Welcome New Students for Spring 2018!


chard in snow

We are looking forward to welcoming new students to the MLA in Gastronomy and Food Studies Certificate programs at Boston University. Here is the first batch of their bios and photos. We hope you will enjoy getting to know them!

Jackie Deschamps

Jackie DeschampsI grew up in a small town in upstate New York nestled in the Schoharie Valley between the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains. Surrounded by farmland (which I admittedly did not appreciate at the time), my family used to go right to the goat farm for cheese or to the local farm stand for produce. I earned my undergraduate degree in communication management and design from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York before pursuing my first jobs at a music promotion company in London, UK and then a talent agency in West Hollywood, California.

Since 2012, I’ve been working in the private club industry in Saint Petersburg, Florida and now my work has brought me home to the northeast and to Boston. Through my work in branding, marketing, and special events I’ve been fortunate to work with incredible teams and chefs including Wolfgang Puck, Scott Conant, and more. It was through working in the club industry that I began to thrive on the pace and anticipation of culinary events; I always felt like we were putting on a theatrical production where the ambiance and guest list were just as vital to our story as the food. I’ve always enjoyed sharing stories and creating memorable experiences, which may be what attracted me to the culinary world, as chefs and their teams are storytellers. A certified Level 1 Wine Specialist by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), I hope to earn my French Wine Scholar certification and eventually become a Champagne master as well. I’ve always felt a very strong connection to both my French and Italian heritage, which may explain my deep-rooted love for food, wine, and the cultural significance they represent.

I grew up watching Jacques Pepin on television and have always been a fan of Julia Child; their involvement with Boston University is how I discovered the Gastronomy program and was definitely a driving force in my decision to attend BU. I’ve always had a passion for travel and discovering culinary traditions and the Gastronomy program is the perfect place to explore even further with likeminded, yet unique individuals and teachers who all share a passion for food culture. I am most interested in learning more about why people eat what they eat, who they eat with, and why; from cultural, historical and political perspectives.

Favorite food quote: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin, The Physiology of Taste

Janaea Eads

Janaea EadsI learned from a very early age the important role that food plays in bringing families and people together. I was adopted from an orphanage in India that placed a huge circular table in the middle of the common room so everyone could share every meal together, and was welcomed into a family where at breakfast we talked about what to eat at lunch, and at lunch, we talked about what to eat at dinner. Growing up, I became extremely familiar with the Eads’ family mottos: “If your name ain’t on it, it’s gonna get eaten!” and “Education is the best gift you can give someone.”

I combined these two mottos while growing up by using my family members as guinea pigs and spending time tutoring and mentoring younger students. Influenced by my dad’s love for travel, I developed the same passion for exploring new cultures and cuisines. My love for food and travel took me to Rome for a semester during college. It was in Rome where I realized that food meant much more to me than a simple motto. However, despite this realization, I thought I’d be better off pursuing what I had ignorantly assumed as a more “practical” degree: a J.D. After graduating from Stony Brook University in 2016 with a BA in English, I spent a year abroad in the Marshall Islands and taught English and College Preparatory to high school students. I also spent the year creating different ways to eat coconuts and fish and found that I was only truly relaxed when cooking; the kitchen was where I’d meditate. After spending a year on an island with a 5-mile circumference and realizing how tiny we all really are, I realized that I couldn’t waste any more time pursuing something I didn’t love. I abandoned my law school track and immediately applied to BU’s program. They say that all roads lead back to Rome, and I am hoping that this is where my degree will take me. I’d love to work for the UN World Food Programme, and also create my own mentorship program that encourages independence, self-sustainability, and overall growth and confidence in youth, so they, too, can grow to love food and the places it can take us.

Laura Kitchings

Laura Kitchings I completed a Bachelor of Arts at Macalester College in Religious Studies. As part of my program I conducted archeological fieldwork in Israel, which began my interest in the study of material culture. After a museum internship in Hawaii, where I gained an interest in Polynesian cooking and history, I earned a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from the University of Washington.

Returning to New England in 2008, I pursued professional positions in local archives. I earned a Master of Science in Library Science and a Master of Arts in History, both from Simmons College. As part of my academic programs I traveled to the Czech Republic and South Korea with other librarians and archivists. Some of my favorite experiences during the trips were mealtime conversations with local and American information professionals. The conversations often included discussions of food rules followed by different cultures.

In 2012, while changing my diet to manage health issues, I began taking cooking classes at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE), where I gained an interest in food appliances and technologies. From 2014 to 2017, I worked as an archivist for The Trustees of Reservations, and my work led me to learn about food producers and organizations in Massachusetts.

With a Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy, I plan to combine my interests in History, Material Culture, and Food Culture to study mainstream adaptions of cooking technologies.

Laura McCarthy

Laura McCarthyMy grandparents came to the United States from China, and this early exposure to non-American food and culture stoked my curiosity about other cuisines and food traditions. I grew up in Maryland and enjoyed helping my parents and grandparents in the kitchen and especially loved thinking about the next meal while eating a meal. I was never a picky child and would happily give any food a try such as stir fried snails, spicy kim chee, or dim sum chicken feet. As a result of being adventuresome early, there really isn’t any food I don’t like.

I took the practical education route and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in Finance. I worked as a financial analyst until moving to a tiny island near Hiroshima, Japan after getting married. Trying to shop for groceries in a foreign language I didn’t yet know and cook with unfamiliar ingredients was a challenge every day. After buying a Japanese cookbook and beginning to learn to speak and read Japanese, my eyes were opened to new flavors, foods, and an ancient food culture strongly based on cooking with the seasons. It was a wonderful education and introduction to a new food culture.

With our two children, we also lived in Seattle, London, and Tokyo and settled in the Boston area in 2003. While living abroad, we were fortunate to travel through many countries in both Europe and Asia and try new foods while learning about other food cultures and food histories. As a stay-at- home parent, I became the primary preparer of family meals and used this opportunity to try to recreate some of the foods and dishes we tasted on our travels. Cooking for family and friends was a fun way to experiment and push myself to cook more challenging things. This quest has broadened the depth of my cooking experience and cooking repertoire and fueled my growing interest in cooking and food. In 2010, wanting to further my cooking experience, I volunteered to test recipes for an upcoming cookbook. Since then, I have worked with 3 cookbook authors and tested recipes for 6 published cookbooks. Through this valuable experience of recipe testing, I realized that I might know what I’d like to do when I grow up.

The Gastronomy program will help me toward my goal of becoming a professional recipe creator and tester. I am excited to meet other students who are as food-focused as I am and learn about their journeys to the Gastronomy program. I would also like to further explore food policy and try to find ways to make a difference as a food advocate addressing food access and food quality issues. The experience and knowledge gained from this education will deepen my understanding of food and its role in our lives and prepare me for a career in the world of food.

Larissa Weiner

Larissa WeinerI have always had a love for food. Ever since I was a little child, I had an extensive palate. I would try anything my father would try (my mother has a blain palate) so if he was eating sushi, I was eating sushi. I like to learn about the proper pairings of wine and cheese or wine and main dishes, and had a little experience with that when I attended Johnson and Wales University in 2007. I graduated from the University of Hartford in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Human Communications. I have been with Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine for five and half years now. I started in the Clinical Patient Finance office in 2012 and in 2016 moved to the Dental Health Center on the 7th floor as a Patient Care Coordinator. In January of 2017, I was promoted to the Clinical and Administrative Manager of the Periodontology department. Starting in the end of January 2018, I will be starting a new position as the Administrative Manager for the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Throughout my years at Boston University Dental School, I have traveled to 6 different countries and 26 states across the US. My main focus was to try the cuisine that was most popular for that country or state. I have a thirst for knowledge and cannot wait to learn more in the Gastronomy and Food Studies department this coming semester!

Siddharth Yerra

Siddharth YerraSiddharth Yerra was born in Hyderabad, India, but stayed all over the country. He is the grandson of a third generation farmer, and grew up around a farm and a lot of food. He completed his undergraduate degree in commerce from Delhi University. After which he worked at a small family run cafe and patisserie called Desserted.

Cities such as Delhi, Lucknow and Hyderabad fabled for their rich food history have had a great influence on the way Siddharth has come to know food. His maternal upbringing, which shaped him as a person and most of his life lessons, experiences were given in the kitchen had food invariably playing a part, which is why he feels it has got so much more to it. He wants to improve the existing foodways in India, with an aim to create an equal food platform. He hopes that the gastronomy program at Boston University will connect him to like-minded people and different food cultures.



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