Fall 2013

Ellise Basch
ElliseEllise was born in Colorado, and her family moved to California when she was a young girl. Missing the elements of nature, she managed to return to pursue an education in history, with a dabble in medicine for her longstanding post as a ski patroller. She delights in being out of doors with loved ones and especially enjoys having a hot cup of tea at the end of a cold day.

She finds it generally impossible to go more than two hours without thinking about food, and decided (with not so gentle suggestions from others) to explore Gastronomy in hopes of combining food with a professional future. The times of the day she is most fond of is cooking for her better half, and though he still refuses to eat tomatoes, challenges her to expand her knowledge of food.

After her time in Boston, she plans to find her way back to the West for some food inspired adventures. She wishes to discover what constitutes good food in various communities and aspires to explore the many relationships that food creates.

Alex Cheser
Despite living in Kentucky his entire life, Alex is still not an expert at frying chicken and leaves that to the professionals (read: grandmothers). He spent the last four years studying psychology at Transylvania University, an actual institution, and was known for spreading himself thin across commitments such as the improv team, a super cool fraternity, writing a food column, and choreographing routines dressed as Paula Deen that are showing at a YouTube near you.

Alex’s pursuit of gastronomy is the confluence of his love for culture, the social sciences, and food. Plus, it’s time for a change of scenery. Relevant academic interests include identity, consumerism, and gender as it relates to food, food access and education, the passing/blending/forgetting of cultural knowledge, food and media, and the Nordic diet. Other interests include gender and sexuality studies, queer politics, electronic pop music, and Scandinavian culture in its entirety. Ask him about his semester in Norway, he’ll love you.

The future is uncertain for this bright-eyed 22 year old, but he’s contemplating the PhD track in sociology or anthropology. There’s a lot to sort out these next two years. Meanwhile, he’s excited to eat, dance, and explore his way through Boston.

Kimi Ceridon
Kimi_Ceridon_BioOriginally from Colorado, Kimi’s love of the ocean led her to make Massachusetts home for the last 9 years. She has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She spent nearly twenty years as corporate engineer, engineering consultant, sustainbility consultant, entrepreneur and manager. In 2009, she founded Kalepa Tech, a consultancy focusing on Design for Sustainability. You can read about her DfS philosophy in Green Design with Life Cycle in Mind.
While cooking and food are a passionate hobby, her sustainability consulting highlighted the important role food plays in personal sustainability. Food was and is the most tangible and accessible way for individuals to change their impact on the planet. This connection led Kimi to the BU program in Gastronomy.

She continues to pursue her own sustainability through food choices raising her own chickens, keeping two bee hives and organic gardening to supplement meat, fish, grain and vegetable CSA shares. With so much abundance, there is ample opportunity to fill a pantry through canning, preserving, curing, fermenting and brewing the local harvest . She is an active member of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA) and has taught workshops in lacto-fermentation for the Boston Local Food Festival.

Although engineering and gastronomy may not seem like an obvious pairing, Kimi looks forward to applying her engineering acuity to improving local food systems and increasing access to fresh, healthy and local food.

Follow her adventures at No Return Ticket or read her GastronomyatBU blog contributions here.

Nikki Cervone
NikkiCervoneGrowing up, Nikki never thought of pursuing an education or a career in food. Even though she thrived in a family life inundating with freshly made pasta, backyard gardens, and endless sheet trays of freshly baked goods, she wanted to be an elementary school librarian. It was not until undergraduate school that she realized she could no longer constrain an increasingly blossoming love of food to the confines of a home kitchen. Even while attending Duquesne University for a communications degree, her hunger for a more culinary-based learning did not cease. She longed for a second helping. Nikki started taking cooking and baking classes during the summers at her local community college. After graduating from Duquesne summa cum laude in December 2011, Nikki became a full-time baking and pastry student. During that time, Nikki had the opportunity to be a team member of the American Culinary Federation’s Student Knowledge Bowl Competition. Competing against highly renowned culinary schools, her community college team won the national competition (the highest level!) held in Las Vegas this past July.

Before attending the Gastronomy program this fall, Nikki will be completing an externship in “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” Hershey, PA! As a baking and pastry extern at The Hotel Hershey, Nikki is refining her skills in bulk production and the inner workings of the hospitality industry…and eating an unbelievable amount of chocolate.

Nikki ardently believes that life and the beauty of cuisine will forever be intertwined. There is a necessity for an ongoing attentiveness and willingness to change and to continue the pursuit of learning. Like cookery, Nikki has evolved in order to cultivate my passion for food. From librarian to baker, she welcomes the changes in life and is looking forward to this new experience as an avid, devoted student of Gastronomy.

Abby Clement
abbyclementRecent discovery of a cache of old photographs has reaffirmed that Abby’s life has centered around food for well…forever. Though pictures evolve from smeared food in highchairs to the civilized endeavor of destroying massive drumsticks at Thanksgiving dinner, food is a main player in almost every picture in this treasure trove. Not surprisingly then, as an Anthropology major she strove to understand the cultural reasons why so many people did not deeply care for or about the food they put into their bodies. She has gained insight working for small farmer’s cooperatives and local sustainable businesses, by volunteering for non-profits, farms and small local bakeries. What she now aims for is a deeper theoretical understanding of the current climate surrounding food and health; to try and sort through the labyrinth of influencing factors from gender to class, business to media- and to creatively find an avenue to generate change. She loves a good laugh, Neil Young and the casual run.

Dhvani Desai
dhvaniBorn in Africa and coming to the United States for educational purposes, Dhvani has experienced many different cultures from a young age. Although ethnically Indian her passion derives from cultures all over the world. She believes that food showcases many aspects of life, such as history, environment, culture, and language. For this reason she pursued a bachelors at Johnson & Wales University, in food and beverage management and now is looking forward to pursuing Gastronomy at BU. Dhvani is eager to start classes in Gastronomy and learn from her future colleagues, professors and industry professionals. She is not only excited to start her graduate program but to move to Boston and immerse herself in this thrilling and adventurous city and everything it has to offer.



Meredith Evans
meredithevansMeredith has been a food lover for as long as she can remember – her first memory was on a step stool sneaking cookie dough! As she got older, she developed other interests and got her B.A. from The University of Arizona in Political Science. Combining her love for politics and food, she is passionate about working to improve the food system. Meredith recently moved to Boston from Madison, Wisconsin where she worked at a large food pantry. While working at the food pantry, she focused primarily on improving access to ‘good food’. Meredith loves meeting the growers and producers who are passionate about what they produce and strive to make quality products.

Ultimately, be it wine, cheese or heirloom tomatoes, Meredith wants to find ways of improving access to unique producers. She believes the Gastronomy Program will give her the tools and inspiration to make this a reality.

Kate Gouin
KGouin_HeadshotIt was during childhood that Kate Gouin realized her desire to spend a lifetime working in the food and hospitality industry. She began her career with food by trapping blue claw crabs as a child and selling them door-to-door during long summers at the seashore. She has since conceptualized countless entrepreneurial dreams.

After graduating from NYU with a degree in Hotel and Tourism Management, she worked in a variety of capacities in the hotel and restaurant industry. Each opportunity, including front office operations in a number of luxury hotels, catering and restaurant operations and most recently, sales for a wholesaler in the liquor industry, was embraced and valued as an essential piece of a larger dream. Kate has diligently and strategically sought experiences and knowledge to prepare her for her future. She is now looking forward to culminating 20 years of experience into a formal business plan and taking the leap toward fulfilling her lifelong dream of owning an inn and restaurant.

It is with great anticipation that Kate begins her graduate studies at BU with the belief that this program will provide the missing piece to pull together years of ideas with her passion for food and service. Kate longs for the opportunity to further her development as an individual and a professional and to foster opportunities that will further enrich the journey.

Gillian Gurish
Born and raised in the Boston area, Gillian holds a BA in English and music minor from Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. She fell in love with food studies during a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, where she took an anthropology class on Food & Culture and a culinary arts class in Italian cooking. Her senior year of undergrad included a self-designed course on Mediterranean food & gender, a special project on tea time in Victorian England, and a senior English thesis on M.F.K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf and WWII-era food ideology.

After graduating in 2011 and returning home to Boston, she took an internship with Chefs Collaborative, the national non-profit network of chefs working to make sustainable practices second-nature in the U.S. food industry, which threw her happily into the wide world of sustainable food. She currently works as the Collaborative’s Membership Coordinator.

Gillian is excited to dig in to researching food policy and culture. She is also a big fan of Prosecco, Zumba, baking excellent oatmeal cookies, and her dog Izzy.

Clara Hanson
Clara Hanson Head ShotBy the way Clara’s eyes widened after tasting her first doughnut, her mother knew she would follow in her father and grandfather’s footsteps – Clara would become a raging chocoholic. What Clara’s mother may not have recognized, however, was that being raised in a home where she was required to finish all of the fresh fruits and vegetables Vermont had to offer would later influence Clara’s decision to adopt a vegan diet and become infatuated with all things related to food.

More recently, Clara completed a Bachelors of Arts degree in American Studies and Sociology at The George Washington University. During her studies, she wrote an honors thesis about the portrayal of plant-based diets in elementary school curricula. She looks forward to further research regarding the way food values and ideologies are communicated. Clara’s interests outside of the program include making her own calendars and thank you cards, playing with any dog that will have her, and exploring all things art, theater, and food.

Ashley Higgs
HiggsAshley, originally from Tulsa, graduated from the University of Oklahoma this past May with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a love for food studies. She has always loved eating and being in the kitchen, however her interest in studying food began in a Food and Culture class in her third semester at OU. Since then, she has taken as many food related classes as she could squeeze into her class schedules and ended undergraduate school writing her honors thesis on the history of the national school lunch program and its effects on children today. Fortunate enough to grow up in a household where fresh fruits and vegetables were the norm, she wants to work to make this the norm for all people across America.

Never having lived outside of Oklahoma, she is more than excited to start the next chapter of her life in Boston at BU’s Gastronomy program and wants to learn as much as she can about food culture, policy, access issues, and justice. In her free time, she loves to cook with and for people, have long and interesting conversations, and make art.

Tianyu Ji
Cici Tianyu JII grew up in Beijing, the capital of China. This summer, I graduated from the University of International Business and Economics with a B.A. in Business English and a minor in French. With busy parents, I started cooking at a very young age, and became obsessed with food ever since. I am engrossed in the beauty of food culture and the chemistry between people and cuisine. Complex food systems and millions of flavors characterized Chinese food, while I am more excited to explore Western food in the Gastronomy program! Here I wish I could enrich myself in food and food business while getting hands-on experience in catering. My dream is to make documentary about food, cuisine, and culture that promote occidental-oriental understanding. In my spare time, I always enjoy cooking for friends, studying nutrition, traveling and learning new languages (For now I’m learning French and German). I tutored Chinese for five years, part-timed as interpreter, and interned in many corporations.

Studying Gastronomy is a life-changing decision for me! So exited!

Jocette Lee
JocetteLee-PhotoJocette is a recent graduate of Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration. During her undergraduate career, she was able to spend considerable time in both Turkey and France, and has since developed interest in each of these food cultures.

Growing up in the American Southwest, she has a strong love and passion for New Mexican dishes and spicy flavor. Tamales are her specialty!

She is eager to enter into a program that truly concentrates on the cultural and anthropological aspects of food. Since she was very young, she has always been drawn to food both for indulgent and social purposes.

Jocette is beyond excited to continue to learn about the gastronomical impact of food in the development of society. This program could not be a better fit for the next phase of her life and she is ready to soak up as much knowledge and experience as possible!

Meri Lippard
merilippardMeri Lippard, a lifetime foodie and locavore, grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts. At a young age she had a connection to cooking and food that grew into a passion. Relishing childhood memories of baking bread with her great grandmother and watching her Mom make chicken soup made her realize that she wanted a career in the culinary industry that combined her love of food with her desire to share that with others.

Meri is a recent graduate of Stonehill College, where she studied English and Business Administration. Within her four years of undergraduate, she interned for two semesters with a local culinary magazine, edible South Shore, where she found her inspiration for food journalism. She also worked as a baker and cupcake decorator and is now working for a catering company as a chef, cultivating her culinary creativity.

She is eager to be a part of the Gastronomy program to further develop her fervor for food.

Yao Lu
Yao was born and raised in Chengdu, China, a city with great food culture. The passion for food has also rooted in her family blood when Yao’s great-grandfather was apprenticed to a traditional Chinese bakery in Shanghai 1914.

Yao has earned her bachelor’s degree in advertising from Michigan State University. During her undergraduate career, she studied photography in Hikone Japan, and lived in Bangkok, Thailand for a summer. Not only was she fascinated by the wonderful cuisines, but she also developed great interest in Asian as well as world’s food culture and history. Lately she is researching food therapy and traditional Chinese medicine. She looks forward to broadening her knowledge of food and culture at BU and to taking her first step to a career involved food to help people in a meaningful way.

In her free time, Yao enjoys learning new languages, cooking and reading. Succulent is her new favorite plant.

Shane Matlock
IMG_3014Shane comes to the Gastronomy program in a very unorthodox manner. He is currently fulfilling his final 6 months as an Active Duty US Army Captain. Originally from Boise, ID, Shane studied Media Communications at college in San Diego, CA and joined the military as an officer shortly after 9/11. After being stationed in Upstate, NY and Virginia (twice), including a one year trip to Afghanistan, Shane received his dream assignment: France! He spent three wonderful years in Lille, France (on the Belgian border), eating and drinking his way through Europe, not to mention having his two daughters born in the local hospital. While Shane has always had a passion for the local food scene, the culture of food and beverage in Europe hooked him for life.

Shane has spent his last two years in Southern MA (living near Providence, RI), preparing for the next chapter. After receiving his MBA in 2011, he committed to a career change that involved his love of food and the role it plays in our lives. Not having ANY experience in food on a professional level, he has yet to narrow down how his passion will translate into a career…but can’t wait to find out.

Sheere Ng
IMG_2553Sheere Ng has learnt many things about herself, her family and her city — Singapore — through her meals. What better way to spend the final two years of her twenties than reading, talking and obsessing about food? She is drawn to Boston University’s Gastronomy program because it discusses food at the arts, anthropological, and political level. This will make a regular meal of chilli crab or chicken rice much more charismatic and intriguing.

After graduating from journalism school, Sheere worked as an assistant editor at Makansutra, a Singapore-based company that produces Asian street food guides. Before she left the company, she worked on its inaugural World Street Food Congress, helping to source ingredients for over 30 stalls that were specially flown into Singapore to bring attention to the challenges of the future of street food across the globe.

When she completes her master’s degree, Sheere will return home, where food still very much centres on consumption, to spread the many other meanings of food.

Carlos Olaechea
carlosCarlos C. Olaechea was born in Lima, Peru after his mother ate too much at a pachamanca, the Peruvian answer to the clambake but with guinea pigs and tamales. The traditional Andean feast that triggered his birth sparked Carlos’s lifelong love for culture and cuisine. While his peers played video games, young Carlos was studying ethnic cookbooks and experimenting with recipes. Growing up in Miami with an American mother and Peruvian father, Carlos was exposed to many worlds and credits his upbringing with his ability to view culture with an analytical eye.

Carlos began expressing his ideas through writing at the age of 11 with articles he contributed to his middle school newspaper that explained sushi, recommended good local restaurants, and highlighted the African influences in Hispanic culture. He received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology at Florida International University and was the food columnist for his university’s newspaper, The Beacon.

Carlos has continued to unite his three loves – culture, food, and writing – as the Miami dining editor for Joonbug and contributed to Soul of Miami and Examiner, as well as his own blog. He loves getting to the soul of traditional cuisines, is interested in how cities develop a culinary identity, and is eating his way towards becoming a Haitian food expert. He hopes to publish books demystifying foreign cuisines for Americans, starting with one about the diverse food of his hometown, Lima.

Jennifer Packard
jpackardJennifer grew up in Minnesota but has lived in Boston for the past fourteen years. She has an undergraduate business degree from the University of St. Thomas (in St. Paul – not on the Caribbean island) and an MBA from the Wharton School in Philadelphia. Jen spent the past fifteen years doing marketing for various food companies and currently works full time as a brand manager. Jen is fascinated by the history of food and its place in our culture. She would like to better understand the connections between food, communities, and the supply chain in an effort to influence those relationships for the better.

Growing up with a mother who loved to bake, Jen still worships the holy trinity of flour, sugar, and butter. She loves to try new restaurants, but having three young sons at home, doesn’t get out nearly as often as she’d like to. Instead, Jen regularly subjects her family to sampling all of her experimental recipes (though her kids have made it very clear that they would be perfectly happy with plain pasta). In addition to food and wine, Jennifer enjoys gardening, hiking, reading and doing crossword puzzles.

Ty Robinson
DSC_0489Ty grew up in Steamboat Springs, CO also known as Ski Town USA. Mom was always cooking first class meals and Ty “helped” from an early age. Ty has always been interested in food as something more than simply something to eat. He graduated from St. Olaf College in 2010 with a degree in Social Studies Education. While at St. Olaf, Ty started exploring his love of food history and culture whenever he got the opportunity. Since graduating Ty has worked in Minnesota’s premier liquor store, France 44 Wines & Spirits, and has come to love all things related to alcohol. Ty is looking forward to exploring the crash of food cultures and also the various trends in alcohol over the course of history while a student at B.U.

Sarah Rush
SarahRushI am from Austin, Texas, and earned my Bachelor’s in English and Government at UT Austin. When health issues arose in my early twenties, I shifted my focus to food and to the germane topics surrounding it. This necessary interest gradually grew into a lifestyle and a passion. I currently work in a farm-to-table restaurant, and haphazardly keep a blog about all things food-related. I’ve spent my four years post-graduation looking for a program like this one, and I am overjoyed to be coming to Boston in the Fall.




Rose Saltalamacchia
20130727_193006I grew up in northern New Jersey in a big Italian-Irish family, with a father who worked for decades in the restaurant business. Because of this combination of experiences, I understood from an early age that meals did not just appear in front of me: someone, whether it was my father, my aunt, or one of the cooks in the restaurant, had worked hard to create it. When I studied environmental studies as an undergrad in California, I became even more interested in food production and its environmental and social impacts. I interned on a local organic farm, and after graduating and a year as a volunteer teacher abroad, I followed my interest in Italian culture and farming to Italy, where I worked as a W.W.O.O.F volunteer for 4 months.
My interests in food have evolved to include the intersections of food production, food policy, culture, and food justice, and I look forward to exploring these interests, learning from my classmates, and deepening my knowledge though the Gastronomy program!

Samantha Shane
samanthashaneSamantha recently graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a bachelor’s degree in History. Growing up in Washington, D.C., her exposure to a diversity of cultures and cuisines fostered her love of food and its role in society. After an internship with up-and-coming chef Cara Stadler, chef/owner of Tao Yuan in Brunswick, Maine, Samantha was inspired to combine her academic interests with her deep love of food and cooking. Through the Gastronomy program, she hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the multifaceted and constantly evolving food industry. Samantha plans to pursue a career in food writing, and eventually she would like to open a small restaurant or craft food market. Aside from cooking, her hobbies include writing, traveling, hiking, and skiing. She is excited to spend more time in Boston and see what the city’s food scene has to offer.


Leigh Shaplen
food pic (1)Growing up working in restaurants and in a family of winemakers and cooks inspired Leigh to live all things food. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area Leigh moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago to follow two of her biggest passions, food and college football. Since then she received her B.A. from the University of Southern California and has a career in restaurant advertising.

Leigh is ecstatic to become further connected to food marketing, policy and systems through BU’s Gastronomy program. Ultimately she hopes to achieve her dream job of working alongside chefs and restaurant owners in a Marketing role.

Leigh has traveled the world both independently and through the Semester at Sea program seeking food experiences and culinary gems.She enjoys cooking Californian and Italian food for her friends and family and is very excited to get to know the city of Boston-and all the best brunch places!

Annie St. Clair
Originally from Fort Worth, Texas Annie graduated from Eckerd College with a BA in international business with a minor in anthropology.

She discovered her love for Anthropology and Food when she studied abroad on Semester At Sea Fall 2009 voyage. She enrolled in an anthropology course called Food and Culture, which explored cultural anthropology through food in relation to geographical, political and cultural influences on consumption and traditions. Describing her experience, Annie says, ‘The course was extremely fascinating because we discussed the food ways of the countries were visiting, which allowed us to experience the food culture firsthand when we arrived in each port! Trying new foods became one of my favorite pastimes.’

Most recently working as an international flight attendant, Annie continues to indulge in new international cuisine, her favorites being breakfast and street foods. However, the exposure to many different cultural food traditions has ignited an eagerness in her to make a difference in her own cultures food landscape. Disappointed in the cheap, convenient, calorie rich, nutrient deficient American food culture, Annie would like to use her Gastronomy degree to transform the American perspective on food.

Chanel Alexandria Winston
Chanel AlexandriaWhile earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia in Business Administration, Chanel Alexandria had the opportunity to serve as a Missouri Senate Intern whose committee coverage included the Agricultural Committee. This lead to a discussion about why the Senator viewed this assignment more crucial than her coveted Appropriations Committee appointment, which ended with one simple question “How many things are more important than the food we eat?” Combined with Chanel’s natural appetite for healthy lifestyles, this conversation planted a seed that has forever changed how she pondered and experienced vittles.

Chanel Alexandria carried this growing passion to the Atlanta, Georgia area where she earned a Master’s in Public Administration from Georgia State University. During this experience she bolstered her love for food in new ways by working in legislative affairs and learning more about the intricacies involved in shaping policy decisions. While studying, she was also selected to serve as a Governor’s Graduate Intern which opened her eyes to food issues while administering and exploring a policy portfolio that included agriculture, economic development, transportation, public safety, environmental issues, and the state budget.

From there Chanel went on to the Washington, DC area to serve in the federal government. Within this capacity she has worked on healthy driver initiatives geared towards ensuring commercial carriers are afforded better resources for nutritious food choices to remain “fit for duty” while driving on our nation’s highways. During her tenure she was also selected to visit India as a member of a People to People International Public Administration Delegation. In this role as a Citizen Ambassador, she enjoyed the opportunity to explore food within a cultural context, learning more about food as a symbolic tool and observing some of the widespread socioeconomic issues surrounding food in developing countries.

Today Chanel is focused upon exploring food in a more academic manner to incorporate gastronomy into her business as a holistic image consultant, with hopes of adding to the broader discussion of food options, choices, and awareness.

Kat Wood
KatWoodGrowing up, I was an unadventurous eater. I scoffed at foods brightly colored or leafy. In my early twenties I started paying attention to my health, and the food around me. Soon after I took an Anthropology of Food class during my undergrad at St. Cloud State University and my eyes were opened to the academic study of food. Since my food awakening I have been visiting markets around the world, farming organically, learning to cook, managing a from scratch kitchen and volunteering for the Home Plus Study at the University of Minnesota. I am excited to be attending Boston University’s Gastronomy program because I want to study food through a cultural lens, utilizing the historical, political, geographic and economic factors that influence human consumption. I also cannot wait to taste, cook and explore food with my fellow classmates and faculty. When I am not eating or cooking, I love going to shows, hiking and I’m always planning my next trip!