Instructors and Staff

Our multidisciplinary program welcomes a wide variety of scholars and working professionals as instructors each semester. Most teach in person, while others enrich the offerings of the Gastronomy program through blended online courses. The list below represents recent and coming semesters.


KAREN METHENY, PhD, Interim Faculty Coordinator

Karen Metheny is Interim Faculty Coordinator and Full-Time Lecturer for the Gastronomy program and Visiting Researcher in the Department of Archaeology at Boston University. She is co-editor with Mary Beaudry of the two-volume Archaeology of Food: An Encyclopedia (Rowman & Littlefield 2015), the first reference work devoted to the study of food and foodways through archaeology. With Mary Beaudry, she will serve as co-editor for a new book series on the archaeology of food for the University of Alabama Press. Metheny recently served as guest editor and contributor to a volume on the archaeological study of food in Northeast Historical Archaeology (2014). Her interest in American historical foodways incorporates the study and recreation of period recipes and cooking methods; food and sensory engagement in interpretive history programs; and the use of food mapping and other visualization techniques to explore the relationships between people and food in past and contemporary societies. Metheny received Metropolitan College’s Chadwick Fellowship in 2015-16 for her on-going study of the cultural significance of maize in colonial New England.

Metheny teaches Introduction to Gastronomy: Theory and Methodology (ML 701), Anthropology of Food (ML 641), Archaeology of Food in Ancient Times (ML 611), Culture and Cuisine: New England (ML 638), Food and Society (ML 712), and two special topic courses (ML 610): Cookbooks and History, and Food and Public History.


BeaudryMary Beaudry is Professor of Archaeology, Anthropology, and Gastronomy at Boston University. Her food-related research interests involve the archaeology of historical households and homelots. Beaudry’s current field projects include investigations at several historical home sites in Massachusetts and at the Colonial William Carr Estate at Little Bay, Montserrat, West Indies.

Beaudry teaches Pots and Pans: Material Culture of Cookery and Dining  (ML 612).


Sandy Block is a certified Master of Wine (one of only 312 in the world, and one of two MWs teaching in our Wine Studies program). He is Vice President of Beverage Operations for Legal Seafoods. He is the Wine Editor for The Improper Bostonian, and he is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Cheers Magazine, the Executive Symposium Committee of Sante Magazine, and the Executive Board of Boston University’s Elizabeth Bishop Wine Resource Center.

Block teaches History of Wine (ML 632) in the Gastronomy program. In the Wine Studies program, he teaches Levels 1 and 2 (ML 651 and 652) and is involved with Levels 3 and 4 (ML 653 and 654).

Netta Davis works for Harvard University’s Gutman Library and is a Gastronomy lecturer at Boston University. She holds a Master of Arts in American Studies from BU.

Davis teaches Experiencing Food Through the Senses (ML 715), and, Culture and Cuisine of New England (ML 638) and  Wild and Foraged Foods (ML 625).


Ihsan Gurdal is the owner of Formaggio Kitchen, one of the top gourmet food retailers in the country. The Cambridge institution stocks artisan cheeses from around the world, imported and house-cured meats, and specialty grocery items. Since taking ownership of the store in 1992, Gurdal has worked extensively with cheese makers and affineurs throughout the U.S. and Europe. His efforts support agricultural artisans and have brought many rare and unique cheeses into his shop.

Gurdal teaches Artisan Cheeses of the World (ML 705).

Ellen Messer is an anthropologist with faculty affiliations at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Research and Policy. Her research interests include cross-cultural perspectives on human right to food; biocultural determinants of food and nutrition intake; sustainable food systems (with special emphasis on the roles of NGOs); impacts of agrobiotechnology on hunger; and cultural history of nutrition, agriculture, food science. She is the author/co-author of several books on food policy, including Who’s Hungry? And How Do We Know?: Food Shortage, Poverty and Deprivation (United Nations Free Press, 1998).

Messer teaches Food Policy and Food Systems (ML 720), US Food Policy and Culture (ML 721), and  Food Values: Local to Global Food Policy, Practice, and Performance (ML 719).


Bill Nesto is a certified Master of Wine (one of about 350 in the world, and one of two MWs teaching in our Wine Studies program). He is a Senior Lecturer teaching both in the Gastronomy program and for the School of Hospitality Administration at Boston University. He speaks regularly at and judges wine events in the US and Europe. He co-authored The World of Sicilian Wine, published by the University of California Press (March 2013) and Chianti Classico: The Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, published by the University of California Press (September 2016).

Bill Nesto teaches Wine Studies Level 1 (ML 651), Level 2 (ML 652), Level 3 (ML 653), and Level 4 (ML 654).


Karen Pepper studied history at the University of California, Berkeley (A.B.); history of science at San Francisco State University (M.A.); microbiology at the University of Paris (Ph.D.); and creative writing at Bennington College (M.F.A.). She briefly worked as a substantive editor at Gastronomica. She currently teaches scientific writing at M.I.T. and Children’s Hospital and first-year college writing at Boston University (Source and Sorcery:  All about Food). She presented “Hot Sausage and Mustard:  Putting Food Studies on the Undergraduate Menu” at the 2011 meeting of the American Association of University Professors, and she loves her courses in the Gastronomy Program.

Pepper teaches the Gastronomy Writing Workshop, as well as special topics, including The Big Fat Fat Controversy;  Reading & Writing the Food Memoir; and Approaches to Feeding Children.


phillipsSarah Phillips is an Associate Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies. She received her Ph.D. from the History Department at Boston University in 2004 and spent five years as an assistant professor at Columbia University before returning to BU. She is the author of This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America, and the New Deal, and co-author of The Kitchen Debate and Cold War Consumer Politics. Her current book project, The Price of Plenty: From Farm to Food Politics in Postwar America, examines the domestic politics sustaining the massive farm surpluses of the post-World War II era that established the United States as the predominant and most problematic of the state actors in the international food regime.

Prof. Phillips teaches Agricultural History (ML 713).


Jonathan Ribner is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Admissions in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Boston University. A specialist in European painting and sculpture of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Professor Ribner has published on the art of France and England in relation to the history of politics, law, literature, religion, and public health. Currently researching affinities between national traditions of art and gastronomy, he is the author of Broken Tablets: The Cult of the Law in French Art from David to Delacroix (University of California Press, 1993).

Prof. Ribner teaches Art and Food (ML 672).


Barbara Rotger, MLA
Barbara Rotger headshotBarbara Rotger is Academic Program Manager for the MLA in Gastronomy and Food Studies Certificate program. She is a graduate of the Gastronomy program and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Russian Studies.  Rotger is an avid collector of recipes boxes, scrapbooks and manuscript collections. Her master’s thesis, entitled “How to Read a Recipe Box: A Scholar’s Guide to Working with Personal Recipe Collections,” proposes a methodology for analyzing these collections as historical, cultural and gendered artifacts.


Valerie Ryan is a food scientist and food studies scholar. As a graduate of the program, she holds a Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy and is certified in Culinary Arts; her Bachelor of Science is in Food and Nutrition, with a concentration in Food Chemistry. As a food scientist, she has worked for both government and industry in the areas of research and development; ingredient applications; chemical, nutritional, and sensory analysis; and product innovation. Ryan has focused her food studies research on the impact of taste preference on human evolution.

Ryan teaches a special topics course titled: The Science of Food and Cooking.


merry_whiteMerry White is Professor of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, with specialties in Japanese studies, in food, and in travel. A caterer before she entered graduate school, she also wrote two cookbooks, one of which, first published in the mid 1970s, has recently been republished by Princeton University Press. Her most recent publication is Coffee Life in Japan which keeps her on the road and in cafes on book tours. The many meanings of “work” in food, from domestic to artisanal to industrial, is her next Japan-based research project.

Prof. White teaches Food, Culture, and Society (ML 688).