It’s that time of year again, time for new Gastronomy students! Joining the program this coming January, each new student is asked to submit a picture of themselves, a short bio, and what they love most about food. Keep reading to see the newest group of Gastronomy grads.
Mary Chapman: Mary grew up on the coast of Maine surrounded by Whoopie Pies, Italian sandwiches, and lots of lobster. Always an enthusiastic eater, she discovered a passion for wine while waitressing her way through her B.A. in History at Drew University. Upon graduation, she leapt at the opportunity of a marketing internship with a small organic winery and vineyard in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. She quickly realized that just selling wine wouldn’t be enough, she needed to make it. In a whirlwind 2 years, Mary worked as a harvest intern for 3 of California’s most prestigious wine producers.
When a more stable lifestyle beckoned, she took a sales position working for a high end cheese distributor and got to spend 8 hours a day chatting cheese with America’s foremost chefs and cheese professionals. In the fall of 2012, Mary returned to the East Coast to be closer to family and while searching for a way to continue her food career, discovered the Gastronomy program. She is looking forward to building an academic backbone for her experience to stand on and one day achieve her goal of running her own small food business.
John Fladd: My name is John Fladd. I am 49 years old. I am a father, husband, teacher and writer.My original degree was in Medieval History, so in consequence, my life has been otherwise almost completely disconnected from Medieval History in every way. I have a background in restaurant work, writing (I was the New Hampshire Press Association’s Columnist of the Year, two years running) and teaching. I have been beaten up by an angry, machete-wielding mob of Kikuyu in Kenya and am the inventor of the world’s best breakfast sandwich. My recent mid-life crisis purchase was a liquid nitrogen dewar for making experimental ice creams.
Byron Kidd: Byron was born in the Hartford, Connecticut area a while ago. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2006, because it allowed him to think about the world, how it worked, and all from a broader view. Although he had no idea where this would take him next, it wasn’t about where he ended, but the experiences and people he took along the way. There was always one constant in life: food definitely made the experience better.
He spent a couple of years making a living behind a bar, sending him into social work soon thereafter. He currently works for the town of South Windsor, Connecticut in Adult and Elderly Services. The department runs a food bank, cares for the welfare of the town’s seniors, and implements government assistance programs for those in need.
Byron enjoys every aspect of food, anything distilled, and the belief that everyone deserves a decent meal on their plate at the end of the day. He is ready to combine all of the experiences he’s gained along the way, with a passion for the culinary world, in Boston University’s Gastronomy program.
Hannah Reff: Hannah grew up in the sunny suburbs of Los Angeles, where her father is a professional foodie, her mother is a vegan, and Hannah has always been a “good eater”, according to grandma. Sometime around high school, Hannah realized that her family was in the minority by composting and buying local, and maybe that is what set her down the path of gastronomical scholarship. She rode her bike everywhere and rolled burritos while attending UC Davis for undergrad, a school known for its agricultural and “green” programs.
Transplanted to Boston for day job reasons, Hannah now keeps bees, brews beer, and coos over other people’s dogs. She’s learning to grow houseplants and where to get the best seafood, and she’s looking forward to learning even more about agriculture and foodscapes in the Gastronomy program.
Jane Sayers: Born in New Zealand, Jane was raised on a diet of lamb and dairy products, but time spent living in Asia, Europe and now the US has widened her food experience. These days she commutes from Providence where she lives with her husband Pradeep and four year old daughter Himani.
Becoming a vegetarian (her husband is a Hindu whose family has been vegetarian for generations) and having a child have moved food from an enthusiasm to an obsession, and she is increasingly interested in why we eat what we eat, and how to eat wisely and well.
Moving to the US in 2012 without a work visa has given her the perfect opportunity to abandon a career in professional services marketing and instead focus on cooking, eating, thinking about food, reading about food and writing about food.
Lucy R. Valena: Lucy became fascinated with food studies as a teenager in New Hampshire. She is pretty sure she had the same copy of “Edible Nuts of the World” checked out from the library for the better part of three years, and she still boasts about the time she got her mom to drive her to the Schlesinger Library for a Culinary Historians of Boston meeting when she was sixteen.
She graduated from Hampshire College in 2007 with a degree in studio art. After a brief but very important summer in Seattle, she moved to Boston inspired to open a coffeehouse like the ones she had seen out West. In 2010 she founded Voltage Coffee & Art, a coffeehouse and gallery in Kendall Square, which she still owns and runs with her amazing and talented staff.
When she’s not brewing coffee or doing paperwork, Valena enjoys cooking delicious meals, sewing, shaking cocktails, and poring over botanical illustrations. She is thrilled to become a part of the Gastronomy program and hopes to gain a deeper and more holistic understanding of the food system at large.
Come back soon to see the rest of our new Gastronomy graduate students!