New Gastronomy and Food Studies Students, Spring 2021

We look forward to welcoming a wonderful group of new students into our programs this spring. Enjoy getting to know a few of them here.

Like any good story, it started with a love of bagels. It might have been the New York in her blood, but Emily Bowers left the city circa. 1997 and was raised in the land down under where everything is too large and trying to kill you. Florida.

Earning a BBA from Belmont University in Music Business and Audio Engineering, Emily found herself in Nashville with nary a job in sight. Then, her love of bagels proved useful as she began her restaurant career at the newly opened bagel shop across from the university. From there she went on to manage restaurants until the love of bagels could sustain her no more. Exhausted, Emily returned home to Florida just in the nick of time.

COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement exploded and Emily was left debating how she could best contribute to the education and reparations towards the Black and Indigenous communities in the United States. Books were ordered and read, but still she was indecisive. Then, one fateful night, she was watching Ancient Aliens with her dad (his choice, but no one was complaining) and the narrator began discussing the culture of the Maya. She paid closer attention because her favorite newly purchased book discussed the food systems of the Aztec, Inca, and Maya and she was enthralled. That’s when the question hit her: is there somewhere she could study food systems and their intersection with culture and sovereignty? And here we are. When not eating bagels, Emily can be found with her black cat Kylo Ren watching the Great British Bake Off, playing Pokémon on her Switch, or hiking local trails.

It’s the Winter of 2016, and Michael Karsh wakes from a restless sleep on the floor of a rental van barreling down the I-95 in the wee morning hours. The van pulls into a rest stop for yet another Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast as Michael wearily begins another day on his band’s first tour.

While unremarkable at first glance, this prophetic vignette illustrates the birth of Michael’s passion for food.

Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Michael  studied Music at Brown University with the intention of entering the music business. Landing a music management/publishing job in New York after college, Michael seemed to be achieving his goals; however, his creative pursuits beckoned, and he quit his job after a year to become a professional musician and hit the road with his band.

The intensive demands of professional touring forced Michael to reckon with his love of food and the cornucopia of unhealthy options on the road. The rigors of the road demanded he answer a seemingly simple question: “What is healthy food?” Michael gradually adopted a plant-based diet, and before long, completely transformed and improved his lifestyle, health and well-being, as well as his performance level. Fascinated and motivated by his personal transformation, he immersed himself in research on human biology, dietary interventions and biomarker data to explore the relationship between diet and health. Before long, his coping strategy for a physically demanding career had blossomed into one of his greatest passions.

While Michael continues to pursue music full-time in Brooklyn, NY, he hopes to synthesize his own experiences in health and wellness with BU’s Food Studies curriculum to address some of the most critical global challenges surrounding food sustainability, climate change and public health.

José Lopez Ganem is an emerging thinker on cacao and chocolate conducting interdisciplinary research drawing on the fields of history, government, management, religion, and trade. Most recently, he developed several projects for the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI), where in 2019/20 he was the first FCCI Latin American Cultural Exchange Fellow, representing his native Mexico. He is also a continuing instructor for FCCI Cacao Academy, an online platform developed by FCCI. He has presented his work at several scholarly forums such as Harvard University, the Culinary Institute of America, Illinois State University, the European Business School Paris, among others. His professional experience also includes an engaged period in the food industry in New York City, briefly interning at the top-rated Eleven Madison Park restaurant and at the extinct FIKA Chocolate Lab.

He graduated magna cum laude from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 2018 with a B.B.A. in Food Business Management, accompanied by a concentration in Advance Wine Studies. During his permanence at CIA, he completed various educational and trade certifications at the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and the Society of Wine Educators (SWE). He was awarded in 2017 with Kopf Scholarship for Wine Studies, given by Kobrand Corporation to a selected group of graduating students of Boston University, Cornell University, Johnson & Wales University, and the CIA. In 2017/18 he endured and successfully completed training in Japanese Cuisine and Culture sponsored by the Suntory Corporation and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF) of Japan.

In his spare time, José continues to collaborate as a non-resident research fellow at FCCI and Harvard University, both under the guidance of Dr. Carla D. Martin. You can find him behind a non-fiction book or a printed British newspaper, all while enjoying over-steeped high quality black tea.

Born in the Midwest and raised in the South, Samantha Maxwell was forced to learn how to cook when she started exploring veganism in college. It didn’t stick, but it opened her up to a whole new world of ingredients that she had never encountered until that point.

After graduating with a BA in English literature, she began a freelance writing career, which provided her enough freedom to travel. This led her to a love of both quiet solo breakfasts and raucous group dinners with generous strangers. When she realized that most of her travel plans revolved around specific restaurants or dishes, she knew that she wanted to make food her focus.

Now working in food media as a writer and editor, Samantha is excited to take her interest in food to a deeper level to explore not just new flavors but also the cultures they come from and the social and political realities that undergird them. She’s interested in learning about how food connects different cultures and how we can use food to foster greater understanding and compassion for those who may live — and eat — differently than we do.

When she’s not writing or attempting a new recipe, Samantha enjoys hiking, exploring cities, doing yoga, reading, and people watching at coffee shops. She’s new to Boston and welcomes restaurant, bookstore, and plant shop recommendations.

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