Student Spotlight: Morgan Mannino

“Cook’s Illustrated, I’ve got a tasting of apple crostata in the main kitchen,” a test cook’s voice mumbles over the telephone speaker.

Morgan dressed up as one of the most popular Cook’s Illustrated recipes of 2017, the Olive Oil Cake.

I look up from my work, it’s 11AM, having some dessert pre-lunch won’t hurt me, plus it’s got apples in it (it’s practically health food) and I’d love to see where Steve is in his recipe development. I grab my phone and head to the kitchen with the hope of stringing together some engaging shots for our Instagram Story. The editors and I stand around a metal table and munch on 3 different samples of crostata, looking for variations in texture and flavor and comment on them. The Cook’s Illustrated team could spend hours analyzing and debating different ways to improve the texture of an apple slice in a crostata. These debates will help inform and color my social posts about the recipe, almost a year in the future. The recipe development happens so far ahead since it involves an extensive, rigorous process of making and making and making again, surveying home cooks who volunteer to make the recipe at home, final tweaking, shooting, and finally publishing. This, of course, is a strange balance with the immediacy in which I am Instagramming what’s currently going on, right now, in the kitchen. Such is the nature of working in social media for a 25 year old magazine.

Three apple crostatas line up in the test kitchen for a tasting analyzing different techniques for apple arrangement and crust recipes.

These tastings punctuate my day as I work towards the overarching goal of marketing Cook’s Illustrated and developing the brand on social media. As a Senior Social Media Coordinator at America’s Test Kitchen, I curate, write, and schedule all the content that goes out on the Cook’s Illustrated Instagram and Facebook accounts (with a little Pinterest here and there). I also work very closely with the magazine editors, video team, photo team, and design team to strategize, visualize, and communicate our brand on the platforms. The craziest time of year is right now, Thanksgiving and the holidays, where I’ll spend 100s of manhours (having started in July) planning and strategizing a cohesive campaign that not only is engaging but also meets our marketing business goals.

Behind the scenes during an animation photoshoot for a guacamole recipe.

I began the Gastronomy program in January of 2016. At the time I had been working at America’s Test Kitchen for almost 3 years, but on the Sponsorship Sales team doing client service work. I had the vision of becoming a member of the social media team, but I needed to pave the path to get there in order to be ready once the opportunity presented itself. The program was a help in that journey, inspiring confidence, inspiration, and helping me craft my writing. It also gave me the knowledge of culture and history of food that I have been able to take into my social media role from writing post copy to adding my opinion in a tasting.

Everyday I am incredibly thankful for my job and for the gastronomy program for not only reminding me why I love food and culture so much, but for giving me the tools to make turn that energy into a tangible reality. Some days I’m capturing our tastings and testings team saw coolers in half with a reciprocating saw for Instagram Stories, others I may be joining them for a tasting of 10 samples of burrata or hot sauce, on very special days there might be chocolate pie or some other treat in our “take home fridge” (where all the extra food goes from recipe development each day)  or gushing over the fact that I get to host a food celebrity in house, most days there are dogs wandering about. Needless to say, I often find myself filled with gratitude for my job, especially when a “bad day” is caused by an empty take home fridge or the stress of planning and executing a Facebook Live about prime rib. It’s hard to know where to go from here (I still can’t believe I am working for the magazine that I used to cuddle up and read when I was growing up), and I am so grateful to be here, but know when it’s time I’ll follow where my nose (and taste buds) lead me.

Left: 8 samples of chicken wings in 7 different hot sauces line up for a tasting. Right: Morgan sawing a lunch tray in the name of science (our tastings and testings team was learning how to use the saw to cut into coolers and other kitchen equipment to learn more about how they work).
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Conference Abstracts Workshop & Potluck

Interested in submitting a proposal for the 2018 ASFS conference? Not sure how to group papers into panel presentations? Curious about where you can submit your academic work? How does one write a proposal, anyway??

Join us for a potluck while we work on writing our conference abstracts on Wednesday, Dec. 13th from 6pm – 8pm in Fuller 109.

Please email Barbara at brotger@bu.edu if you plan on attending.

Student Spotlight: Krysia Villon

Eating well (and I don’t mean healthy), cooking and activism are in my blood.

I believe in food sovereignty for all of us inhabiting this Earth but do not believe we will ever achieve it unless we begin to see ourselves as the caretakers of our Mother rather than the owners of “it.” We cannot see the value in protecting her and fostering her growth if we insist on dominating her and possessing her. We cannot understand the ways in which to care for her if we do not look to our past. How do we get back to being caretakers and protectors so that peoples may achieve true food sovereignty?

I am the daughter of a Peruvian immigrant father and a Boston-born mother of Polish and Scottish/English descent. I am the oldest of five children and the mother of one fierce little girl. I am the granddaughter of a lawyer who became a judge, a homemaker extraordinaire who produced elegant meals and made her own clothes, a farmer who walked over mountains to sell his goods, and mother who became a pro-union community activist while also being godmother to many, among other things.

I come from a long-line of ancestors that have moved mountains for their family and loved ones. It is their children who continue to tell their stories so that they may live within us and through us. This is how we do not forget. This is how we remember and we value those that came before us. My family tree is chock full of creative, faithful, resourceful individuals who have collectively inspired me since I heeded their call to live and breathe into my true self. I consider myself a storyteller.

I was born and raised in the Boston-area and during my formative years my father owned a Latin American restaurant in Cambridge that focused on Peruvian cuisine. I was that little kid that fell asleep on chairs I had pushed together under the tables, that kid that hung out in the kitchen waiting to sneak a taste when someone wasn’t looking, and that kid that even learned to dance salsa after hours in the bar when I should have been home doing my homework. It is with this particular palate, spirit, and the inherited fire in my gut that I found myself attracted to the world of food, history (stories), and foodways.

I spent ten years in fundraising and volunteer management in non-profits and higher education institutions but was unfulfilled. I left my former field and ran off to Johnson and Wales University (JWU) in Providence, RI to obtain my Culinary Arts degree. I think of this as my second life.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at JWU. I was instructed by fantastic chefs that helped me in refining my cooking skills and allowed me to bring my new found confidence in the kitchen outside the classroom. I also took advantage of the study-abroad program which landed me in Lima, Peru in 2011. I took courses and was trained by more fantastic chefs who deepened my knowledge of Peruvian food, food history and foodways. I postponed my return to the States and stayed in the capital for 6 months. I landed three jobs simultaneously: I worked as a waitress in the only Irish pub to serve Guinness in Lima for money, I worked as a translator and receptionist at a hostel for housing, and I also secured an internship at a Four Fork (Five Star equivalent in the U.S.) restaurant in Lima for experience. I think I slept for a month when I got back. I had every intention to one day open my own restaurant.

Upon my return to the U.S. I completed my culinary degree. It is also during this time I discovered I was pregnant with my miracle baby. Her arrival into my life changed my course slightly but, undoubtedly, changed it for the better. I began to re-think the way I ate, where my food came from, and what I wanted her know about the hands and ingenuity that fed and feed her.

It was during her first year of her life I began my time at Taza Chocolate in Somerville, MA. What drew me to this company was its Direct Trade program in cacao, its connection to food and foodways, and that I would be interacting with the public. I began working part-time at local farmers markets and giving tours which ultimately led me to managing the factory store and tour program today. I am responsible for creating new types of programming and events for the factory store and producing their larger events like our recent Dia de los Muertos block party. In helping plan this event for years I was also able to connect Taza with local cultural organizations to infuse an already successful event into one that was also educational. As manager, I’ve specifically developed programming for children, Spanish-language tours, built a new classroom, enhanced tour materials including video content, created classes like Cacao 101 that teaches about determining the quality of cacao, and even educational games that both inform and engage our customers in new ways.

It was in my own personal experience of learning the comprehensive material in my training at Taza that first sparked my interest in going back to school. I was actively learning again and with that learning arose more questions which only engaged me in more research. It was a beautiful cycle. One morning, two years into my role at Taza, I woke up and realized I had become a storyteller and an educator. When I was young an elder told me that I would become a teacher one day in a non-conventional setting. I had arrived at that moment. I made a decision that I would go back to school so I could immerse myself again in the things that would continue to fuel the fire in my gut. Today, that fire is burning stronger than ever.

I am pursuing my degree at an even pace to remain grounded as a mom and a working woman and to be mindful about the connections I’m making in my research, in my personal and professional networking, and in myself. I now understand more food history and the stories I must learn. I see the gaps and I believe if I learn them I can tell those stories to small and large audiences alike so that we might be reminded of the places from which we come. These stories may come in the form of written word or oral history but I definitely see some more non-conventional, or even conventional, classrooms in my future! We need to hear more stories about the hands, and hearts, that feed us. We need more storytellers before we collectively forget how we got here. I am my ancestors wildest dreams, as Brandan “Bmike” Odums says. I will keep speaking their spirits. I will keep speaking their ingenuity. I will keep speaking their heart so that we are reminded to protect and foster and not to own and possess. I will keep telling the stories. By doing so, I hope I make them proud.

Congratulations to the Julia Child Award Recipients

The Julia Child Award goes to a matriculating student in the Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy program who has been nominated by their instructor for outstanding academic work. The following students were recently recognized for their work done in the Spring 2017 semester. Congratulations to everyone!

Ashlyn Frassinelli

My name is Ashlyn and I’m in my third semester of the Gastronomy program. Before coming to Boston, I studied journalism at George Washington University. When I’m not in class I work as a graduate assistant in event coordinating for the Food and Wine program and I bartend at Lamplighter Brewing in Cambridge.
My winning piece was my final project from last spring’s Food and Memoir class. Titled “Family,” the piece incorporated four standalone pieces of memoir writing I had written over the semester into a coherent longform piece. I wrote about a number of different relationships in my life, as well as my (ever-evolving) relationship with food. I am so honored to have won this award — I especially want to thank Professor Pepper for nominating me and for encouraging me to challenge myself.

Karl Koch

Karl is in his second year as a Gastronomy student after working as a school garden educator in Tucson, AZ, and is particularly interested in the intersection of food systems and social justice. He was cited for his essay for Dr. Messer’s U.S. Food Policy & Culture course on rights-based approaches to food policy and discussing sometimes-competing narratives of the “food movement.”

Spring 2018 Pepin Lecture Lineup

The Boston University Programs in Food and Wine have announced the following titles in the Spring 2018 Pépin Lecture Series in Food Studies, Gastronomy, and the Culinary Arts.

February 13th: Julie Guthman

UCSC professor Julie Guthman will be giving a lecture on her research on the California strawberry industry. You can read more about her recent talk on New Food Activism at Harvard here.

According to news.ucsc.edu, Guthman is a geographer who has been widely recognized for her study of organic farming and sustainable agriculture in California, as well as for her critical analysis of the obesity epidemic. She is an alumna of UC Santa Cruz (B.A., sociology, 1979) who joined the faculty in 2003.

March 29th: Jonathan Deutsch

James Beard Foundation Impact Fellow and Professor at Drexel Jonathan Deutsch will be giving a lecture on his work repurposing food waste.

According to drexel.edu, Deutsch joined Drexel from Kingsborough Community College-CUNY, where he served as professor and founding director of the culinary arts program as well as deputy chair of the department of tourism and hospitality. He previously worked at CUNY Graduate Center as professor of public health and founding director of the food studies concentration. Deutsch’s research interests include social and cultural aspects of food, recipe and product development and culinary education. He received his doctorate in food studies and food management from New York University.

He is the author of six food studies books, including Barbeque: A Global History, Food Studies: An Introduction to Research Methods, and Jewish American Food Culture.

April 11th: Ken Albala

Ken Albala is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific and Director of the Food Studies MA program in San Francisco. He will be talking about his new book, Noodle Soup: Recipes, Techniques, Obsession.

“Every day, noodle shops around the globe ladle out quick meals that fuel our go-go lives. But Ken Albala has a mission: to get YOU in the kitchen making noodle soup. This primer offers the recipes and techniques for mastering quick-slurper staples and luxurious from-scratch feasts. Albala made a different noodle soup every day for two years. His obsession yielded all you need to know about making stock bases, using dried or fresh noodles, and choosing from a huge variety of garnishes, flavorings, and accompaniments. He lays out innovative techniques for mixing and matching bases and noodles with grains, vegetables, and other ingredients drawn from an international array of cuisines.

In addition to recipes both cutting edge and classic, Alabala describes new soup discoveries he created along the way. There’s advice on utensils, cooking tools, and the oft-overlooked necessity of matching a soup to the proper bowl. Finally, he sprinkles in charming historical details that cover everything from ancient Chinese millet noodles to that off-brand Malaysian ramen at the back of the ethnic grocery store. Filled with more than seventy color photos and one hundred recipes, A World of Noodle Soup is an indispensable guide for cooking, eating, and loving a universal favorite.”