Just Picked: last crop (of new students) for the season

Over the last few weeks, as the admissions office wrapped up their work, we introduced you to all the new students who will be joining the Boston University Gastronomy Program this coming fall. This post includes the final batch of new students for the season. Each new student was 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.


ElliseEllise Basch: Ellise was born in Colorado, and her family moved to California when she was a young girl. Missing the elements of nature, she managed to return to pursue an education in history, with a dabble in medicine for her longstanding post as a ski patroller. She delights in being out of doors with loved ones and especially enjoys having a hot cup of tea at the end of a cold day.

She finds it generally impossible to go more than two hours without thinking about food, and decided (with not so gentle suggestions from others) to explore Gastronomy in hopes of combining food with a professional future. The times of the day she is most fond of is cooking for her better half, and though he still refuses to eat tomatoes, challenges her to expand her knowledge of food.

After her time in Boston, she plans to find her way back to the West for some food inspired adventures. She wishes to discover what constitutes good food in various communities and aspires to explore the many relationships that food creates.


food pic (1)Leigh Shaplen: Growing up working in restaurants and in a family of winemakers and cooks inspired Leigh to live all things food. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area Leigh moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago to follow two of her biggest passions, food and college football. Since then she received her B.A. from the University of Southern California and has a career in restaurant advertising.

Leigh is ecstatic to become further connected to food marketing, policy and systems through BU’s Gastronomy program. Ultimately she hopes to achieve her dream job of working alongside chefs and restaurant owners in a Marketing role.

Leigh has traveled the world both independently and through the Semester at Sea program seeking food experiences and culinary gems.She enjoys cooking Californian and Italian food for her friends and family and is very excited to get to know the city of Boston-and all the best brunch places!


NikkiCervoneNikki Cervone: Growing up, Nikki never thought of pursuing an education or a career in food. Even though she thrived in a family life inundating with freshly made pasta, backyard gardens, and endless sheet trays of freshly baked goods, she wanted to be an elementary school librarian. It was not until undergraduate school that she realized she could no longer constrain an increasingly blossoming love of food to the confines of a home kitchen. Even while attending Duquesne University for a communications degree, her hunger for a more culinary-based learning did not cease. She longed for a second helping. Nikki started taking cooking and baking classes during the summers at her local community college. After graduating from Duquesne summa cum laude in December 2011, Nikki became a full-time baking and pastry student. During that time, Nikki had the opportunity to be a team member of the American Culinary Federation’s Student Knowledge Bowl Competition. Competing against highly renowned culinary schools, her community college team won the national competition (the highest level!) held in Las Vegas this past July.

Before attending the Gastronomy program this fall, Nikki will be completing an externship in “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” Hershey, PA! As a baking and pastry extern at The Hotel Hershey, Nikki is refining her skills in bulk production and the inner workings of the hospitality industry…and eating an unbelievable amount of chocolate.

Nikki ardently believes that life and the beauty of cuisine will forever be intertwined. There is a necessity for an ongoing attentiveness and willingness to change and to continue the pursuit of learning. Like cookery, Nikki has evolved in order to cultivate my passion for food. From librarian to baker, she welcomes the changes in life and is looking forward to this new experience as an avid, devoted student of Gastronomy.


Chanel AlexandriaChanel Alexandria Winston: While earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia in Business Administration, Chanel Alexandria had the opportunity to serve as a Missouri Senate Intern whose committee coverage included the Agricultural Committee. This lead to a discussion about why the Senator viewed this assignment more crucial than her coveted Appropriations Committee appointment, which ended with one simple question “How many things are more important than the food we eat?” Combined with Chanel’s natural appetite for healthy lifestyles, this conversation planted a seed that has forever changed how she pondered and experienced vittles.

Chanel Alexandria carried this growing passion to the Atlanta, Georgia area where she earned a Master’s in Public Administration from Georgia State University. During this experience she bolstered her love for food in new ways by working in legislative affairs and learning more about the intricacies involved in shaping policy decisions. While studying, she was also selected to serve as a Governor’s Graduate Intern which opened her eyes to food issues while administering and exploring a policy portfolio that included agriculture, economic development, transportation, public safety, environmental issues, and the state budget.

From there Chanel went on to the Washington, DC area to serve in the federal government. Within this capacity she has worked on healthy driver initiatives geared towards ensuring commercial carriers are afforded better resources for nutritious food choices to remain “fit for duty” while driving on our nation’s highways. During her tenure she was also selected to visit India as a member of a People to People International Public Administration Delegation. In this role as a Citizen Ambassador, she enjoyed the opportunity to explore food within a cultural context, learning more about food as a symbolic tool and observing some of the widespread socioeconomic issues surrounding food in developing countries.

Today Chanel is focused upon exploring food in a more academic manner to incorporate gastronomy into her business as a holistic image consultant, with hopes of adding to the broader discussion of food options, choices, and awareness.


HiggsAshley Higgs: Ashley, originally from Tulsa, graduated from the University of Oklahoma this past May with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a love for food studies. She has always loved eating and being in the kitchen, however her interest in studying food began in a Food and Culture class in her third semester at OU. Since then, she has taken as many food related classes as she could squeeze into her class schedules and ended undergraduate school writing her honors thesis on the history of the national school lunch program and its effects on children today. Fortunate enough to grow up in a household where fresh fruits and vegetables were the norm, she wants to work to make this the norm for all people across America.

Never having lived outside of Oklahoma, she is more than excited to start the next chapter of her life in Boston at BU’s Gastronomy program and wants to learn as much as she can about food culture, policy, access issues, and justice. In her free time, she loves to cook with and for people, have long and interesting conversations, and make art.


abbyclementAbby Clement: Recent discovery of a cache of old photographs has reaffirmed that Abby’s life has centered around food for well…forever. Though pictures evolve from smeared food in highchairs to the civilized endeavor of destroying massive drumsticks at Thanksgiving dinner, food is a main player in almost every picture in this treasure trove. Not surprisingly then, as an Anthropology major she strove to understand the cultural reasons why so many people did not deeply care for or about the food they put into their bodies. She has gained insight working for small farmer’s cooperatives and local sustainable businesses, by volunteering for non-profits, farms and small local bakeries. What she now aims for is a deeper theoretical understanding of the current climate surrounding food and health; to try and sort through the labyrinth of influencing factors from gender to class, business to media- and to creatively find an avenue to generate change. She loves a good laugh, Neil Young and the casual run.


DSC_0489Ty Robinson: Ty grew up in Steamboat Springs, CO also known as Ski Town USA. Mom was always cooking first class meals and Ty “helped” from an early age. Ty has always been interested in food as something more than simply something to eat. He graduated from St. Olaf College in 2010 with a degree in Social Studies Education. While at St. Olaf, Ty started exploring his love of food history and culture whenever he got the opportunity. Since graduating Ty has worked in Minnesota’s premier liquor store, France 44 Wines & Spirits, and has come to love all things related to alcohol. Ty is looking forward to exploring the crash of food cultures and also the various trends in alcohol over the course of history while a student at B.U.


SarahRushSarah Rush: I am from Austin, Texas, and earned my Bachelor’s in English and Government at UT Austin. When health issues arose in my early twenties, I shifted my focus to food and to the germane topics surrounding it. This necessary interest gradually grew into a lifestyle and a passion. I currently work in a farm-to-table restaurant, and haphazardly keep a blog about all things food-related. I’ve spent my four years post-graduation looking for a program like this one, and I am overjoyed to be coming to Boston in the Fall.


Check out previous new student profiles here.

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