Ashley Lopes grew up in San Francisco, California and earned her undergraduate degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management at New York University. As a food enthusiast with a bottomless stomach for carbs, she enjoys watching cooking shows and making food from scratch. While at NYU, Ashley wrote and edited content for culinary magazines and interned in restaurant kitchens and at the Institute of Culinary Education. Most memorably, she tested and evaluated kitchen appliances as a test kitchen intern at Good Housekeeping Magazine.
After graduating, Ashley worked at a startup in Cape Town, South Africa, before directing her passion for travel to a full-time career at TripAdvisor. Since then, she’s traveled extensively and seen first-hand how food and culture intersect. Most recently, she ventured on a solo backpacking trip through the vibrant food scenes of Southeast Asia and through the spectacular mountains and fjords of New Zealand.
Ashley is excited to move to Boston and join the Gastronomy Program at BU, where she aims to combine her love of food with writing and travel. She looks forward to studying food on a deeper level and connecting with like-minded foodies. Her goal is to pave a meaningful and colorful career in food publishing and culinary tourism.
Norma Tentori’s fascination with food has been kindled from a young age in Central America where she grew up constantly involved in the kitchen during meal preparation, thanks in great part to her Hispanic and Italian family’s passion, appreciation, interest and enticing diversity in food culture. From there, she called Boston home as she completed her BSBA this past spring in Business Administration with a minor in Nutrition at Simmons College.
As her next career move, she wants to deepen her knowledge in a field that is perfectly aligned with her interest in food, its industry and its prospects in business. She was thrilled to encounter that there is such a program at BU, combining graduate studies in gastronomy and entrepreneurship, right in the city that she has always loved. Norma is confident that this master will satisfy her craving for expertise in gastronomy, as well as provide her with the skills required to intertwine this expertise with brand building and marketing success with a focus in the food / beverage industry.
Ariana Gunderson grew up in the Boston area and looks forward to returning for her Gastronomy MLA at BU. After graduating with a BA in Egyptology from Brown University, Ariana biked to brunch as often as possible while working in DC as a strategy consultant. She then completed a yearlong State Department fellowship in Germany, studying anthropology and excavating a medieval castle. Most recently, Ariana lived in Mexico City, where she continued her consulting work and ate many a tamal. While at BU, Ariana hopes to study refugee and migrant foodways.
Originally from a small bilingual mill town in Northern Maine on the border of French-speaking Canada, Justine Martin inherited her deep love of food and bringing people together from her grandmother. Over seemingly endless buffets of food at countless holidays, family gatherings, and town celebrations, she saw how her grandmother’s French Acadian cooking brought people from all walks of life together.
It was this upbringing and her relationship with her grandmother that first sparked her interest in the powerful role food plays in our lives and in our interactions with others—next door and around the globe. Now, Justine spends nearly all of her spare time cooking, eating, researching, and talking about food and is excited to join the Gastronomy program this fall to connect with others who share her passion. In bringing together her love of food, writing, and culture, she seeks to contribute to the world of food writing and journalism in a unique and meaningful way.
Justine earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Fort Kent and spent two years as a 2nd grade and health teacher in Southern Maine. She then moved to the Boston area, where she works as a university development writer and lives with her husband and two fur balls: Ambrose, the moody yet secretly affectionate cat, and Mabel, the crazy-pants clown of a Boston Terrier.
Meghan Russell grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and went to Penn State University,graduating with a degree in History. Since then she has lived in Washington D.C. and Boston working in consulting and technology.
Meghan always enjoyed helping in the kitchen and going to the grocery store and famers market with her mom growing up, but her passion for food really took off after graduating college. After years of cooking for friends and family, she started her own blog (vegetableway.com) a few years ago as a way and is excited to get back to posting on it more regularly.
As a way to get more involved in food advocacy issues, she started volunteering at the Daily Table, a grocery store in Dorchester, MA. At BU Meghan plans to focus on policy and business, looking for ways to address food access issues and promote local, sustainable food choices through awareness and education.
Alex DiSchino is a first generation American from an Italian family who at a young age developed a love of food by spending hours in the kitchen with his Aunts and furthered his passion by working in multiple roles in restaurants (from line cook to waiter) before heading off to college. Originally from South Florida, Alex has been a Boston resident for the past 10 years ever since he moved to get his BSBA in Marketing from Northeastern University. Alex’s career has led him through roles where he has gained a strong background in consumer electronics and CPG food industries. With these skills in product marketing, development, and management Alex aims to continue to leverage his skills in developing commercially viable products but adjust his focus toward developing meaningful and successful food products or experiences. He sees the Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy program as a once in a lifetime opportunity to share his experiences with a community of likeminded individuals who have a common goal and love for food and it’s importance to our culture and society.
Christy Soojung Sung was born in Seoul, Korea. In May 2014 she completed a BA in International Relations with a concentration in Conflict Resolution at the George Washington University. From there, she worked at CJ as a business strategy analyst for 2 years. At CJ, she began to cultivate her career in the health and wellness industry and realized that her real interests were stemming from topics about food. She started talking about food and health on her Youtube channel that she started in college. As she continued to talk about food, she felt compelled to pursue a career in the food industry and wanted to learn more about it. When she found out about the Gastronomy program, she was eager to dive straight in.
She also has experience working for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for a year as a marketing officer, which is where she developed her passion for sustainable environments and systems.
Christy is interested in Food Policy and Food Business, but in general she is excited to absorb all topics that are related to food such as sustainable food systems, food trends and its history, how a food business works, and topics in nutrition. She is confident that this will be the start of the most exciting chapter of her life.
Kelli Smith was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. After a childhood spent in grandmother’s kitchens and watching more Rachel Ray than Rugrats, she developed a love for all things food (especially eating it).
During her time at Miami University working toward a BA in International Relations and Latin American Studies, she had the opportunity to study abroad with Semester at Sea. While visiting over thirty countries and taking a course on the Anthropology of Food, she realized this interest might be more than just a hobby.
With a Master’s in Gastronomy Kelli hopes to combine her passions of writing, travel and food into a career, how exactly? That’s still to be determined. Whether it be through a blog or magazine, her main goal in life is to fill her passport and fill her stomach at the same time.
Becca Berland is a self-proclaimed ice cream aficionado who was born and raised in Sylvania, Ohio. She attended the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and minors in French Studies and Religious Studies. During her four years at Pitt, Becca acted as Editorial Director of Pitt’s chapter of Spoon University, as well as a National Editorial Intern and Elite News Team Member for Spoon HQ in NYC. After she spent a summer interning for Delicious Israel, an Israeli culinary food tour company based out of Tel Aviv, Becca realized that pursuing a career in food media was basically inevitable.
Currently working out of Boston as a Social Media/Content Manger for one of the top fitness coaches in the country, Becca is thrilled to join the Gastronomy program at BU where she can connect with like-minded food enthusiasts (have we mentioned that she named her dog Basil?). Becca plans to hone in on her writing skills in hopes of one day becoming the editor of a food magazine.
Mollie Braen was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated with a BA in Art History in the spring of 2015 from the University of Denver and spent her final semester studying abroad at the University of Glasgow in Glasgow, Scotland. Mollie, an avid traveler, eater and cook, moved to Boston in 2015 to pursue work in the art and non-profit community. But her passion and true love was always food, wine and beer. Mollie will be pursuing her masters in gastronomy, concentrating on food policy and business. Her goal is to gain knowledge about the current and past agricultural climate in the United States and to use this comprehensive liberal arts degree to work within the progressing tech and biomedical fields to create healthier, more accessible, and organic produce and products for all. She currently lives in Cambridge with her very funny and mischievous cat, enjoys eating any and all cheeses and is excited to be back in school.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Carolyn Grillo moved to Boston to attend college. She graduated with a BS in Studio Art from Boston College and then attended culinary (pastry) school in Paris, France at Le Cordon Bleu. When Carolyn returned from Paris she worked as a baker at Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston for two years. Carolyn has been working at America’s Test Kitchen in the Tastings and Testings department for the last two years. Carolyn’s job affords her the opportunity to work in different areas of the company including both print and online content, television, and cookbooks. As time progresses Carolyn has become more interested in the business side of the food industry. Through this experience Carolyn hopes to expand her knowledge, challenge herself, and gain tools to progress in her career.
Swarnata Prabhu was born and raised in Mumbai, a city known for its culinary indulgence and abundance of savors. She believes her childhood had a huge impact and influence in her relationship with food, as there was a lot of cooking, eating and entertaining at home.
Swarnata earned her Bachelor’s in Management Studies from the University of Mumbai and then went on to pursue her graduate degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations at the University of Minnesota to attain an international perspective in her field. She worked for a few years as a human resource professional and then decided to take a break to spend time with her family. During this period, she not only reconnected with her hometown Mumbai, she also decided to pursue her passion. Swarnata started her home based baking venture in Mumbai and went on to learn pastry arts from finest pastry Chefs in India. She says her culinary journey has just started. Swarnata has worked in the pastry department of a five star hotel in India, mentored and taught culinary students, indulged in food photography and explored unusual food sources (protein packed bugs in Cambodia). She not only enjoys experiments in her kitchen but has utmost fun eating, exploring and learning about new foods.
Swarnata feels confident that the gastronomy program at Boston University will equip her with a fulfilling career in the ever changing and challenging food world. She wants to focus on food policy and communications to make an impact as a food advocate, chef and educator.