Just Picked: A veritable cornucopia of new students

Over the next few weeks, as the admissions office wraps up their work, we will introduce the new students who are joining the Boston University Gastronomy Program this coming fall. 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 crop of Gastronomy grads.


samanthashaneSamantha Shane: Samantha recently graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a bachelor’s degree in History. Growing up in Washington, D.C., her exposure to a diversity of cultures and cuisines fostered her love of food and its role in society. After an internship with up-and-coming chef Cara Stadler, chef/owner of Tao Yuan in Brunswick, Maine, Samantha was inspired to combine her academic interests with her deep love of food and cooking. Through the Gastronomy program, she hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the multifaceted and constantly evolving food industry. Samantha plans to pursue a career in food writing, and eventually she would like to open a small restaurant or craft food market. Aside from cooking, her hobbies include writing, traveling, hiking, and skiing. She is excited to spend more time in Boston and see what the city’s food scene has to offer.


Cici Tianyu JITianyu Ji: I grew up in Beijing, the capital of China. This summer, I graduated from the University of International Business and Economics with a B.A. in Business English and a minor in French. With busy parents, I started cooking at a very young age, and became obsessed with food ever since. I am engrossed in the beauty of food culture and the chemistry between people and cuisine. Complex food systems and millions of flavors characterized Chinese food, while I am more excited to explore Western food in the Gastronomy program! Here I wish I could enrich myself in food and food business while getting hands-on experience in catering. My dream is to make documentary about food, cuisine, and culture that promote occidental-oriental understanding. In my spare time, I always enjoy cooking for friends, studying nutrition, traveling and learning new languages (For now I’m learning French and German). I tutored Chinese for five years, part-timed as interpreter, and interned in many corporations.

Studying Gastronomy is a life-changing decision for me! So exited!


meredithevansMeredith Evans: Meredith has been a food lover for as long as she can remember – her first memory was on a step stool sneaking cookie dough! As she got older, she developed other interests and got her B.A. from The University of Arizona in Political Science. Combining her love for politics and food, she is passionate about working to improve the food system. Meredith recently moved to Boston from Madison, Wisconsin where she worked at a large food pantry. While working at the food pantry, she focused primarily on improving access to ‘good food’. Meredith loves meeting the growers and producers who are passionate about what they produce and strive to make quality products.

Ultimately, be it wine, cheese or heirloom tomatoes, Meredith wants to find ways of improving access to unique producers. She believes the Gastronomy Program will give her the tools and inspiration to make this a reality.


carlosCarlos Olaechea: Carlos C. Olaechea was born in Lima, Peru after his mother ate too much at a pachamanca, the Peruvian answer to the clambake but with guinea pigs and tamales. The traditional Andean feast that triggered his birth sparked Carlos’s lifelong love for culture and cuisine. While his peers played video games, young Carlos was studying ethnic cookbooks and experimenting with recipes. Growing up in Miami with an American mother and Peruvian father, Carlos was exposed to many worlds and credits his upbringing with his ability to view culture with an analytical eye.

Carlos began expressing his ideas through writing at the age of 11 with articles he contributed to his middle school newspaper that explained sushi, recommended good local restaurants, and highlighted the African influences in Hispanic culture. He received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology at Florida International University and was the food columnist for his university’s newspaper, The Beacon.

Carlos has continued to unite his three loves – culture, food, and writing – as the Miami dining editor for Joonbug and contributed to Soul of Miami and Examiner, as well as his own blog. He loves getting to the soul of traditional cuisines, is interested in how cities develop a culinary identity, and is eating his way towards becoming a Haitian food expert. He hopes to publish books demystifying foreign cuisines for Americans, starting with one about the diverse food of his hometown, Lima.


dhvaniDhvani Desai: Born in Africa and coming to the United States for educational purposes, Dhvani has experienced many different cultures from a young age. Although ethnically Indian her passion derives from cultures all over the world. She believes that food showcases many aspects of life, such as history, environment, culture, and language. For this reason she pursued a bachelors at Johnson & Wales University, in food and beverage management and now is looking forward to pursuing Gastronomy at BU. Dhvani is eager to start classes in Gastronomy and learn from her future colleagues, professors and industry professionals. She is not only excited to start her graduate program but to move to Boston and immerse herself in this thrilling and adventurous city and everything it has to offer.


Clara Hanson Head ShotClara Hanson: By the way Clara’s eyes widened after tasting her first doughnut, her mother knew she would follow in her father and grandfather’s footsteps – Clara would become a raging chocoholic. What Clara’s mother may not have recognized, however, was that being raised in a home where she was required to finish all of the fresh fruits and vegetables Vermont had to offer would later influence Clara’s decision to adopt a vegan diet and become infatuated with all things related to food.

More recently, Clara completed a Bachelors of Arts degree in American Studies and Sociology at The George Washington University. During her studies, she wrote an honors thesis about the portrayal of plant-based diets in elementary school curricula. She looks forward to further research regarding the way food values and ideologies are communicated. Clara’s interests outside of the program include making her own calendars and thank you cards, playing with any dog that will have her, and exploring all things art, theater, and food.


KGouin_HeadshotKate Gouin: It was during childhood that Kate Gouin realized her desire to spend a lifetime working in the food and hospitality industry. She began her career with food by trapping blue claw crabs as a child and selling them door-to-door during long summers at the seashore. She has since conceptualized countless entrepreneurial dreams.

After graduating from NYU with a degree in Hotel and Tourism Management, she worked in a variety of capacities in the hotel and restaurant industry. Each opportunity, including front office operations in a number of luxury hotels, catering and restaurant operations and most recently, sales for a wholesaler in the liquor industry, was embraced and valued as an essential piece of a larger dream. Kate has diligently and strategically sought experiences and knowledge to prepare her for her future. She is now looking forward to culminating 20 years of experience into a formal business plan and taking the leap toward fulfilling her lifelong dream of owning an inn and restaurant.

It is with great anticipation that Kate begins her graduate studies at BU with the belief that this program will provide the missing piece to pull together years of ideas with her passion for food and service. Kate longs for the opportunity to further her development as an individual and a professional and to foster opportunities that will further enrich the journey.


merilippardMeri Lippard: Meri Lippard, a lifetime foodie and locavore, grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts. At a young age she had a connection to cooking and food that grew into a passion. Relishing childhood memories of baking bread with her great grandmother and watching her Mom make chicken soup made her realize that she wanted a career in the culinary industry that combined her love of food with her desire to share that with others.

Meri is a recent graduate of Stonehill College, where she studied English and Business Administration. Within her four years of undergraduate, she interned for two semesters with a local culinary magazine, edible South Shore, where she found her inspiration for food journalism. She also worked as a baker and cupcake decorator and is now working for a catering company as a chef, cultivating her culinary creativity.

She is eager to be a part of the Gastronomy program to further develop her fervor for food.


JocetteLee-PhotoJocette Lee: Jocette is a recent graduate of Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration. During her undergraduate career, she was able to spend considerable time in both Turkey and France, and has since developed interest in each of these food cultures.

Growing up in the American Southwest, she has a strong love and passion for New Mexican dishes and spicy flavor. Tamales are her specialty!

She is eager to enter into a program that truly concentrates on the cultural and anthropological aspects of food. Since she was very young, she has always been drawn to food both for indulgent and social purposes.

Jocette is beyond excited to continue to learn about the gastronomical impact of food in the development of society. This program could not be a better fit for the next phase of her life and she is ready to soak up as much knowledge and experience as possible!


jpackardJennifer Packard: Jennifer grew up in Minnesota but has lived in Boston for the past fourteen years. She has an undergraduate business degree from the University of St. Thomas (in St. Paul – not on the Caribbean island) and an MBA from the Wharton School in Philadelphia. Jen spent the past fifteen years doing marketing for various food companies and currently works full time as a brand manager. Jen is fascinated by the history of food and its place in our culture. She would like to better understand the connections between food, communities, and the supply chain in an effort to influence those relationships for the better.

Growing up with a mother who loved to bake, Jen still worships the holy trinity of flour, sugar, and butter. She loves to try new restaurants, but having three young sons at home, doesn’t get out nearly as often as she’d like to. Instead, Jen regularly subjects her family to sampling all of her experimental recipes (though her kids have made it very clear that they would be perfectly happy with plain pasta). In addition to food and wine, Jennifer enjoys gardening, hiking, reading and doing crossword puzzles.


Come back soon to see the rest of our freshly picked Gastronomy graduate students!

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