Memories From My Table – Paintings by Laurel Greenfield

Gastronomy alumna Laurel Greenfield is hosting an opening reception for her first solo gallery show  at Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. on February 8th from 5:30 – 7:30 PM. The gallery features some of Laurel’s favorite paintings from the past year and she will be discussing why she paints food as well as the stories behind some of her paintings. You can see more of her work at

We hope to see you at the reception!

Experiences from the Winter Fancy Food Show

By first year Gastronomy student Kaitlin Lee

Last week I attended the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. This Disneyland of food is orchestrated by the Specialty Food Association, the trade association for specialty foods in the United States. The Fancy Food Show brings together thousands of producers and thousands of products for buyers from local co-ops and Wal Mart alike. Trends are solidified. Deals are made. And so, so many samples are handed out.

I spent most of the show at a booth that makes handmade kimchi in Brooklyn, Mama O’s. Many morning visitors demurred trying the fermented condiment. My boothmate, a show veteran who’s attended regularly for the past ten years, thought this was a smart move. Endless samples can lead to hedonistic behavior, and she’s seen people vomiting in the bathroom, the result of overindulging or mixing foods like jamón ibérico, goat kefir, and barrel-aged sauerkraut in quick succession.

I successfully avoided the fate of past sensitive-stomached attendees, but by the third and final day, I walked around the floor in a daze. A bite of Roquefort at one booth, a spoon of chocolate mousse across the aisle. The SFA’s mission statement is to “shape the future of food,” and to taste the future, I had to try everything.

Photo courtesy of

“Plant-based” foods, which are framed as environment and technology friendly, were the breakout category at the show. I tried many a non-dairy cheese, from a mozzarella equivalent to an uncanny cashew brie.  With a mottled-rind exterior and creamy, faintly nutty paste, it was the Westworld host of vegan cheese. But big hype doesn’t always equate to big flavor. Plant-based butter mimicked the mouthfeel and look of the dairy derived-original, but it lacked the sweetness and satiating fullness of traditional butter. Plant-based shrimp perfectly looked the part. It had a sweet/umami flavor profile I associate with shrimp, but the thick breading emphasized the slightly spongy texture of the pea-based protein base.

The literal and metaphorical feeding frenzy is fascinating from a food studies perspective. Debates over the ethics of production, consumer desire for transparency and healthier foods, even issues of cultural appropriation and who can commodify flavors and ingredients are embedded into the most casual interactions at Fancy Food. Most of the gatekeepers and retail buyers, are white, and the majority are male, which trickles down to what consumers find at their local grocery store. I wonder what the French trade reps and proponents of legacy foods think of plant-based brie. The future of food is clearly looking forwards and backwards, and it’s anyone’s guess where it will end up.

2 Day Food Styling, Writing, and Photography Class

In this hands-on, multipart, one-and-half-day workshop, Sheryl Julian and Sally Vargas will guide participants through what it takes to style, shoot, and write about food in a compelling and successful way.

Former food editor for the Boston Globe, Julian is a cookbook author, food stylist, and writer with over thirty years of experience in food media. Vargas is a professional cook, writer, and photographer and the author of several books, including and the newly published The Cranberry Cookbook.

Day 1

In part one, the class discusses social media, blogs, books, and cameras, as well as what makes an effective and successful shot (with hands-on practice), a slide show of a dish photographed from start to finish, photo critique, and more. All photos are shot with available light, so you can reproduce at home what you learn in the workshop.

Day 2

In part two, focus turns to photographing and blogging, as students rotate between shooting a main course dish and undertaking a blog or writing critique. Students and instructors will sit together and dine on the photo food with a discussion during lunch. All levels are welcome, whether you use your phone to shoot for social media or have invested in a camera to produce photos for a blog.


The class will meet at the BU College of Fine Arts Photography Studio from noon – 5 PM on April 20th and 10 AM – 5 PM on April 21st. The cost of the class is $650. You can register for the class here.

The Oyster Revival: Restoring Our Waters

A short documentary by Allison Keir

From the moment I decided to apply to the Gastronomy program with a focus in Communication, my decision to do it has only been more and more reinforced. Aside from the vast amount of knowledge gained from the program, the connections with other faculty and students have provided a place of common ground for me to find inspiration and gratification in. Furthermore, the encouragement and support of the Directors has allowed me to mold my own course track and fulfill some of the core skills sets I was aiming to get out of the program.

My background and passion has for a long time been in film but my passion and concern for the health of our environment has been a lifestyle. I don’t have many memories from my childhood that don’t include being outside, in the woods or on a beach. As an adult I’ve been working in film in some form or another, since 2005 but it wasn’t until I began to develop the documentary, “The Oyster Revival” that I realized I could mesh these two passions together and perhaps make a career out of it.

The journey up to that point was by no means a short or simple one. It started thirteen years ago working out of the Boston area freelancing with other local filmmakers taking on whatever role I could. Eventually, it led me to Manhattan where I spent the first year bartending and picking up any freelance film projects I could get. Weeks turned into months that I wouldn’t have a day off or even notice the ball of sun in the sky but I did not care. I was busy and I loved it. I was hungry to work and get as much experience possible in the film industry. Ironically, it was the bartending position that in the end paid off the most when a regular customer I had become close with introduced me to a film producer, who was looking for an Executive Assistant to help run his company. Long story short, I got the gig and worked with the company for three years, until I slowly started to feel a pull back to what I been referring to as my second home since the days of college, California.

I gave my notice, packed my bags and drove back out to Los Angeles with no work, no place to live and very minimal funds to contribute to my endeavor. Luckily, I had friends that took me in, until I found a full-time job working at a documentary company in the paradise land of Malibu. The job itself wasn’t the creative outlet I was hoping for but it was a shoe-in with a small company that I felt would expose and teach me a lot about an industry that I knew I had much more to learn about. The company focused on television documentaries that at the time were rapidly turning into some form of a “Reality TV.” My motivations slowly dissipated, not in the company but rather what we were chasing after. I couldn’t have been less interested in the Kardashians, the Housewives club, the Bachelorette or American Idol. No doubt they were very big hit shows that had a wealth of people watching each season but I simply had no desire for any of it. Exhausted by the unfulfilling work, I gave my notice after two years and set off to do something else. At this point the only certainty I had was that I was not going to continue to expel all of my energy into work that I felt no fervor for.

Unsure of where to go from there, I figured I’d go back to the basics and just try to connect with other young filmmakers. On a whim, I went to volunteer at the San Diego Arts and Media Center, where I met an instructor who thought I might be a good fit to help out with some of the Outreach Programs they had going on there – and man was she right, I absolutely loved it. I spent the next year working with students from 7-18 years old, making short journalistic style videos and it all brought me back to the reason I fell in love with film in the first place, the journey of exploration.

Within that same year, I slowly circled back to the Boston area with the incentive of being closer to my family. At the point, I knew I wanted to look into working in academia and maybe even go back to graduate school. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity for a position at Boston University’s College of Communication, where I eventually began to explore other graduate programs. But it wasn’t until my development with “The Oyster Revival” documentary that I became more certain about what I wanted to do with my passion for film.

I wanted to take part in helping to reconnect and educate the public more about the health of our environment. All of the news and media we are constantly bombarded by doesn’t always provide us with solutions. It all just seems unhopeful and overwhelming. I had enough hearing about the problems, I wanted to hear solutions. Then one day I came across an article about the Massachusetts Oyster Project and the oyster reef restoration projects that they were establishing around the Boston area. I reached out immediately wanting to get involved and as I continued to learn more about all the other oyster projects going on around the country’s shorelines, I found a story that I wanted to help bring to a forum.

These oyster restoration projects are living proof that we can symbiotically work with nature to help balance it again and that each of us can take part in it. Oyster shells are being recycled from local restaurants and donated to these various oyster projects that are helping to repopulate oysters and create sustainable reefs that function very similarly to coral reefs. Not only do oyster reefs support and help initiate more marine life, oysters are powerhouses when it comes to filtering water. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. Multiply that by a few million oysters, than you have millions of gallons of water getting filtered on a daily basis. Seems like a no brainer, right? Well, what we found was that these various projects were still lacking overall support from local regulators. Who did not want to put shellfish in unhealthy waters with the fear that local residents would eat the oysters. However there is already sea life living in those unhealthy waterways that people could also very easily eat from and so why not let the oysters thrive so they could assist in cleaning the water. Putting a “No Shellfishing or Fishing” sign up is also another idea but for some regulators that just wasn’t enough. Regardless, the incentives behind these oyster projects have continued to spread and gain more acceptance and support among local communities all across the country. But we can’t just stop with oysters.

A main motivating factor behind my developing “The Oyster Revival” and applying to the Gastronomy program was that I wanted to continue to inspire the thinking, “If oysters can do that, then what else can nature do and how can I be a part of it?”

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.