Michelle Estades Santiago was born in Arecibo, one of the largest cities in the northern coast of Puerto Rico. In May 2016 she completed a BA in Journalism with a second concentration in Radio Production at the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus. From 2013 to 2016 she worked as a web journalist in the newspaper Metro Puerto Rico, and from 2014 to 2016 she also served as a journalist in Diálogo, the newspaper of the University of Puerto Rico, where she wrote many stories related to food. Since she was 17 years old Michelle has prepared birthday cakes and desserts for all occasions. So when she read about the master’s program in Gastronomy at Boston University she knew it was perfect for her because it combined her two professional areas. With this master she intends to specialize in food journalism and work that concept in her country.
Anastasia Nicolaou was born and raised (for the most part) in Silicon Valley, and is lucky to have a mother who loves cooking and traveling, and fervently exposed her to both from a young age. Anastasia came to Boston to attend Simmons College, graduating with honors in Economics and Political Science. While working her first day job out of school for Governor Deval Patrick, she worked weekends, waiting tables and getting to know the industry. This fostered a passion for cooking and food culture that had long been a hobby. Now the Communications Coordinator for an office focused on women’s parity in American politics, Anastasia joins the Gastronomy program’s Food Policy track to learn about food security and emerging markets, as well as explore the role of food in our collective cultural identity.
Donna Lopez is a California and Austin, Texas transplant to Boston and have family members in Chile. She has travelled extensively — from Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Panama to Western Europe, especially Spain. Donna is an MGH graduate with years of work in clinical nursing and education. She has an undergraduate degree from UCLA in International Relations and a graduate degree from Tufts Medical School PHPD program in Pain Research, Education and Policy. She has also studied the intersection of immunology, nutrition and infectious diseases in a global world. Ultimately, she came to the conclusion that aesthetics and nutritive value in meals along with good company are the foundation to health and well-being in human lives. Donna also spent a few years studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and Asian concepts of nutrition. In TCM the foundation of health comes ancestrally before birth, but after birth, the stomach (and the TCM concept of spleen) are at the center of human health. Thus, nutrition is critical to the health and longevity of our species.
Donna plans to focus on food policy as well as history and culture and notes that the Gastronomy Program has been timed to an era when we need to reflect on our generation’s food supply from a lens on political, economic and food science/marketing policy perspective. She writes: “One of my favorite foods in the last few years are dishes made with quinoa which I was alarmed to learn that the Andean people who have grown and been nourished by this staple for a millennia can no longer afford the price, high on world market prices. Their food substitution of less healthy grains and refined carbohydrates have led to increase in diabetes and heart disease in this population. We are an intimately linked globalized world and I hope to raise at least my own consciousness and hopefully many others through the work in this program and in years after. Julia Child and Jacques Pepin created the innovative idea of combining food study with academia and I think I have found the right place to study and contribute what I know.”
Giovanna Clott lives in Hopkinton, Massachusetts with her husband and two teenage daughters. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Connecticut. Giovanna went on to earn her Certified Public Accounting certificate in the state of Connecticut. She worked for nearly 10 years in her field of study and then decided to stay at home full-time to raise her daughters. Out of necessity of preparing family meals, she re-discovered her passion for food and culinary related topics. Researching and testing recipes, especially with regard to baking, became her creative outlet. Giovanna is fascinated by food culture and history, which she attributes to her upbringing. Her family emigrated from Italy to Hartford, Connecticut, where Giovanna was born. Her childhood was spent observing and participating in her family’s cultural traditions, from preserving the garden’s bounty, to wine and cheese making, and preparing authentic meals. Most recently, Giovanna worked part-time at Sur La Table in both a retail-sales role and as a teacher’s assistant in Sur La Table’s culinary program. From this experience, Giovanna decided she wanted to learn more. Through research, she discovered Boston University’s Graduate Program in Food Studies and Gastronomy. Giovanna is confident this program will provide her with the knowledge she seeks to find her best fit for a second career.
Morrisa Engles was born in Dallas, TX where she first discovered her love of food. From there, she lived in Louisville home of the Kentucky Derby, Cincinnati, OH where she received her BBA in Accounting and a Culinary Arts degree, and South Korea where she taught ESL.
During these life experiences Morrisa’s love of food and culture blossomed leading her towards the decision to enroll in the Gastronomy program at Boston University. Morrisa plans to create educational content that uses food to explore cultural identity. In addition, she is interested in writing recipe books and owning a restaurant with flavors from around the world!
Ashlyn Frassinelli was born and raised in the quiet suburbs of Philadelphia, not too far from Amish country. She was raised on her mother’s inventive German-American cooking, which consisted of plenty of roasted meat, fluffy German pancakes, curly spaetzles, and buttery pound cake.
She attended the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she obtained her B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication. She spent those four years cooking out of box-sized dorm kitchens and vainly attempting to spice up packages of Top Ramen. She had the opportunity to work with food in several different capacities while in D.C., from interning for José Andrés’ nonprofit organization to writing for a local food and restaurant news blog to serving pastries and coffee at a neighborhood bakery. At BU she intends to hone her writing skills in hopes of becoming America’s next great food writer.
Ashlyn has taken a solemn vow that she will try any food at least once – something she may yet live to regret. She is a proponent of nose-to-tail cooking and occasionally chronicles her adventures in the kitchen on her blog, Offally Sweet.
Jimena Garnier was born and raised in the tropical country of Costa Rica. From an early age, the beautiful and colorful exotic fruits and vegetables found locally invigorated her fascination with food. She has worked with her father, an amateur chef and farmer, who has spent years cultivating the foods of the indigenous tribes from Costa Rica, such as native purple corn, honey and making a variety of hot sauces using an assortment of chillies that he grows on the farm.
While getting her BFA in Fine Arts from SVA in New York, Jimena used fruits and vibrant foods as her medium in sculptures. After graduating and returning to Costa Rica, she began searching for jobs in the food styling industry. However, the lack of opportunities in the area only elevated her passion for making more beautiful and relevant food. The rapid growing restaurant business in Costa Rica desperately needs a culinary consulting and styling agency. After graduating from BU’s Master in Gastronomy with a focus in Communication, Jimena hopes to return once again to her native country as an expert in making perfect donuts and to open a Culinary Consulting agency.
Ritika Naresh Jagasia was born and raised in a multiethnic city of Bombay, India. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media and specialized in Advertisement. While studying, she interned with food and travel networks like NDTV GoodTimes and Living foodz. After Graduating, she continued working in the food industry which involved managing a culinary studio. She was mentored by India’s finest Pastry Chef and further went on to develop recipes for her second cook book of healthy desserts. She developed cooking skills and technique on the job and her hobbies include cooking regional Indian recipes with a modern twist. If ever given an opportunity to study again, she knew she would master in food. This propelled her to join Gastronomy Program. She looks forward to studying Food Policy and Systems and make a difference by working for the United Nations. The food nerd is also afraid she’ll die of dumpling overdose one day!
Lyrsa María Torres-Vélez, was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She started cooking at the tender age of 6 with the assistance of her dad and grandmother. She has an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts from Universidad del Este Carolina’s Campus, and recently obtained her BA in Anthropology with focus in Archaeology from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. She believes that studying gastronomy, will not only allow her to express her emotions, but will also enable her to of study the daily life of our ancestors using cookbooks, and their diet as reference. She was part of the symposium: Current Multidisciplinary Research Approaches in Historical Archaeology, in which she presented the paper: Puerto Rico’s Cookbooks: Recipes of a History, at this year’s Society for Historical Archaeology Conference in Washington, DC. She was very interested in the BU program since it combines both of her passions: Food and Archaeology. In her future plans she wants to obtain a PhD in Historical Archaeology focusing her investigation on Cook books. This will help her trace changes in the diet of Puerto Ricans. At some point, she wants to return to the University of Puerto Rico, and teach. She loves traveling, which lets her study other cultures through their food.
Sam Dolph grew up in the Boston area and received her BA in literature from BenningtonCollege in Vermont. After becoming inspired by a course she took as an undergrad called “Women Writing About Nature,” Sam began farming on Martha’s Vineyard to develop her own connection to the land. Sam continued farming for four summers and was amazed watching little seedlings grow into bloom and then land on her dinner plate. Farming helped cultivate Sam’s passion for not only growing, cooking up, and eating delicious food, but also using that food as a catalyst to build sustainable relationships and communities.
After graduating, Sam spent time working in the food industry/food startup world in Boston to learn about the different ways food functions and is valued by consumers. Now, Sam understands food to be at the core of the social and environmental injustice that we experience as a society both locally and globally and is motivated by the intersections of nutrition, public health, and social justice.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Giselle Kennedy Lord grew up devouring her mother’s Lebanese stuffed grape leaves on Christmas, Cuban black beans after school with her best friend, and Baja-style fish tacos at the Redondo Beach pier all summer long. While earning her degree in Film and Latin American Studies at the University of San Francisco, she became deeply interested and involved in the farm-to-table movement and the depth and breadth of food culture she discovered in the city and while traveling in Latin America and throughout the world. Giselle moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2011 and formalized her video production business to specialize in food culture and agriculture. After years of capturing food stories, she stepped out from behind the lens and launched Quincho, a series of culturally inspired pop-up dinners in Hood River, Oregon, where she lives. Giselle has and continues to travel extensively and intentionally, perpetually motivated by the certain discovery of new food cultures, inherited techniques, and beautiful meals. Joining the Gastronomy program at BU is a dream realized for Giselle and she is truly looking forward to connecting with fellow food enthusiasts, expanding her knowledge and skill set, and discovering new ways to grow and define her business. Also, great dinner parties.
Christine Rogers, from Atherton, California, just graduated from Stanford where she earned a BA in Classics (Ancient History). She has been passionate about food and cooking since she was a little girl. She was always in the kitchen baking with her best friend or making special dinners for her family. As Christine grew up, her love of food remained a driving force in her life. When she decided to take a gap year after high school, Christine decided to pursue her love of food by attending several cooking schools in Europe, studying baking/pastry in Paris, interning at a winery to learn how wine was made, and interning at a local restaurant. In college, she interned for a local chef, helping her to test recipes, republish her cookbook, teach cooking classes, and fundraise for an online cooking TV show. Christine hopes to become a food writer, working for a food/food and wine magazine and writing her own cookbooks one day.
Paweethida Tanjasiri was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand where the food scene is very vibrant and lively. She graduated with a bachelors degree in Interior Architecture and worked as an interior designer for a little while. After that she decided to step into the magazine industry as a graphic designer and food photographer, where she had a chance to meet a lot of people in food and media industry. From that point, it inspired her a lot and she started to work as a freelance food stylist. She also interned at “The Jewels of New York” (a multidisciplinary studio based in Manhattan which is focused on food services) as a food stylist assistant in order to gain more knowledge and practical techniques for food styling.
After returning to Bangkok, she started to be a full-time food stylist and also started her own food business called “Meat & Bones” which takes inspiration from American BBQ culture. After she had been working in a food industry for years, both in food media and also running a restaurant, she decided to pursue her master degree in BU’s Gastronomy program to dig deeper in various aspects of food which will support her passion and career about food in the future.