Giselle Kennedy Lord Named James Beard Foundation National Scholar

Gastronomy at BU is proud to announce that student Giselle Kennedy Lord was recently selected as the James Beard Foundation National Scholar Northwest.

The JBF National Scholars Program “provides ten high-impact scholarships of $20,000 each to food-focused candidates of exceptional talent.” Winners are chosen based on academic standing, personal recommendations, and professional recommendations.

A recent dinner hosted by Giselle Kennedy Lord.

“My application for the scholarship was centered around my focus in the BU gastronomy program, which is how people express home and identity through food and cooking. My thesis research, which I will do in the Spring of 2018, will be a deep dive into that theme as it relates to the Lebanese diaspora in Argentina and the Americas,” says Lord.

Giselle lives in the Columbia Gorge area of Oregon, where she launched her small business, Quincho, in 2015. In the years before launching Quincho and becoming a Gastronomy student at BU, she worked as a freelance video producer specializing in food and agriculture in the Pacific Northwest.

Giselle now hosts pop-up, food-culture-focused events with Quincho and she is currently working on launching an online shop of cookware and kitchenware connected to distinct food cultures and artistic traditions. According to Lord, “Quincho is about culture, community, and cookery. It’s a celebration of foodways and culinary tradition the world round. It’s a call to gather with like-minded people to learn something new, be inspired to explore, and empowered to create.”

Giselle will travel to Argentina in January to conduct ethnographic research for her thesis. In between interviews and kitchen sessions, she will be on the lookout for unique cookware and working to forge connections with local artisans. She also plans to eat a lot of empanadas, peruse every street fair, and hunt for vintage cookbooks.

You can follow her journey on the Quincho blog: http://quincho.co/blog/

Alumni Spotlight: Nina Quirk

nina-headshotFinding the perfect career path can be a struggle for some Gastronomy graduates. Throughout my time in the program, my friends and I would discuss matters such as balancing hospitality industry schedules with families, low pay and menial incentives, endless hours of kitchen drudgery, and many more unappealing aspects common to a life devoted to food.

While pursuing my degree, I worked as a personal chef, specializing in cooking for people with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and food allergies, using advanced diet therapies to help address those conditions. This offered flexibility, hands-on experience and decent pay, but clients came in waves. I found myself craving the social atmosphere of a kitchen and wondering what foodservice management might be like.

My husband works in elder care, so I conducted various studies with the senior population he served as I worked toward my master’s degree. I researched nursing home and assisted living gardens, taste loss and aging, and Grandmother Cuisine, among other topics. That new interest in senior food systems led me to pursue a career with SALMON Health and Retirement, a housing and healthcare organization in Central Massachusetts.

In June 2015, I took the position of Director of Dining Services for SALMON’s Natick campus. Our building houses 66 residents in assisted living apartments (including memory care), 54 residents in a skilled nursing center, 50 children in the SALMON Early Education Center, and 45 Adult Day Health Center clients. All in all, the kitchen I manage feeds 200 people daily.

When I arrived on the scene, there were obstacles to overcome. In my first few weeks on the job, we went from using an outside contractor to being a Salmon-managed kitchen. As the first manager of this new operation, I saw boundless opportunities to create a wonderful, gastronomy-friendly system for a superior dining program. I started by teaching my culinary team to cook menu items from scratch, saying goodbye to the frozen and canned past they knew. I hired a talented pastry chef to elevate the baked goods and treats on campus. Now, most of our food items are homemade, including salad dressings, breads, pizza and desserts. Our residents grew enthusiastic and happier with the new dining services over time, and the positive impact good food had on the whole community became obvious.

This acceptance allowed me to host a variety of programs to engage our residents around food:

  • We formed a traveling group, visiting foodie destinations like the Boston Public Market or the Boston Public Library for afternoon tea, and various local farms.
  • We established a Solarium for residents to grow plants—both edible and flowering. The space is solely dedicated to the garden craft; it’s also been widely accepted by our residents with dementia.
  • Each month, we host interactive cooking demonstrations where residents handcraft ethnic specialties. So far, we’ve made ravioli, pierogi, tomato tarts, pickles, jams, and much more.
  • We partnered with a group called Brain Wellness to conduct a three-part seminar on brain-healthy eating where I cooked the foods and served them to a full house.
  • Our most recent endeavor is a program called Heritage Cuisine. We’ll gather recipes and food traditions from our residents’ families to create a varied and unique campus cuisine.

We have a lot of fun at work building community around food, and I feel very fortunate. This position has provided me with the perfect application of the Gastronomy Program: food infused with meaning.

The Oyster Revival

Filmmaker and Gastronomy student Allison Keir shares her new film: The Oyster Revival 

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Photo: oysterrevival.com

Over the last century, coastlines throughout New England and across the globe endured dramatic transformations. The foundations of mankind slowly overtook the ecological bedrock—a massive expanse of oyster beds that once harbored a bounty of creatures. In the last 100 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have skyrocketed, acidifying the oceans. Deteriorating municipal infrastructures, agricultural and industrial runoff, continue to disrupt nature’s balance. Powerful storms, now without the underwater obstacles of oyster beds to temper them, are devastating our seashores. Some believe these underwater environs are beyond repair.

But there may be a solution to aid the problem, right within the hands of nature. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day—an entire reef? Millions. The presence of these reefs, attract multitudes of other creatures that feed larger predators, building populations, and improving our fisheries. Oysters are the gills of our estuaries, and the scaffolding that supports coastal biodiversity. Their return might stifle ecological devastation worldwide.

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Photo: oysterrevival.com

The Oyster Revival is a story about revitalizing a tenuous relationship between man and mollusk, and the efforts being made to restore ecological balance to our coastlines. The documentary and transmedia campaign will explore the important role oysters play in maintaining a healthy ocean environment, and the various groups of people around the world advocating for their efficacy.

Learn more here and on Facebook.

Bringing Food History to Nutrition

This is the third post in a series highlighting the ways students utilize Boston University’s many resources to cater the Gastronomy program to fit their own unique interests and needs. Don’t miss Carlos’ post on Entrepreneurship or Debra’s on Technology.

by Kelly Toups

As an eager, young registered dietitian, I quickly realized I’d rather spend my time talking about the “food” aspect of nutrition than insulin and tube feedings. The BU Gastronomy program, which focused on issues of culture, policy, food systems, and cuisine, was exactly the kind of education I that I needed to specialize within my field, and transition to a more food-focused career.

Continue reading “Bringing Food History to Nutrition”

Hungry For Words

By Rachel DeSimone

In the second grade, I wrote an elaborate “scary story,” complete with colorful illustrations and as much suspense-filled detail as a seven-year-old could muster up. My family praised my work on high, fulfilling their parental duties, and it was set—I was going to be a writer. After about six more imaginary career changes between the ages of 10 and 23, I have come full circle back to pen and paper (I do still write things out on paper). This time, however, the topic isn’t ghouls and monsters, it’s savories and confections.

Photo 2In my junior year at Boston University, I applied to be a writer for the new chapter of Spoon University at BU. Spoon University is a national food publication written by college students for college students sharing their love of food; the site has gained much recognition over the past year. Little did I know that I would become the Editor-in-Chief of the BU operation just three months after sending in my application and crossing my fingers that I’d be taken aboard. Although I was skeptical at first about my ability to handle the weight of this position, soon enough it all came naturally, and I found myself filling the Editor-in-Chief shoes with ease.

This was my first experience in a structured editorial environment, and I had just hoped to dip my toe into the buttercream. Consequently, it became the jumping off point for my future in food writing and becoming a grad student in BU’s Gastronomy program. I faced some challenges trying to popularize the BU Spoon University chapter and influence such a large student body with fast-paced schedules and widely-varying interests. With seven members to start, our team rapidly expanded to 20, then 50, people. We became a familiar name on campus and shot up from the 39th-ranked chapter within the Spoon University college network to number two.

Over the full year that I spent as Editor-in-Chief, I learned not only about Version 2food in the Boston area, but also how to manage a large team of people, maintain a website with up-to-date and captivating food content, and create a fun and positive work environment. I also learned that the food writing field is where I need to be. As I realized this, I was simultaneously applying to the Gastronomy program. After watching my best friend and co-leader of Spoon University BU, Laurel Greenfield, go through her first year as a Gastronomy student, I awaited my own acceptance. Upon receiving the exhilarating news that I got into the program, I knew that there was nothing better I could do for my future food writing career.

I am currently taking two core classes this semester, the first being Introduction to Gastronomy: Theory & Methodology with Karen Metheny. It which covers an array of disciplines related to the field of gastronomy, along with giving students a solid understanding of what gastronomy actually is. The second class I am taking is History of Food with Kyri Claflin, where students gain an understanding of historical method while exercising it through class work and a culminating final project. I plunged right into things as I often do with these two courses, which both demand a high quantity of work, but I have found myself advancing each week. Class readings and discussions have elevated my way of thinking when it comes to a piece of theoretical or academic writing, and I have learned to critically dissect these works while drawing parallels between them.

Taking these two classes together has been an eye-opening experience, allowing me to understand what the gastronomy program and grad school in general are all about. I have found that it is about digging deeper than you thought you had to, or thought you could, into your work, and as a result, being able to draw your own conclusions and form your own opinions with certainty. In terms of writing, I have begun to find my academic voice, and I know that further classes with help me hone in on that skill. I am looking forward to taking the Food Writing class with Corby Kummer in the spring and having the opportunity to bring some focus to my writing. I hope to inform my food writing and create a foundation for myself to move forward in the editorial field in a meaningful and scrumptious way. Each day I wake up I am hungry for words (and ice cream).