Category Archives: student association

Say Cheese!

Photo by Audrey Reid

Photo by Audrey Reid

By Marleena Eyre

On February 22, 2014, an uncharacteristically warm day, members of the BU Gastronomy Students Association spent the afternoon stretching cheese curds into velvety mozzarella and turning fresh milk into ricotta. Microbiologist Dr. Benjamin Wolfe, who is teaching Microbiology of Food for the BU Gastronomy Program this semester, hosted the GSA’s Cheese Making Workshop. With a passion for all things microbial, Dr. Wolfe obtained his B.Sc. from Cornell, his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s FAS Center for Systems Biology with Dr. Rachel Dutton.

Walking past modern offices lined with complex equations written on windows in Harvard’s Northwest Lab Building, Dr. Wolfe led us to the kitchen where we were greeted by large stainless steel pots and a slew of ingredients ready for cheese making. Before jumping into the cooking portion of the workshop, Dr. Wolfe gave a brief lecture on microbes and the fundamentals of cheese making.

Photo by Audrey Reid

Photo by Audrey Reid

The acidity which separates the casein micelles – proteins in milk that make it appear white – from the whey, also helps to bind the proteins together. This can be done with the addition of rennet or acids such as lemon, vinegar, or citric acid. From these curds, a plethora of delicious cheeses can be made. Though the excess whey is not used in the rest of the process, it can be saved and used as a nutritional additive to smoothies, used to keep a block of feta cheese fresh, or even used as a liquid replacement in baking.

After walking through the various steps to making fresh mozzarella, Dr. Wolfe sliced a 10-pound block of pressed cheese curds and placed the pieces into bowls of hot salted water to induce the stretching process. Mozzarella making is all about physics and using physical manipulation to produce the desired textural attributes known for comprising this well-known cheese.

Photo by Audrey Reid

Photo by Audrey Reid

The pulling motion of stretching mozzarella helps to align the casein micelles which are indiscriminately assembled when the cheese curds are produced. Within a few minutes, our hands turned the chunks of rigid cheese curds into silky strings ready for consumption; it was as if we were transported back to childhood and playing with silly putty.

Rounding out the workshop, we had the opportunity to peek inside the lab where Dr. Wolfe and his colleagues spend hours researching and testing thousands of microbial strains. Amongst the lab equipment was a makeshift cheese cave showcasing the fruits of their labor. One whiff of the temperature-controlled refrigerator, a zone of concentrated microbes, was not for the faint of heart; it is an acquired scent prized by cheese enthusiasts.

As gastronomy students, we couldn’t go home without sampling some of the cheese we had made. We gladly piled our plates with caprese salad and ricotta and honey slathered slices of bread. There was even enough for each of us to take some home to share with family and friends.

Photo by Audrey Reid

Photo by Audrey Reid

Photo by Audrey Reid

Photo by Audrey Reid

Making cheese at home can be a fun DIY project, and fresh cheeses are the easiest to start with. Ricotta and mozzarella are a couple great examples for novices to try. Ideally, cheese should start with raw milk, but in the United States it can be difficult to come by, especially in the state of Massachusetts. Fresh cheeses, like these, are somewhat more forgiving and can be made with purchased cheese curds or pasteurized milk – you’ll just want to make sure that you get the highest quality milk for the best results.

If you’re interested in learning more about cheese making and the science behind it, visit Dr. Wolfe’s website. He strongly suggests picking up a copy of Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen as well. Missed out on making cheese with the GSA? Check out their event page for future workshops, panels, and more!

Marleena Eyre is a second year Gastronomy student, an editorial intern at NoshOn.It, and blogs at The Flex Foodie. When she’s not studying or writing about food, she can be found paging through cookbooks at her local bookstores or breaking the ice on the Charles River with her rowing team. IMG_8079

TEDxManhattan Viewing Party

Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 4.16.31 PMTED talks have taken the world by storm as they bring together professionals and amateurs alike, to talk about big ideas.

This Saturday, March 1, 2014, the Gastronomy Students Association would like to invite you to a viewing party of TEDxManhattan’s: Changing the Way We Eat. They will be streaming the conference live and would love for you to join the conversation about our changing food world.

For details about the viewing party, check out the Events Page.
For more information about TEDxManhattan and the conference, you can visit their website at

Career Advice on Food Writing and Culinary Tourism

by Carlos Olaechea

There’s no doubt that Gastronomy students have a passion for food, but sometimes it helps to have some professional insight into how we can turn that passion into a career.  With many of our peers taking advantage of Boston Globe dining editor Sheryl Julian’s food writing class, and increased interest in visiting places for their food and beverages as much as their sights, a career in food writing and culinary tourism is on the minds of many students.  On Thursday, February 6th, 2014, the BU Gastronomy Students Association hosted a discussion panel that addressed those career paths.  The event featured Catherine Smart and Peggy Hernandez, both reporters for the Boston Globe’s dining section, as well as Lauren Cicione, who organizes wine tours in Italy for connoisseurs.

Catherine Smart is a graduate of the BU Gastronomy Master’s program, and, when she is not submitting articles to the Globe, she is working hard as a personal chef.  As most writing gigs are freelance and don’t provide a steady source of income, Smart says it’s a good idea to have another job.  She is thrilled with her personal chef business, which she finds both enjoyable and lucrative, and recommends students take the Culinary Arts Laboratory if they wish to follow in her footsteps.

Smart also advises that persistence and networking are key in developing a career in food writing, with which Peggy Hernandez couldn’t agree more.  A longtime Globe veteran, Hernandez began her career as a news reporter covering “crime and grime” in the late 80s and early 90s before her husband’s job had them moving abroad.  Upon returning to the US, Hernandez began freelancing for the Globe’s dining section and is known for her in-depth coverage of food trends. Both Hernandez and Smart strongly advise writers to join networking sites such as Muck Rack and LinkedIn to help brand themselves as serious writers.

Lauren Cicione got her start in culinary tourism quite by accident.  Working in the New York City art world, she was no stranger to wining and dining.  Once the recession hit, the market for fine art dwindled, and Cicione decided that a sojourn in Italy would be ideal.  It was there that she befriended small wine producers in Piedmont and Tuscany, and, before long, had an exclusive business organizing Italian wine tours for the most discerning connoisseurs.

Like Smart and Hernandez, Cicione says that networking is key, as the majority of her clients are referred to her by word-of-mouth.  She also says that it is important to do your research when planning to start a business: look at your competitors to see what they’re doing and how much they’re charging, and don’t forget that your time and knowledge are valuable.  Beware of selling yourself short, while you want to be reasonable, you have to keep in mind that you are offering your talents and, especially to those in the Gastronomy program, your educational background.

The best news is, there are many people who are willing to help you along the way.  Professors are a great resource to help launch your career, and many people are more than happy to offer their assistance or advice.

For those who missed the panel discussion, a digital recording is available on request by emailing

Catherine Smart
Lauren Cicione

Carlos Olaechea was born in Peru and spent most of his life in Miami, FL before moving to Boston for the gastronomy program.  He was the dining columnist for his college newspaper and the Miami dining editor for

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

How to Publish Personality: Gastronomy students’ inside look into the publishing industry in Boston’s Harvard Common Press

by Natalie Shmulik

photo by Amy Young

photo by Amy Young

There is an unforgettable scene in the film, “Babette’s Feast”: A religiously devout group of townspeople hesitantly gather together for a momentous meal following the loss of their beloved pastor. After dinning on turtle soup, chocolate figs, and copious amounts of wine, the worried and aged faces of the distraught diners begin to transform. Fear and doubt wash away with every sip of luscious liqueur and peaceful smiles begin to appear as new and exciting flavors brush against the lips of each enlightened guest. The foods fuel a delightful conversation as memories and speeches are progressively shared around the table.  Finally, towards the end of this sensational feast, the respected general, Lorens, stands and proclaims that this meal has betrayed their simple wisdom.  They are now and forever inspired.

On Saturday, December 1st inspiration came in another form. BU Gastronomy Graduate Students made their way through the cozy and eclectic halls of the Harvard Common Press (H.C.P.), one of the Nation’s leading independently owned cookbook publishers. Bruce Shaw, owner of H.C.P., invited twenty-five students into his wife’s neighboring art-studio, to feast on knowledge and experience.  Yes, there was real food too: a carb-centered spread of sweet and savory pastries from Flour Bakery. The “sticky buns” are a whole other kind of inspiration.

photo by Katherine Hysmith

photo by Katherine Hysmith

Organized by BU’s Gastronomy Students’ Association, this meaningful event successfully merged the world of academia with real-world exposure to the ever-changing field of food-related publishing and writing.  Joined by BU Gastronomy Alumni and Program Director Rachel Black, students gathered around cookbook-centered round tables to laugh, listen and learn. The discussion began with invited guest, Ilene Bezahler, Publisher and Editor of Edible Boston, the most successful magazine within the Edible community. Bezahler, a powerful advocate of the local food movement, whom I first had the pleasure of listening to at Northeastern’s Open Classroom Series, captivated our attention with a description of her own journey towards food and the magazine industry. Students couldn’t help but admire Ilene as she recounted the moment when she received her first published issues of Edible Boston and had to hand deliver each and every magazine that arrived at her Brookline home. After offering students a plethora of honest and essential advice on pitching stories, Bezahler reminded us that dreams are ultimately hard work, but worth every effort.

photo by Amy Young

photo by Amy Young

Complementing Ilene Bezahler’s inspiring talk, Associate Publisher at H.C.P., Adam Salomone, offered students a series of key techniques needed to ensure these dreams materialize. Barely taking a breath during the two-hour speech he gave, Salomone covered nearly every aspect of cookbook publishing, marketing and the ever-evolving, yet crucial domain of social media, while putting repeated emphasis on the importance of Personal Branding. Even as he gave students this priceless industry knowledge, he stated adamantly that one must always keep learning and listening, because in the publishing world, something new and game-changing is always around the corner.

Personally, one of the most important lessons learned is that there is no such thing as a story that begins or ends on the page. Whether it’s doing your due-diligence to ensure that the company you are writing about is prepared to meet incoming demands once your article is published, or testing a recipe you wish to feature in a cookbook for which you will be held liable for as the author, one must always be prepared to research, adapt and rearrange. Mr. Salomone reminded us that the food world is a community and that the authors you follow on twitter, the books you read and the blogs you connect with are all just as important as your own writing.

After a final push to keep our eyes open and ears peeled, students quickly collected handshakes and business cards as they worked their way out into the snowy weather. Every lucky participant left with a satiated tummy full of baked goods, a copy of his or her very own H.C.P. cookbook and- as encouraged by Bezahler and Salomone- all the motivation needed to “go forth in the direction of their dreams!”

Thank you to the Harvard Common Press team and Ilene Bezahler for an unforgettable experience.

Natalie is a Gastronomy student and President of the BU Gastronomy Students’ Association.

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.

Now Available: BU Gastronomy Tote Bags and Aprons







The results are in – you’ve voted “Think Good Food” as the winning design for your BU Gastronomy swag! Thanks to all who submitted an entry and participated in the poll. The winning design was created by Gastronomy student and graduate assistant, Lucia Austria.

You can purchase your tote bag through our own BU Gastronomy store hosted by Zazzle. Choose to show off your swag from:

  • Seven different tote styles
  • Three different apron styles

Remember, a portion of the proceeds for each bag will go toward Gastronomy Student Association events.

Support BU Gastronomy!