used to improve this relationship. The only way to change human nutrition is to change what people eat. Therefore, in-depth knowledge of food and how it flows from producers to consumers will be instrumental to me as a Registered Dietitian in helping redefine the relationship that people have with food.

Caitlin Vanderbilt

I’m originally from Dallas, Texas, but I have been living and working in Boston since I graduated from Smith College in 2010.  I studied political science and Italian in undergrad, and I really got interested in studying food while I was living with my host family in Florence, Italy during my senior year. Italian food culture is definitely one of my main academic interests, and I was drawn to the Gastronomy program at BU because of the great mix of history, anthropology and current food topics in the courses. I think I want to go on to get my PhD in Italian Studies, but I really wanted to focus on the gastronomy aspect of it first and I can’t wait to start classes. I’m also interested in the history and evolution of Texan/Southern cuisine, so even though it’s a little early, I’m hoping to move back to Austin to do my PhD.

Dana Weisbrodt

Growing up in Chicago, I learned to love food at an early age – though it wasn’t until my last year of college that I really came to terms with that love going deeper than merely cooking. While studying at The Culinary Institute of America, I discovered that my passion went deeper into the roots of the how and why of a dish, the cultural significance of something like The Guide Culinaire, and understanding what those histories can reveal about our food culture today. In addition, I enjoy studying and experiencing wines from all over the world. Other hobbies include: reading, canning, sausage-making, and beer.

Bethy Whalen

Hi! I’m Bethy Whalen, originally from the great state of Washington, though I’ve spent the last 8 years bouncing around the United States trying different places and jobs on for size.  While I was spending a year living and working in Newark, New Jersey, I became very interested in the food systems within the public schools there.  Since then, I’ve started taking classes from St. Lawrence College in Ontario, working on a sustainable local food systems certificate, and spent time working on an organic farm in Bethel, Alaska.  I would love to work to reform the National School Lunch Program – creating school lunches that are not only healthier, but more sustainably sourced.  I’m also very interested in creating more sustainable food systems in urban areas, and in extremely remote rural areas.  I’m very excited to start the Gastronomy program at BU, and to begin learning how to make these dreams a reality.

D. Vicki Yu

Food anthropology has subconsciously been an interest of mine for several years, ever since I started to realize that I enjoyed hearing all the stories my mom shared about why certain foods are significant for certain holidays or celebrations.  A couple years ago, I decided that it was time for a career change and after a lot of research, I decided that Gastronomy was the way to go.  I have a degree in Finance and have worked as a Business Technology Consultant for one of the world’s largest consulting companies over the last 6 years.  While I’ve learned an immeasurable amount through this job (surprisingly, a lot about human psychology and what “customer service” really means), I realized that at the end of the day, I really wanted to feel like I had impacted an individual’s life for the better, rather than a company’s bottom line.  My goal in participating in this program is to learn how I can use my passion for food and culture to help people in a meaningful way.  And, I’m looking forward to experiencing lots of great food!