So, what the hell is a Masters of Food Studies?

giphy2

Last week, I was accepted into NYU’s Masters of Food Studies program, starting Fall 2017. I’ll be going part time (not quitting my job) and it will take me anywhere from two to three years to complete. Ever since I shared the news, many people are confused about what the hell I’ll be doing, so I wanted to help answer some of the most common questions I’ve received below:

Q: Will you be bringing me soufflés?
A: No. This is not a culinary degree. Cooking is not part of the curriculum, although I’m sure I’ll be cooking more on my own due to being a poor grad student.

souffle

Q: So if you’re not bringing me soufflés, what will you be doing?
A: According to NYU, studying “the ways in which individuals, communities, and societies produce, distribute, and consume food”.

Q: Okay, that’s pretty vague. Can you be more specific?
A: Gladly. The program has three suggested tracks: Media & Cultural Analysis, Policy & Advocacy, and Business & Social Entrepreneurship. I’m most interested in the latter, but I plan to take classes across all areas.

Q: What kind of classes?
A: Some core courses include Food & Culture, Food Policy & Politics, and Nutrition in Food Studies. Within the Business & Social Entrepreneurship track, I’ll take things like Economics of Food: Consumer Behaviors and Food Entrepreneurship. I’ll also be taking some of my courses at the NYU Stern School of Business like Financial Accounting and Foundations of Social Entrepreneurship.

giphy

Q: But it’s not an MBA? Or a JD? Or an MD? Wait, what’s the point of this? What does someone do after they get this degree?
A: Nope, it’s not one of the more common graduate degrees that many of my friends and colleagues have gone on to obtain. Kudos to them, but if you’ve been reading this blog or know me at all, you know that food is my passion and this is where I belong.

People who graduate from the program go into a lot of different fields like food writing, food marketing, supply chain management, operations, nonprofit work, advocacy, and entrepreneurial food ventures.

Q: What do YOU want to do after you get this degree?
A: Great question. Right now, I’m really interested in reducing food waste, urban farming, and food policy. There’s a hell of a lot of problems in the US food system, and I know I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s out there. I’m sure my interests will change 100 times as I learn more about the issues and what I can do to help solve them.

Q: Cool. Thanks for the clarifications.
A: giphy1

 

A Love Letter to Cooking Your Own Damn Food

November 9th, 2016 was a day few Americans will ever forget. And now we’re all looking for ways to feel less helpless, less at the whim of a government that doesn’t seem to share any of the values of the majority of its constituents. We can and should protest, write letters, make phone calls, run for office, and donate to the charities that need us to keep fighting. But sometimes it feels overwhelming. Every day spent not doing something to resist the new administration feels wasted. And you get deeper and deeper into a shame spiral about your inaction, which makes you do less, and then you feel guilty again, and YADA YADA you get the picture.

So here’s a radical idea if you’re feeling like you’re not in control of your destiny:

COOK YOUR OWN DAMN FOOD BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING EMPOWERING.

giphy

Queen Bey agrees.

Make choices. Go to a farmer’s market and speak to the growers about their work. Take home some ugly produce because you’re not shallow – you care about what’s ON THE INSIDE. Buy organic meat at the supermarket. Yes, it’s more expensive, but you vote with your dollars. Organic, local farmers are going to need our help when agriculture gets even more deregulated and garbage meat filled with hormones and poison floods the market. Get a beautiful cookbook, a real one, in print, written by a person that cares about their work and their environment. (Might I suggest Small Victories by Julia Turshen who is a true boss?)

img_0219

My most prized possession

Spend a day figuring out an ambitious recipe. Roast a whole fucking chicken. Make something slowly with ingredients you’ve never used, like this Slow Cooker Coconut Lemongrass Chicken (pictured below). Prove to yourself that you are an effective human, and even if the whole world goes up in flames, you have the control to create something beautiful and nourishing for you and your loved ones.

EFBCDF87-B7DF-4697-BE30-02DC1F6FF9A8.jpg

Did you know you’re supposed to smack the shit out of lemongrass before you use it to release the oils?

This is what I’ve done so far. But I know my knowledge of the food issues affecting our country – food waste, industrialized agriculture, the cost of healthy food, food deserts, unfair wages, and many more – is limited. So I’ve applied to the Masters of Food Studies program at NYU, and G-d willing, I’ll be starting part-time in the fall.

Moving forward, this blog will have a bit more substance. It’ll still be snarky and weird and sometimes crude, but there’s a time and place for lists of the 22 Best New Cantaloupe Dishes of January 2017 (maybe?), and this isn’t it.

The universe might keep throwing 🍆 at us, but let’s not be afraid to make a damn good 🍆 parm.

518b01dd-ee73-4b2e-aed3-e8e9aefd2c88

Eggplant, not dicks, you sicko.

Grilled Cheese and Entrepreneuship: My article in the Cornell Alumni Magazine

In an unbelievable stroke of luck, the Cornell Alumni Magazine let me write an article about my favorite thing in the world: grilled cheese. Spencer Rubin ’08, owner of Melt Shop, spoke with me about his adventures in cheese grilling and what it takes to start a fast casual empire. This is what it looks like in print in the July/August issue, out now:

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 8.56.01 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 8

You can read the full article online here: Earl of Sandwich

HELLO I’M WRITING AGAIN!

For my first published article since October, click here for a review of Brod Kitchen’s smorrebrod – open faced Danish sweet and savory sandwiches. They didn’t have as much cheese as I like but I made an exception because this one has Nutella, hazelnuts, dates, and mint.

nuttela

Now that I’m no longer working my day job in food, I need to get my fix elsewhere, so expect more of these soon.

A Fried Oreo and A Life Change

This is a tough one to write.

After some of the most wonderful times with the most extraordinary people, today is my last day at Cater2.me. I’m moving to a really awesome opportunity at CommonBond, a start-up that is changing the way grad students get and pay their student loans. My role will be helping borrowers make sense of the system, so instead of making people happy with meals, I’ll be making them happy with large amounts of money, which some people like even more than food!

Even though this is a step forward for my career, I’m incredibly sad to be leaving behind such an amazing group of people. And even more than the people, I’ll miss all the free food.

JUST KIDDING JUST KIDDING PEOPLE > FOOD

For my final days, one of my favorite catering managers, Jason from Papaya King (yes, that Papaya King!), came by with farewell fried oreos, because there’s no better way to say goodbye than with obscene carnival cuisine.

picstitch

That is a FRIED STRAWBERRY OREO.

Thankfully, my new company uses Cater2.me’s services, so I’ll still be getting awesome lunches once a week. I’ll keep posting pics and writing about ludicrous food news and trends, so stay tuned.

To the next adventure!

The 10 Most Insane Things At Dominique Ansel’s Wonderland Party

This weekend I attended Dominique Ansel’s Wonderland Party, a 3 hour dessert buffet put on by the NYC Wine and Food Festival. I went by myself, brought a fancy borrowed camera, and did my best to pretend I knew what I was doing. After dropping several pastries on myself, sipping huckleberry kombucha from a tiny bottle that said “Drink Me”, and interviewing Mr. Ansel the Cronut King himself, I produced this article for the Village Voice:

The 10 Most Insane Things at Dominique Ansel’s Wonderland Party

I also met Zac Young from Top Chef Just Desserts, who was super fabulous and definitely wins the award for most edible glitter on one table.

FullSizeRender