New Students – Spring 2013

As the falls semester comes to a close, we welcome new students to the Gastronomy Program!

Amy Allen

amy allen photo

Amy is a native Californian and former vegetarian who moved to New England for love 13 years ago, and is happily married and has helped raise three stepchildren since. Her interests include reading cookbooks (Rick Bayless, Claudia Roden, Yotam Ottolenghi, Heidi Swanson, Mark Bittman, and Melissa Clark are some favorites), cooking for friends and family, socializing around food, trying granola recipes, doing yoga, and searching for good Mexican and Vietnamese food in this area. Amy likes traveling and learning about local cuisines and was recently surprised to discover in Portugal how much she liked grilled octopus and the signature pastry, pastel de nata.

In her professional life, Amy develops Web content and videos to help people make decisions about medical treatment and manage chronic healthcare conditions. She chose the BU Gastronomy program to bring her professional and culinary interests together and contribute to solutions to obesity (which might include teaching people to cook and enjoy good food). Follow Amy on

Amanda Balagur

Amanda Balagur photoAmanda Balagur grew up on the south shore of Long Island, just over the border from Queens.  She got her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in Theatre Arts and Communications.  After living in NYC for several years, she moved to Minnesota and has lived there for the past 10 years.  Since college, she has mainly worked in marketing for large corporations, with intermittent stints in the music industry and as a server and baker in Minneapolis.

Amanda spent five years as a news anchor, reporter and dj for a community radio station, and launched her Twin Cities-based local food podcast, Localicious, in 2010.  She enjoys interviewing people, especially farmers, chefs, policy makers and food lovers, and sharing their stories with others.  Amanda also does commercial voiceovers, has been a board member and singing member of the Twin Cities Women’s Choir, and practices yoga.  She looks forward to researching and writing about food history, and hopes to put her cross country skis to good use in Boston.

Claudia Catalano

Claudia CatalanoBorn and raised in the Boston area, Claudia holds a BFA in Communications Design from Syracuse University. From 1994-2004 she lived and worked as a graphic designer in New York City where she also moonlighted as a kitchen assistant for the New School Culinary Department. Since moving back to the Boston area, she spent 7 years as an experience designer at Continuum—a consultancy specializing in human-centered design. Currently, she is an independent design consultant specializing in branding for the local food movement.

In addition to her lifelong connection to all things culinary, her motivations for studying gastronomy are her interest in food cultures and her desire to be part of the exciting local food movement. Food is elemental to society. Therefore, she believes that a food-centered career would be deeply meaningful.

Claudia lives in Arlington, Massachusetts with her husband and 2 children. Samples of her design work can be seen at:

Paige Elliot

Paige ElliotPaige graduated from Binghamton University with degrees in Anthropology and History and holds a special place in her heart for all things Early Modern, and European. Getting her feet wet in event planning and catering with a local, annual Wine and Food Festival, she seeks to pursue Gastronomy full time. She intends to work in food writing and tourism.

Boston is an exciting change of pace and she looks forward to enjoying fresh seafood and pursuing the best microbreweries and breakfast hot spots. In her spare time she noodles on the bassoon and is on the hunt for one to call her own.

Laura Fakhry

Laura Fakry

Laura loves to eat, travel and teach. In 2008, she graduated from the University of Virginia. Laura’s goal is to find a job that involves working with food, health education, and traveling abroad.

Laura is eager to start classes in Gastronomy and food policy, and to be surrounded with other Gastronomes – “I’m sure the level of energy and passion will be amazing!”

In her free time, Laura enjoys reading, Pilates, baking bread, and traveling.

Karen Given

karen_given_romeKaren is originally from Joshua Tree, California, but Boston has been her home since she came to BU in the early ’90s. In her first go-around as a BU student, she studied Political Science and Broadcast Journalism. A work-study job at WBUR, the NPR affiliate on campus, turned into a two-decade career in public radio. Since 1995, she’s been a reporter and producer for the sports program, Only A Game.

So, what’s a sports chick doing in the Gastronomy program? It started with a blog, of course, and then expanded into a love of food writing. Karen is looking forward to learning more, writing more, and exploring more in the world of food.

Rachel Greenstein

Rachel GreensteinA recent graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles, Rachel has been fascinated by food culture for many years. As an Economics major, she looked for ways to write about food in all of her classes. During her junior year, she studied culinary arts in Florence, Italy, and delighted in the comforting cuisine of Tuscany. She then interned on a farm in Thessaloniki, Greece, specialized in eggs and dairy. After learning more about animal agriculture, Rachel switched to a vegan diet and has since then been reconciling her newfound vegan lifestyle with her longtime “foodie” identity. She hopes to share her experiences, while learning from others in order to promote sustainable and nutritious eating habits that work for all lifestyles. Outside of school, Rachel is currently on a quest to veganize all of her favorite Italian desserts.

Megan Grocki

megan_grocki_headshotMegan is an experience design director at Mad*Pow, a digital design agency. She has become both fascinated and disgusted with many aspects of the US food system: the politics that govern it, the widespread ignorance about where food comes from, how it is genetically and chemically modified, and the direct connection between the food we eat and our nation’s declining health.

In 2012, Megan helped to organize and presented at the 2nd Annual Healthcare Experience Design Conference in Boston, an experience that inspired her to further study food cultures, production, and policy. Ultimately she hopes to use her design and strategy chops to educate the public about the connections between their health and what they eat, and use design to help affect changes in food policy at local, national and global levels.

She lives in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two children.

Jessie Hazard

jessie hazardSince her days cranking out masterpieces with her Easbybake oven, Jessie Hazard has been a dedicated home cook and foodie. She’s a restaurant junkie, loves dining out, and still finds the poetry of a perfectly executed meal a little awe-inspiring.

Jessie graduated in 2003 with a Communications/Mass Media degree from the College of Charleston in South Carolina and was the Food Writer for The Charleston City Paper. She’s had the writer’s itch ever since and plans to pursue multi-media food journalism when she graduates from the BU Gastronomy program. She hopes to focus her writing and correspondent career on travel, cuisine, and food criticism.

Born and bred in Tennessee, Jessie speaks Southern fluently, but she’s never lived above the Mason-Dixon. While she is wholly unfamiliar with Beantown, dreams of a future rife with lobster rolls, Perfect Storms, and Marky Mark dance in her head.

Lindsay Howard

lindsay howardFor the past three summers, Lindsay has worked at an incredible seasonal beach side restaurant on Nantucket Island. After her first catering job, she fell in love with the food industry and continued her passion for food business while studying English Literature at Davidson College, where she was co-president of the student-run campus restaurant. During the past three winters, Lindsay traveled internationally and nationally on food, wine and beer driven adventures. She appreciates the connection between a restaurant and its community and farmers. Through her graduate study, Lindsay hopes to learn about food businesses that promote a healthier food industry and support local and international communities. She plans on moving to Beantown only two days after returning from a food and wine trip in Chile, two days before classes start!

Brittney King

Brittney KingBrittney is a graduate from Paul Smith’s College with a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel, Resort, and Tourism Management. It was during her education at PSC that she developed a deep interest in enology. Through the Gastronomy Program, Brittney seeks to broaden both her knowledge of wine and the field of food studies. Five years from now Brittney hopes to be working in a high-end restaurant as a sommelier or developing wine menus. As a small-town girls from northern New York, Brittney is excited to transition to a new city.

Nina Quirk

Nina QuirkNina Quirk, a restaurant kid from Worcester, Mass has always been inspired by her Italian grandmother’s penchant for heavenly homemade foods. Growing up amidst family made wines, pastas, sausages and everything else delicious set the stage for her life’s purpose.

As she worked her way through the Boston restaurant scene and the Massachusetts State House, Nina graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Suffolk University. She went onto travel alone throughout much of Western Europe, eventually settling in Perugia, Italy where she dove deep into the rustic culinary scene.

Upon return from her travels Nina met her husband and began work as a food writer for the Community Newspaper Company.  In search of a stable career she landed the Staffing Manager position for Boston’s premier caterer, The Catered Affair. There she managed a team of over 200 service staff. Nina left The Catered Affair in 2010 shortly after staffing their new operation at the Boston Public Library to stay home with her newborn.

Since the birth of her two sons, Nina’s background in both politics and food has led her to food activism. She promotes real food awareness and local farm to fork through tangible work like cooking, gardening, and blogging. She feels strongly that her Masters in Gastronomy will allow her to make a career out of transforming the current American food system for future generations.

Bettina Reece

Bettina ReeceBettina Reece was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During her studies at Wheaton College in Norton Massachusetts, Bettina spent her summers working at The Islesford Dock Restaurant in Islesford Maine, where she fell in love with food. After graduating with a B.A. in Psychology, and a minor in Education, Bettina moved back to the Cambridge area and started working at West Side Lounge. After trying various jobs including counseling, hospitality marketing, and wedding planning, she decided that her passion for food could be turned into a career. Bettina is currently working at West Side Lounge as a server and Assistant Manager.

When she is not busy working, Bettina enjoys eating out with friends and family, cooking, and spending time in her community garden plot. She is looking forward to being part of the Gastronomy program and hopes that it helps her to achieve her dream job. She would love to someday write a cookbook based on her grandmother’s recipes.

Dionne Reid

Dionne ReidPassionate about the food from the islands and the history of her people, Dionne is very proud of her Caribbean heritage. Throughout her culinary education at The Culinary Institute of America, Dionne plunged into a deeper realm of food and wine. Her following stint at America’s Test Kitchen gave her insight into the world of recipe development and food publications. With her education from BU, she is looking forward to bridging the gap between her passions and to playing an active part in the development and publication of Contemporary Caribbean Cuisine.

Kate Trombly

Kate TromblyKate grew up on the coast of southern Maine and is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in Communication. During her undergraduate career, she spent a semester abroad studying in Barcelona, Spain. Travels throughout Europe, years of working in catering, and a childhood full of watching cooking shows piqued her interest in food studies and the strong connection between culture and cuisine. Kate currently works at BU’s School of Management and is very excited to begin her studies in Gastronomy.

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