Food Studies Fridays: Interview 1 – Food Network Exec

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Welcome to the inaugural post of Food Studies Fridays! Every Friday for the next 10 weeks, I’ll be posting an interview with someone who works in the food industry as part of a final class project. (Yes, I’m in school, in case you missed that announcement. More info on that here.)

We’re going to kick it off this week with a very special guest from Food Network. Food media is a large part of my graduate program as many students go on to work at media outlets like Food and Wine Magazine, Food52, and Heritage Radio Network.

Without further ado, meet Madeline Langlieb, Programming and Development Executive at Food Network!

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So I’m cheating a little bit because Madeline is one of my best friends. I’ve had the privilege of tagging along with her to many awesome food events. Here I am mooching off her in the VIP section of the Big Apple BBQ this summer:

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In addition to keeping me well fed, Madeline is the Executive in Charge of Production for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, which was nominated for an Emmy this summer. Go Mads!

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Q: How long have you worked at Food Network?
A: 5.5 years.

Q: How did you end up there?
A: My first job at a talent agency led me to my current company. I previously worked with talent and production companies that star in and create shows for Food Network. I was previously on the selling side, and now I get pitched shows and work towards getting them on TV.

Q: What are a few of the major challenges in your industry?
A: There are so many ways to get content, especially food based content. Be it on linear tv, on Instagram, blogs, Snapchat, Facebook, there seems to be more and more options for food focused content. Keeping up with trends and staying relevant is always top of mind. We try to create compelling shows that will entertain and inform our viewers.

Q: What are a few of the major pleasures in your work or industry?
A: A lot of people say I have the best job in the world, and I wouldn’t say that they are wrong. I get to work for a beloved network, and make entertainment for a living. I also get to eat and drink some pretty bomb stuff.

Q: What’s the most bomb thing you’ve eaten recently?
A: Milk ice cream with honey over freeze dried honeycomb from The NoMad!

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Actual footage of me right now.

Q: What skills do you use to be successful at work?
A: It all boils down to having great relationships, creativity, and being able to execute ideas.

Q: If there was one thing you could change about your work, what would that be?
A: I wish there were more hours in the day, both to produce new shows and to eat more food!

Thanks Madeline for being Interview #1! Tune in next week where I talk to a food entrepreneur who is disrupting pasta.

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

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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.

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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.

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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