Category Archives: socializing

Welcome to the Program, Shall We Start in the Kitchen?


Photo by Chris Maggiolo

By Sarah McKeen

Maybe it was the wine or the fact that Boston decided to bless us with a rare evening above freezing. Regardless, the warmth was felt all around on the evening of January 13. Orientation for all incoming Gastronomy students began at 5 pm with an introduction by Professor Rachel Black who promised to keep the “boring” information to a minimum. She spoke for about an hour on BU basics and housekeeping matters, as well as provided a brief overview of some of the offerings of the Gastronomy program, which included classes, outside lectures, social gatherings, and volunteer opportunities. Needless to say, no one was “bored” with the forthcoming excitement of being a part of this quest for food knowledge. We were, however, all eager to get into the kitchen to make a delicious meal.






Photos by Chris Maggiolo

Led by a team of current students, us newbies were divided into groups to prepare various components of the meal. The three groups consisted of a kale pesto and sausage pasta team; an arugula, blood orange, and avocado salad team; and a chocolate-dipped coconut macaroon team. We all donned our aprons, rolled up our sleeves, and dug our hands into fresh ingredients to prepare the feast. The various aromas coming from each corner of the kitchen mingled in the air above as the new students got to know each other. About one hour later, the salad was piled high atop a fanning bed of avocado, the pasta was steaming in a bowl fit for an army, and the macaroons were perfectly coated with shiny chocolate.

Photo by Chris Maggiolo

Photo by Chris Maggiolo

We all came together at a long table in the kitchen classroom, set with wine and sparkling water. Plates were filled with the scrumptious offerings as students continued to share their stories of how they came to join the Gastronomy program. Joined by not only Rachel Black, but also Netta Davis, Barbara Rotger, and many current students, the new students delighted in hearing about classes, research projects, and personal stories. As conversations shifted from hometown to current jobs, the wine slowly depleted and belts grew a little tighter. Professor Black led us in a toast to the successful meal and the excitement of our future successes in and outside of the classroom. The evening meandered to a close and the students parted ways with both their minds and stomachs excited for what the next two years have to offer.

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

Photo by Chris Maggiolo

Photo by Chris Maggiolo


BU Gastronomy Joins Instagram

Well, we’ve gone and done it. First it was Facebook, then Twitter, and now we’ve joined the ranks of millions and signed up for an Instagram account to share all the food related photos we take throughout the year. We hope to include visuals from things like Gastronomy events, guest speaker seminars, get togethers, field trips, and, of course, all the wonderful snacks our students share in class. Follow along and be sure to share your own BU food adventures with us by tagging our instagram handle bugastronomy or using the hashtag #bugastronomy.

Here’s our first instagram!:


While we work on uploading all the deets and eats that go on in the program, check out a few of the following instagrammers and their own food-filled feeds:
handle: alxgrossmn
aka: Alex Grossman, Creative Director at Bon Appetit

handle: kingarthurflour
aka: King Arthur Flour, Vermont Flour Mill

handle: julieskitchen
aka: Julie Lee, Food Photographer in LA

handle: idafrosk
aka: Ida Skivenes, food artist and photographer in Oslo, Norway

handle: thefauxmartha
aka: Melissa Coleman, blogger and baker

handle: testkitchen
aka: America’s Test Kitchen, Brookline, Mass.

handle: talkingfood
aka: Talking Food, food with personality

And, of course, this list just wouldn’t be complete without a few local BU Instagrammers:

handle: hungry_terrier
aka: The Hungry Terrier, Boston University’s Food Channel

handle: bufoodandwine
aka: BU Food and Wine, our building neighbors and culinary cohorts

We hope to see you all on instagram and be sure to let us know if you have an account we should follow!

BU Gastronomy Garden Club: 2013 Spring Work Day!

By Nora Conroy

Depending on the source you consult, the average last frost date in Boston is anywhere from April 20th to May 5th. This date is an important guideline for avid gardeners, but the real indicators are only found in day-to-day weather trends. After a long, cold winter, the first legitimate days of spring seemed to finally arrive mid-April. Sensing that the threat of snow had mercifully past, the BU Gastronomy Garden Club rallied to organize our first workday coinciding with the Fenway Victory Gardens (FVG) annual Spring Meeting. The plan was to attend the meeting then proceed to the garden plot and tackle a few spring projects in preparation for planting.

The FVG meeting was held at the MassArt Tower, and was preceded by a coffee and pastry social (catered by an FVG member owned business). During the two-hour meeting, many questions and concerns were voiced, some of which related to safety issues in the FVG. Bruno Rubio, the FVG VP of Safety (also a BU Chemistry lecturer), provided details about his dialogue with Boston police, relaying the message that police presence will only increase if crime is more consistently reported. While I havenʼt personally encountered any crime during the past year working at the garden, FVG is located in a highly traffic part of Boston, and care must to taken especially around dusk or dawn.

The VP of Communication and Social Media, Mario DʼAmato, recognized the unique partnership that has formed between the BU Gastronomy Program and FVG in organizing events (like movie screenings) and generally spreading the word about FVG. Mario also mentioned plans for a new, updated FVG website that will be compatible with smart phones and other mobile devices. In addition to general FVG info, the new website will be used to promote The Legacy Project, which is a media compilation that celebrates the FVG’s 71 years in service, and will include interviews with gardeners, some of whom have been members for decades.

photo by Nora Conroy

photos by Nora Conroy

After an eventful meeting, fellow Gastronomy Garden Club members and I trekked behind the MFA and through the Fens to our plot at FVG. Such a beautiful day needed to be savored, so we took a few minutes to sit and chat. Joking about how the Gastronomy Gardeners often like to talk more than do, we eventually decided to get some work done! The first order of business was retrieving salvaged wooden pallets (courtesy of Taza Chocolate) that will be re-appropriated as planting containers. After a short panini break, we were back to work repairing the fencing around the gate, eager to use our newly purchased wire cutters and zip ties.

image_1When we turned our attention to cultivation, it seemed our mulching and weeding late last fall had paid off. We cleared some weeds and fall leaves, but in general the plot was weed free and in good shape. We ended our leisurely work day around 5pm, already planning our next moves. The spring task list is always long, but it’s balanced by the excitement of a new growing season: once the soil is prepared we’ll begin direct seeding hardy vegetables and eventually transplanting seedlings. Stay tuned for more garden updates throughout the season. To learn more about the BU Gastronomy Garden Club, look us up on Facebook. Happy planting!


Nora Conroy is a recent BU graduate and employee in the BU CAS Computer Science Department as the Staff Coordinator. Her interest in food sustainability and food policy issues led her to discover the BU Gastronomy Garden Club. Nora is currently considering the BU Gastronomy MLA Program for future studies. 

Gastronomy Student Association Gets Cracking with a New England Clambake

by Rob Haley

The message was clear when we sat down at the long table protected by sheets of brown paper tablecloth – this meal was going to get messy. On Thursday, January 31st, Boston University’s Gastronomy Student Association (GSA) marked the beginning of a new semester by visiting Jasper White’s Summer Shack in downtown Boston. Our mission was to take part in their version of the traditional New England clambake. For those born and raised in the region the menu seemed familiar, but for many this was a chance to experience for the first time one of the Commonwealth’s most revered gastronomic celebrations. While the restaurant interior could not entirely replicate the experience of an ocean beach bake during the dog days of summer, the food that was shared by the fifteen students in attendance did not disappoint.

photo by Rob Haley

photo by Rob Haley

The dinner began with a couple pitchers of PBR along with two bottles of white wine, followed quickly by a choice between Bermuda Fish and Crab Chowder or the Boston Clam Chowder. Lobster crackers and bibs were handed out to the party: a sure sign that we would have to earn this evening’s meal. As soon as the soup bowls were cleared, platters of steamed lobsters and snow crab legs drew the attention of our hungry crowd. This was accompanied by the obligatory corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, and cole slaw. Corn bread was delivered to take up the few empty spots on an already crowded table, and we were left to fill our own plates with the generous feast.

Seasoned veterans were quick to demonstrate to the rookies the process of cracking crustacean shells to ensure the maximum yield of sweet morsels locked inside. Technique is truly an art form when holstering the cracker, and the willingness to dive right in with both hands is also essential with a lobster bake. Arms, legs, tails, and torso were twisted and torn with large chunks of salt-steamed meat as the reward. Forks and picks were used like a mad surgeon’s tool to ensure no scrap was wasted. Empty shells piled up in the large community waste buckets, and everyone was satisfied with the work they had done to claim their undersea cuisine.

photo by Rob Haley

photo by Rob Haley

By the end of the meal, with serving plates empty and stomachs full, the GSA celebrated another successful group outing. The gathering also marked the passing of the torch, as recent MLA Gastronomy graduate Natalie Shmulik turned her GSA Presidency over to Elizabeth Bada, a current Gastronomy student. Appropriately initiated, Liz will no doubt lead the association towards more great events and nights such as this during the 2013 school year. With a bit of luck, this may just include a summer seaside clambake somewhere along the Massachusetts coastline.

Rob Haley is in his last semester (hopefully) pursuing his MLA in Gastronomy. He is also the Senior Media Producer at the Office of Distance Education at Boston University. He can be reached at, or you might find him at your favorite neighborhood watering hole.

For more information on the Gastronomy Student Association, visit or email

A Propitious Beginning at the Dinner Table

by Amanda Balagur

Do you remember the feeling when you first arrived at college for undergrad?  You had probably just spent your high school career working towards the goal of attending that institution, and you were probably pretty excited – likely a bit nervous – when you walked into your first class and sat down with your new classmates.

photo by Chris Maggiolo

photo by Chris Maggiolo

Well, it’s one thing when you’re a teenager, but for a thirty-something (or even twenty-something) adult, the experience can be just as nerve-racking. Imagine you just picked up and left the life you had – a successful career, a city you knew well and loved, friends, community, your “deep bench” – to pursue a Masters degree in Gastronomy, your passion and something many people have never even heard of (“Did you say Astronomy?”, “Oh! You mean cooking school?”, “Don’t you have to go to medical school to do that?!?”). It’s daunting to walk into a room full of strangers for an orientation; you may as well have a sign on your back that says, “I’m a beginner! Please be gentle.”  But you quickly realize everyone else is in the same boat, and you start to relax.

As we settled in and began chatting, I realized I wasn’t the only student who relocated a fair distance to attend the MLA in Gastronomy program; one student moved here from California, another from Dubai… Seventeen of us are embarking on this journey together (including one Food Studies Certificate student), each with a unique story about how we got here (check out our bios).

The formal orientation began with an introduction by Dr. Rachel Black, Assistant Professor and Academic Coordinator of the Gastronomy program.  Recent graduate Natalie Shmulik spoke about the Gastronomy Student Association, a group of students who put together events and lectures each semester, and encouraged us to get involved.  Dr. Black followed up with a brief overview of the Gastronomy program, and recommendations for achieving success and getting the most out of our time here in Boston.

photo by Chris Maggiolo

photo by Chris Maggiolo

Meanwhile, Blair Newhard was prepping in the kitchen with assistants Audrey Reid, Rob Haley, and Gab Korakot, all current students in the program and graduates of the culinary arts lab.  The new students were divided into four teams, each tasked with a recipe selected by Blair. We set about chopping, stirring and cooking, our uneasiness replaced with an immediate sense of community and common interest.


photo by Chris Maggiolo

photo by Chris Maggiolo

When the meal was ready, we dined at one long table on Citrus, Fennel and Avocado Salad, Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale Pesto, and Sweet Potato Dirtbombs (likened by one diner to delectably rich donut holes). Toasts were made to celebrate the start of a new semester and a new class of Gastronomy students, and conversation flowed as freely as the wine.  Up and down the table, students and professors chatted about classes, books, lectures, and what brought us to the program.  It was inspiring to finally meet my fellow students, and talk about the opportunities that lay ahead of us.  The phantom sign on my back had disappeared, and I was left anticipating an exciting semester and incredible academic experience.



Special thanks to those who made this wonderful orientation event possible: Dr. Rachel Black, Blaire Newhard and her kitchen assistants, and Program Coordinator Barbara Rotger.

Amanda Balagur is a first year Gastronomy MLA student and creator of the Twin Cities-based local food podcast, Localicious.

BU Gastronomy Garden Club Sees Prosperous Produce Progress

Post and photos by Aubree DuPlessis

It may be the dog days of summer, but that hasn’t stopped the BU Gastronomy Garden Club from clearing, constructing, and creating their very first garden plot at Fenway Victory Gardens. Equipped with a generous donation from Mahoney’s Garden Center, appearances by summer’s most valuable culinary players – watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumbers – are helping students momentarily forget the heat with daydreams of refreshing granita, cooling gazpacho, and muddled mojitos.

A ‘Garden Cucumber’ variety perfect for summer salads. Not pictured, but almost ready for harvest are ‘Lemon Cucumbers,’ whose subtle sweetness is perfect for pickling.

Gastronomy student Mayling Chung (2013) tends to the watermelon patch.

In just a few more weeks, these ‘Standard Globe Celebrity’ tomatoes will be the ideal summertime snack accompanied by fresh mozzarella and basil, of course.

In just five months, students started seedlings in BU’s Greenhouse, built raised beds from scavenged bricks and stones, and successfully transplanted a variety of salad greens, peppers, beans, and squash into their garden plot. Although primarily focused on vegetable production, students also hope to plant a sensory herb and flower garden, as well as create a seating area for picnics, studying, and relaxation.

Using mostly bricks, students have built four raised beds. With a focus on sustainability, students hope to use as many salvaged and re-usable materials as possible.

If you’d like more information on the BU Gastronomy Garden Club or want to help weed, water, and reap some tasty rewards, please contact Aubree DuPlessis.

Save the Date: End of the Semester/Graduation Celebration

As some of us stress to finish our papers and study for final exams, others of us are counting down the days to life after Gastronomy.

Please join us to celebrate both the end of the semester and the largest graduating class (thus far!) from the Boston University Gastronomy program.


Who: Current and graduating Gastronomy students, alumni, and faculty
When: Friday, May 11, 6:00-8:00 pm
Where: 808 Commonwealth Ave, Demonstration Room (117)
What: Cake and drinks

Feel free to bring a potluck appetizer, but don’t worry, this is optional. Bringing yourself is most important.