Garden Time: It’s Spring!

IMG_81143551818378by Kimi Ceridon

Just when it seemed winter wasn’t going to give up without a fight, the thermometer finally bounced above the freezing mark.  After a few false starts, it looks like it is going to finally stay there too.  The days are getting longer and the sun is reaching higher in the sky.  As if I needed another sign that spring has arrived, my yard is finally littered with white, purple and yellow crocuses. That means it is time to start thinking about the garden.  Actually, I started thinking about starting my garden since ordering my seeds back in January, but it’s time to put those seeds to use.

I used to wait until the May rush and buy all my seedlings from the garden store. However, I’ve been seduced by the January seed catalogs into starting my own plants from seeds.  They offer not only an irresistible tug of springtime hope in the middle of winter, but also so many more varieties of plants.  Just try to find 71 varieties of tomatoes or 22 varieties of pumpkins or multiple varieties of most crops in your local garden store or home improvement mega box.  You can’t, it isn’t cost effective to carry more than a few ‘favorite’ varieties.  IMG_81260204578379

I start my garden from seeds in soil blocks using full spectrum lightbulbs in my basement.  To take advantage of the short growing season here in New England, now is the time to get started.  Don’t let my set up intimidate you, it has evolved over several years of trial and error.  All you need is a sunny window, a few small pots, some soilless seed starting mix and a few choice seeds.  All of which can be had at your neighborhood hardware and garden store.  Some grocery stores even care basic supplies.  

904229_10200868736497540_324741037_oStarting plants from seed can seem kind of intimidating.  Admittedly, it doesn’t always go well.  Sometimes you forget to water them and they dry out.  Sometimes they don’t get a good start and end up spindly and weak.  Yet, sometimes they work wonderfully and produce beautiful robust plants.  This is part of the fun of planting a garden.  It is also why so many gardeners exhibit calmness and patience; two traits I am personally trying to cultivate from my garden.  For many years, I would start a few of the more interesting crops from seed with plans to purchase some plants from the garden store.  This way, if things didn’t work out with my seeds, I had a backup plan.  Besides, if you start early enough, you will know what is going well and what is not before the garden stores start stocking vegetable plants.  

IMG_81156379977378As I know many of you don’t have a lot of space, I also want to dispel the myth that you need a big backyard to get started.  A sunny balcony, stoop, windowsill or countertop is enough for growing a few container plants to bring a few fresh vegetables or herbs into your kitchen.  It is also a great opportunity to learn without a big investment.  For example, loose leaf salad greens are easy to grow from seed, easy to care for and will make it to a dinner plate in just a few weeks.  Fresh potted herbs are also the gift that keeps on giving.  If you keep a few shallow pots of salad greens in rotation, you can keep yourself in weekly greens throughout the year.

IMG_81104059567378There is such an amazing world of flavor hidden in a seed catalog, I suggest trying something new, something you won’t find in the grocery store or even in your farmer’s market. Without starting from seeds, I would have never tasted the meaty and creamy Good Mother Stallard dried beans or the sweet and tangy Lemon Cucumber or the sweetly tart Black Krim Tomato.  Sure, it may not feel like spring quite outside yet, but you can start getting into a springtime mood by getting your hands into some dirt.  My seeds have just started breaking ground.  

After 15 years in sustainable product design, Kimi Ceridon shifted focus from consumer products to food systems. Food is the most tangible, accessible way for individuals to reduce their impact on the planet and make a statement against an unsustainable industrial food system. She is active with NOFA/Mass Boston Ferments, Waltham Fields Community Farms and has led workshops on chicken keeping, backyard homesteading, fermentation, and brewing.  Follow her at

Exploring The Culinary Arts Certificate Program – And Why You Should Take It

Jacques Pepin instructs students how to

Jacques Pepin instructs students how to debone a chicken.

by Audrey Reid

The Culinary Arts Certificate Program at Boston University is one of a kind. It was founded by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin in 1989 when Pepin suggested turning their highly successful cooking seminars into a full semester course. The program was designed around French cuisine and technique but also highlights other ethnic dishes and cooking styles. The intent was not necessarily to produce chefs – although graduates have certainly pursued that goal – but to teach those interested in food how to cook. 

A class of 8-12 students has been held every semester since its beginning, and Pepin still makes guest appearances to teach. There are a few core instructors but the majority of classes are taught by a rotation of Boston’s best chefs (think diversity but also networking). The program also takes field trips to stage in local kitchens, visit producers, and work with other food professionals like writers and photographers. Additionally, students are exposed to cooking in volume by hosting large events for the Seminars in Food, Wine & the Arts. Upon graduation, students are very well rounded in cuisines, techniques, methodology, and Boston food culture.


Culinary students preparing birthday cakes for Julia Child’s 100th birthday celebration.

Whether students want to go into the kitchen, use their knowledge to support other academic work, or just want to make dinner for friends and family, the Culinary Arts Certificate Program is worth every minute. 

If you aren’t convinced that you need to take this class, perhaps Katherine Shae and Tianyu (Cici) Ji can persuade you. Katherine and Cici are MLA Gastronomy students currently taking the Culinary Arts Program and were interviewed about their experience (and love for!) the class.

Interview with Katherine Shea, expected graduation in May 2014

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself.
  • I’m from West Hartford, CT. Most of my jobs previous to working in the food industry were related to teaching (both of my parents were teachers). I did a sustainable agriculture program in Italy for the last semester of my bachelors at UCONN and that is what prompted me to apply for the gastronomy program. Since the switch to gastronomy/food industry I’ve worked at a restaurant (Front of House) in Cape Cod, Whole Foods (Specialty), Allandale Farm and a couple other farms in Maine for the summer.
  • How far along in the program are you and what do you plan to do after graduation?
  • This is my last semester in the program and I am not entirely sure what I want to do with the degree but I would love to be in the field of Agriculture (perhaps policy).
  • Why did you chose to take the culinary arts certificate class? 
  • It is definitely the best class I’ve taken in the program. I chose to take it because I went to a Jacques Pepin lecture last year with my class and a fellow Gastronomy student asked Jacques what advice he has for people going into the field. His response was to start with learning how to cook. He explained how anything related to food: food writing, policy, business, all stems from the basics of cooking. Recently, our class had the pleasure of having Sheryl Julian visit and she reiterated that same notion. She explained that her training in Culinary allows her to understand exactly what it takes to make a dish that she is critiquing.
  • What do you hope to do with your culinary training?
  • I know that I won’t work in a professional kitchen after the program, but I am sure that the skills I’ve learned will be useful in my life and future career.
  • Would you recommend the class and why?
  • Until the Culinary program, I had no idea how much was behind just cooking. The technique and skill involved is amazing, and learning from the best chefs in Boston is an incredible experience. I think everyone in the Gastronomy program could benefit from trying the culinary program. I strongly urge Gastronomy students to take the culinary class, you will learn a ton, have fun, and make great connections in Boston!
Katherine and Cici hard at work.

Katherine and Cici hard at work.

Interview with Tianyu (Cici) Ji, expected graduation in December 2014

  • Where are you from? 
  • Beijing, China
  • Why did you choose the Gastronomy Program?
  • The Gastronomy program is a good combination of academic and hands-on experience.
  • What do you plan to do after graduation?
  • I would like to have a restaurant after studying in major food countries.
  • Why did you chose to take the culinary arts certificate class?
  • The culinary arts program is a one-of-a-kind experience in the world. Our instructors are from the business in Boston, and what they do are not only about techniques, but also good attitudes of persons in the industry. I learned a great deal from each and every one of them.
  • What do you enjoy about the culinary arts program?
  • The intensive program is well designed. There is one field trip almost every week plus special events in the semester. The chefs/instructors are helpful in the kitchen. I got the chance to stage in some of the best kitchens in Boston. This experience is so unique.
  • What has been your favorite dish to learn to cook?
  • I can’t really name a favorite dish, because they are all so fantastic. Cooking is not difficult, but it takes practice to make the good food right.
  • What has been the hardest part about the class?
  • Remembering the dishes in a short time. Learn to cook efficiently with recipes. Take notes.
      • Would you recommend the class, and why?
      • There is no better way to learn about food except for cooking it and tasting it. The culinary arts program allows me to think of food in a classic perspective and that is always important before going deeper about the gastronomic aspects. After all, food is for people to enjoy. I would be a great loss were I not in the culinary arts program.


        Foie gras with figs and port.

For more information about the Culinary Arts Certificate Program, you can visit their webpage at, email, or call 617-353-9852.

Audrey Reid is president of the Gastronomy Students Association, manager of the Gastronomy at BU blog, and in her final semester of the Gastronomy Program. She has a BS in Chemistry, is a graduate of the Culinary Arts Program, and is earning her MLA with a concentration in Food Policy.

Student Spotlight: Lucy Valena – Inspired. Totally Wired.

Ever wonder what being a Gastronomy student is like? Unfortunately there is no easy answer, we all approach it a little differently. Some of us are full time students, but most are part time; some work as interns, while others maintain full time careers; many students are from far away, but some are Massachusetts natives – simply, our backgrounds are as diverse as the foods we study. In an on going mini-series, we will hopefully give you an idea of who some of our students are and just how unique this program is to bring us all together.

DSCF9170-2by Sarah McKeen

Lucy Valena is the lucky first Gastronomy Student Spotlight. Most know her as the owner of Voltage Coffee & Art in Kendall Square, but this first semester Gastronomy student is much more than simply a coffee connoisseur with a penchant for great art.

Lucy grew up on an old farm in Durham, NH with her folk artist father, museum curator mother, and little sister. The natural progression from this upbringing was a life of art, which she pursued through a BA in Studio Art from Hampshire College in Western Massachusetts. After graduation and a brief stint in Seattle, Lucy made the trek back to Boston with a renewed appreciation for high-quality coffee. With a lot of hard work, plenty of caffeine, talented friends, and some self-admitted luck, Lucy opened Voltage Coffee in 2008. It first started out as an espresso catering service in Jamaica Plain, which eventually evolved into a full-blown cafe, Voltage Coffee & Art, by 2010. As the owner, barista, and dishwasher, Lucy has created a haven for the caffeine-deprived artist in all of us. One can find her between Monday and Saturday behind the bar, in the vibrantly-painted kitchen, or holed away in her closet-sized office. 082

This past January, Lucy decided to up her culinary prowess by joining the Gastronomy Master’s program at BU where she is focusing on history and culture. Finding time to devote herself to academics while owning and operating a cafe is sometimes challenging, but Lucy maintains that the part-time, night classes of the program make it manageable. 

While every day is different, a typical day in the life of the student, cafe owner, and Jamaica Plain resident is as follows:

Wake up.

7am to 3pm:
Work behind the counter at Voltage (make coffee, wash dishes, take orders, and have silly conversations with the staff).

3 to 5pm:
Either in her tiny office doing bookkeeping stuff or at a meeting.

6 to 8pm:
Homework time! If her brain is too overloaded from the day, she tries to work on some art instead.

Boyfriend, John, and Lucy start shaking cocktails and cooking dinner. While cooking, they typically blast the B52′s and play with their kitten, Tiny Henry. They either eat by candlelight (how romantic!) or watch something on their projector. This winter they have been especially into the X-Files, but they also have an ongoing goal to watch the entire AFI 100 list… Someday!

IMG_1535As the first Student Spotlight, Lucy shows that with a bit of caffeine and a lot of passion, one can find a balance between a career and graduate school. Next time you find yourself in Kendall Square, make sure to check out Voltage Coffee & Art and say hello to the owner/student behind the bar.

Sarah McKeen is a Boston native who has studied Gastronomy at BU since 2014. Her focus is on entrepreneurship, technology, and culinary tourism.

The Gastronomy Student Association Cookbook is here!

Screen shot 2014-04-03 at 11.10.13 AMThe first ever Gastronomy Student Cookbook is now available! With 49 student, alumni, faculty, and staff contributing nearly 100 recipes, the cookbook is a great representation of our program’s love for all things food.

The cookbook is a fantastic way for students, alumni, and instructors to remember their time in the program and all the wonderful people they have met. Personally, I plan on using it as a sort of yearbook by collecting signatures and pictures of friends to reminisce on. Cheesy, sure, but this program, and the people in it, have had such a huge influence on my life, I don’t want to forget a thing.

Perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, Graduation, and sharing with family and friends, cookbooks are only $10 (plus $4 s/h, if required). You can purchase them from any current or newly elected executive committee member, at any GSA event or Gastronomy@BU Lecture Series, or by contacting and arranging for pick-up or shipping.

Select recipes include:
Blue Cheese Savories by Barbara Rotger, Staff and Alumna, class of ’11
Fermented Kimchi by Kimi Ceridon, Current Student
Minestra di Fagioli by Carole Counihan, Instructor
Mediterranean Shrimp by Kari Pierce, Current Student
Chocolate Brownies by Stephanie Hersh, First Program Graduate, class of ’97

I hope everyone takes advantage of this fabulous cookbook and enjoys the amazing recipes submitted by members of our very own Gastronomy Program.

Happy Cooking!

Audrey Reid
GSA President
2014 MLA Candidate

Congratulations, Bill Nesto!

I am happy to announce the Programs in Food, Wine & the Art’s very own Bill Nesto has won an André Simon Food and Drink Book Award! Nesto and his co-author Frances Di Savino were granted the 2013 prize in the drink category for their book The World of Sicilian Wine.

The André Simon Food and Drink book awards are granted by the Trustees of the André Simon Memorial Fund, which has honored gastronomic literature since its founding in 1965. Other prizes include the 2013 prize in the food category, Special Commendation, and the John Avery Award. In addition, eight books are honored on the shortlist.

Bill Nesto is a certified Master of Wine and teaches Wine Studies at Boston University. You can visit his blog here.nesto

Announcing: the Graduate Journal of Food Studies

“As a community of food-studies scholars, we show that food and drink can be valuable lenses through which interdisciplinary questions can fruitfully explored, while at the same time being mindful that in seeing through food we don’t continue to ignore the medium itself as a mere means to other ends. The specificity of food matters. The Graduate Journal of Food Studies hopes to be a forum that furthers the study of food by giving voice to a nascent cohort of interested scholars and encouraging dialogue that transcends disciplinary boundaries.”
- Brad Jones (’14), Founding Editor-in-Chief

by Chris Maggiolo

Spearheaded by BU Gastronomy alumnus Brad Jones (’14), the Graduate Journal of Food Studies engages masters and doctoral students from around the world in the field’s first student-run and peer-edited academic journal. Seeking to tie together a growing and diverse student body, the journal exists as a space in which students may present independent research, offer book reviews, and otherwise connect with peers throughout the academic arena of food studies.

While at its core a student driven product, the Graduate Journal of Food Studies also includes a sizable and very respectable faculty advisory committee, listed below. World renowned scholars and educators aided the journal’s founding editors from start to finish. Without their support, this fantastic undertaking would not have been possible.

Faculty Advisory Board

Ken Albala (University of the Pacific)
Patricia Allen (Marylhurst)
Rachel Ankeny (Adelaide)
Warren Belasco (UMBC)
Amy Bentley (NYU)
Rachel Black (Boston University)
Melissa Caldwell (UCSC)
Simone Cinotto (UNISG)
Carole Counihan (Millersville University)
Lisa Heldke (Gustavus Adulphus)
Alice Julier (Chatham)
Jane Kauer (Penn)
Fabio Parasecoli (New School)
Heather Paxson (MIT)
Amy Trubek (UVM)
David Szanto (Concordia)
Harry West (SOAS)
Andrea Wiley (IU)

The efforts and contributions of former and current Boston University Gastronomy students also played a pivotal role in the journal’s premiere edition. The founding editorial board is comprised of many Boston University students. These students not only peer-reviewed submissions, but they also designed the layout, produced artwork, and created the journal’s website. Furthermore, the journal’s first issue features articles by Emily Contois (’13) and Miki Kawasaki (’14) as well as book reviews by Chris Maggiolo (’14) and Brad Jones (’14). Wine and Culture: Vineyard to Glass, by BU Gastronomy professor Rachel Black, was among the books reviewed in this edition.

In the upcoming months, the Graduate Journal of Food Studies will be accepting submissions for its second issue. Students working on food-related research projects are encouraged to apply. Please refer to the About section of the journal website for submission guidelines. If current students wish to participate in the journal’s production, the committee is currently seeking a new editorial staff. Please submit inquiries to


Chris Maggiolo (’14) is a recent alumni of the Boston University MLA in Gastronomy program and was a founding associate editor of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies. He currently works in the Boston Greater Area as a beverage industry and artisanal food consultant and as a freelance writer and photographer.