by Emily Contois
When I asked Vivian Liberman when she first became interested in food, she exclaimed, “Always!” Liberman grew up in Colombia and loved going food shopping as a child with her mother. “Two things were my job,” she says, “to pick out the fruit and to shuck the peas.” She followed her love of food to culinary school, but at the behest of her mother also pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees in Hospitality Management. She has worked in restaurants, hotels, and spas across the United States, but she credits her studies in gastronomy for showing her food in a different light.
Liberman began the Gastronomy program in 2004, focusing her research broadly, but linked by the common thread of nutrition. She endorses a more practical approach to nutrition education, contending that teaching nutrition through culinary application is a more effective and realistic approach. In pondering her coursework at BU, Dr. Thomas Glick’s Readings in Food History course had a lasting effect on Liberman. “He taught me how to write and inspired me to continue the work that became my thesis,” she recalls. For her thesis, she researched the evolution of food advertising mascots, analyzing a variety of factors, such as social class, gender, and economics, shedding new light on the psychology of nutrition and consumer behavior.
Upon completing her MLA in Gastronomy, Liberman worked at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami for five and a half years. She currently works as the Training Manager at the Hotel Sofitel Cartagena Santa Clara in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Her current research explores public perception of molecular gastronomy and is authoring an entry for an encyclopedia on the topic and co-authoring a book chapter on food studies and foodservice with Jonathan Deutsch, Associate Professor, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York.
When pondering the influence of the Gastronomy program on her career, Liberman says, “The program really opened things up for me and gave me a more well-rounded view point. It made me a writer, taught me how to read, and to think from a different perspective. It changed my entire outlook on the food world. I am more than a cook now. The Gastronomy program has changed my life. It’s really made it better.”
Emily is a current gastronomy student and graduate assistant, editing the Gastronomy at BU blog, January-August, 2012. Check out her research in food studies, nutrition, and public health on her blog, emilycontois.com.