Ask the students in the Master of Arts in Gastronomy program at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET), and you will discover that the imagination is the only limit to an abundance of rewarding career opportunities in the field of gastronomy—aka food studies. The students of gastronomy at BU MET are an ambitious, engaged group of innovators, scholars, thinkers, and practitioners driven by a singular passion for food—or, more specifically, the diverse challenges, issues, questions, interests, concerns, and curiosities that are inherent in humans and their relationship to sustenance.

In the wake of a pandemic that changed the food industry, the decade ahead is a critical time for those devoted to the study of food. The effect of COVID-19 on the food industry has been devastating (read what restaurateur Fernanda Tapia (MET’09) and other BU alumni have to say on the survival of Boston’s restaurant scene in BU Today)—but these challenges also fuel innovation and new approaches to food delivery and supply chains, adjustments to city planning, or a rise in sustainable urban agriculture.

Opportunities in gastronomy continue to proliferate, and BU MET’s Gastronomy master’s degree program prepares graduates who are insightful, adaptable, and creative. BU’s Gastronomy alumni hold positions in academia, food writing and publications, media and communications, policy, tourism, marketing, food enterprise and distribution, and many other areas. Their range of professions and endeavors is as unusual, exciting, and diverse as they come.

“Many people come into this program who are already working in food, to expand their understanding of what they’re doing and how it fits into the world,” says Dr. Megan Elias, associate professor of the practice and director of the Gastronomy master’s degree program at BU. “It’s professional development. But we also get career changers. We have someone who’s been an accountant for a long time, but realized she’s always been curious about food. She just wants to pursue that. Maybe it’ll lead her back into accounting in a food business, or maybe she’ll become a food writer. The outcomes for gastronomy graduates are diverse—and some are probably even going to invent careers, which is fun to think about!”

Food Business Incubation Specialist

For instance, what about “food business incubation specialist”? That was the role that Natalie Shmulik (MET’13) invented for herself as a graduate of the Gastronomy master’s program at BU MET. “For many of us in this program, the careers we want don’t even exist yet,” asserts Ms. Shmulik. “When I was a student, I didn’t know what ‘food business incubation’ was. I had to go out there and create the position.”

Today, Shmulik is CEO at The Hatchery Chicago. As she explains in a 2017 interview with Forbes magazine, “As an incubator, we work with companies at every stage. We’ll work with people who are just playing around with the idea of starting a food business. They may be career changers and don’t know what it takes to start a food business, or just new to the field. We’re there to tell them: here’s the certification you need, here’s the documents you need, here’s what to consider, here’s the primary investment.”

A regular contributor to Food Business News, Shmulik was featured in the Chicago Tribune’s 10 Business People to Watch in 2020 and received the Specialty Food Association’s award for leadership in vision.

Ice Cream Flavor Designer

Hannah SpiegelmanAlumna Hannah Spiegelman (MET’20) converts “inedible stories into comestible pieces of art.” Her blog, A Sweet History, is dedicated to documenting her journey to revisit and re-evaluate historical figures as a creative springboard for—believe it or not—small-batch ice cream flavors, showcased with the expert presentation you’d expect from a food publishing professional.

“For three years, I have been designing and producing ice cream flavors inspired by historical figures, events, places, art, literature, and myths as a vehicle for unconventional learning,” Ms. Spiegelman writes on her blog website. “Through the medium of ice cream, I teach people forgotten, neglected, and skewed histories and thus demystify common misconceptions. Each flavor is accompanied by extensive historical research and demonstrates how food as art can communicate complicated stories, educate in innovative ways, and spark both discussion and pleasure.”

With names like “Esther X Vashti” (purple carrot cardamom ice cream with apricot wine swirl topped in gold leaf), “Agatha Christie” (black coffee custard with ground cherry jam and cumin date syrup), and “Garden of Earthly Delights” (named after the Hieronymus Bosch masterpiece, comprising apple and pomegranate molasses, strawberry rosé cordial, and parsley blackberry pop served with a charcoal Dutch pineappleade with absinthe spritz and a ghost pepper salt rim), Spiegelman’s creations combine food and history into unusual and mouthwatering concoctions. A Sweet History has been featured in Gastro Obscura and on National Public Radio. Read more about Hannah Spiegelman in Bostonia.

Media Studies Author and Academic

Emily Contois
Photo credit: KC Hysmith

Emily Contois (MET’13) is Chapman Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dr. Contois, who earned her PhD in American studies at Brown University, recently brought together her interests in food, the body, health, and identities in contemporary US media and popular culture to explore the gendered world of food production and consumption. The resulting book, Diners, Dudes and Diets: How Gender and Power Collide in Food Media and Culture (UNC Press, 2020), is garnering praise as an entertaining work that bridges scholarship and accessibility. In his review of the book, coeditor of The Bloomsbury Handbook of Food and Popular Culture Peter Naccarato says, “Contois’s focus on ‘dude masculinity’ is original and will make an important contribution to the fields of food studies and gender studies insofar as it complicates our understanding of the gendering of food—its production, distribution, and consumption—food media, and cultural narratives around the idealized male and female body and dieting.” For more on the book and Contois’s insights into food, see the article in BU Today.

Director of Communications

Giselle Kennedy Lord (MET’18) is director of communications for Slow Food USA, a company with the mission to reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils, and waters that produce their food. In addition to freelance work as a video and digital media producer, Ms. Lord founded the Oregon-based business, Quincho, which partnered with local businesses, farmers, chefs, and community partners to create unique and memorable culinary immersion experiences. As a student in BU’s Gastronomy program, she was a recipient of a BU Women’s Guild Scholarship in 2017. The following year, based on academic standing and personal and professional recommendations, Lord was selected as the James Beard Foundation National Scholar Northwest—an honor that included a $20,000 award which she split between tuition at BU MET and fieldwork for her thesis—an examination of how people express home and identity through food and cooking, looking specifically at the Lebanese diaspora in Argentina and the Americas. You can learn more about Lord at

Cookbook Author

Jerrelle GuyThe same year she graduated with her master’s degree in Gastronomy, Jerrelle Guy (MET’18) published her debut cookbook, Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing (Page Street Publishing). The book, which was nominated for the 2019 James Beard Book Award in the Baking Category, is inspired by the stories and flavors of her Southern upbringing while presenting Ms. Guy’s own unique approach to recipes. Along with running a blog, Chocolate for Basil, Guy owns and operates her own food photography studio, EJC Studio, in downtown Dallas, Texas, while contributing recipes to the New York Times. You can read more about Jerrelle Guy’s journey in Bostonia.

Cannabis Edible Artisan

David Yusefzadeh (MET’18) transformed a valuable observation into a viable opportunity, and the cannabis industry is more decadent for it. Yusefzadeh owns Cloud Creamery, a Framingham, Massachusetts-based business specializing in high-end, cannabis-infused, frozen delights. Before he pivoted from managing other people’s establishments to launching his own cannabis industry business, Yusefzadeh took note that the burgeoning edible market was flush with junk food. It gave the experienced chef an idea—to create something with an appeal to devoted foodies looking for an infusion of sensory elegance into their cannabis oil-infused comestibles.

He started with gourmet ice cream. The Boston area’s first cannabis ice cream company to use sustainable and local produce, Cloud Creamery distributes to dispensaries across Massachusetts, offering varieties like mango yuzu sorbet, Tanzanian vanilla, and dark chocolate truffle. With plans to branch out into other gourmet-quality edibles through his Plant Jam brand, Yusefzadeh has found the sweet spot for his business.

“The whole basis of our company is to deliver a real experience and create something you actually want to eat,” Yusefzadeh says to the Boston Globe, “Not just, ‘OK, I guess I have to get my 5 milligrams by choking this down.’” Read more about Yusefzadeh and Cloud Creamery in the Boston Globe, and be sure to check out our discussion with him in episode 7 of the BU Gastronomy program podcast Food &.

Additional Examples of Gastronomy Jobs

Gastronomy program alumni have gone on to hold the following positions (to name a few):

  • Associate Chef Instructor, Johnson & Wales University
  • Associate Editor, America’s Test Kitchen
  • Associate Editor, The Pioneer Woman and Food Network Magazines
  • Associate Professor of Hospitality, University of Georgia
  • Brand and Product Manager, Food Tours at Intrepid Travel
  • Brand Operations Manager, the HIVE at PepsiCo
  • Chef Instructor, Oceana Cruises
  • Corporate Sommelier, Legal Sea Foods
  • Culinary Product Developer, Amazon
  • Director of Boston University Programs in Food & Wine
  • Director of Nutrition at Oldways Trust
  • Director of Operations, Culture Brewing Co
  • Editor-in-Chief at culture: the word on cheese
  • Editorial Director, Clean Plates OmniMedia
  • Enterprise Sustainability Manager, Aramark
  • Executive Producer, Whetstone Media
  • Lecturer, Food and Beverage, Cornell University
  • Managing Editor, Foodal
  • National Sales Manager, Georgia Nut Company
  • Product Manager, America’s Test Kitchen
  • Senior Advocacy and Collaborations Advisor, Oxfam America
  • Senior Editor,
  • Senior Managing Editor and Trendologist at Datassential
  • Vice President of Academic Affairs and Operations, New England Culinary Institute
  • Wine Columnist, Boston Globe

For information related to current Gastronomy program events at BU, employment opportunities, and student activities, you can follow the program’s social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. Details about upcoming events, as well as examples of student work, can also be found on the Gastronomy program’s student blog.