- Why did you want to attend UNISG?
I always wanted to get a master's degree, but when I finished my undergrad in Import/Export - International Trade I knew I didn't want an MBA or any job I could get with my degree. I knew grad school was when you specialized, but didn't know what I wanted to specialize in. So I did, what my parents always taught us to, figure out how to get paid for our passion. So I took to Google, "food" "masters" and "Italy". I found UNISG and was in love in seconds. Everything about it was what I wanted, it was magical. All I wanted was to get to go there for a year, so I did everything I could to get in!
- What was your most rewarding experience here at UNISG?
That question is completely unanswerable. If UNISG taught me anything it was to ask questions about general or subjective words. Think, "sustainable sourcing" or "ethical" or "farm raised". I'd have to include "rewarding" there as well. Every day there was something. From dinner and wine at your Indian friend's house that leads to asking if you can be their plus 1 at their friends wedding, to foraging in the mountains of Japan, or representing the United States at the G7 Agricultural Summit. There is no picking the best part. The beauty of the UNISG experience is the sum of its parts.
- What was your biggest challenge at UNISG?
At UNISG, I felt incredibly undeserving. I was not a chef, or food science major. I never worked in a restaurant. I don't even really love to cook, I simply loved to eat. Food is my greatest love of my life. The challenge was catching up to everyone else's food intelligence. I think it actually ended up making me more appreciative of every bite. It was hard personally to feel unprepared but at graduation day, I had learned more than I ever expected.
- How did UNISG help get you where you are today?
UNISG brought clarity to what my personal impact on the food world would be and how I could positively impact it. When I started at UNISG, I thought I just wanted to travel and write about food around the world. The goal was to bring people who weren't the same to a table to engage in civil discourse. Over the course of the year, I realized that I had the opportunity to not just enjoy food, but have an impact on the lives of those that created it. I feel in love with the plight and dedication of the producer, and found myself committed to sharing those stories and my passion with anyone who would listen. It's what turned my onto Fair Trade USA. We are a third-party certification of sustainable and ethical trade. I get to work every single day with brands, large and small, that want to improve the livelihoods of more than 900K farmers and workers in 58 countries around the world.
- Where was your internship and what was your biggest learning experience during that time?
I spent my internship with Compass Group on their Microsoft account. I served the culinary team as their Slow Food expert as they brought the program to their food service on campus. The biggest learning experience was truly understanding that the world can change for the better with hard work and great people. Here I was on one of the largest (and the first) tech campuses in the world, we fed more than 1 million meals a day in 150+ food establishments on our 100 acre campus. The culinary team was dedicated to enacting sustainable practices there, hydroponic farm, all produce from less than 100 food miles, cafes transitioning to being zero waste, all soups and stocks created from scratch, the list goes on and on. After all that work happening in less than 4 years, they brought me in to create a strategy for bringing the principles of Slow Food to that campus. This is how movements take form, do something new and do it well, then scream about it from the mountaintops. In the USA, that translates to everyone trying to one up you!
- If you had one piece of advice for current students, what would it be?
Drink it in every single day. Make sure to take time to really look at what you are doing at UNISG everyday. You hang out with people from 80+ countries, eat INCREDIBLE food all day (usually mandated for class) in a castle in Italy. You are living a literal dream, don't forget that and more importantly, don't waste it. Say yes to every dinner. Try every food. Read every book. Be friends with everyone. Join every club and gathering you can. Your life is a little ridiculous right now. It will be over before you know it, and you will look back thinking that this was the best time of your life. Because odd are, it is.
- What was your favorite meal at the Academic Table?
Favorite day was when somehow on my birthday, they served all my favorites. Agnolotti di Plin, some delicious roasted veggies and Piedmontese beef (no idea what really was in it or what it was called), and tiramisu. No idea who was cooking, or why each were important that day. All I remember is it being a meal that every bite you stop, roll your eyes, sigh, and probably dance a little bit in your seat. Happy 24th birthday to me. Bonus: The craziest day at the mensa was the day the Peruvian chef was there. It was during June or July, so we were all sitting outside. I got the pasta, but a lot of my friends got the soup. Suddenly my friend makes some comment about summer and ants, then asks if they eat gigantic ants in Peru. We thought a carpenter ant had crawled into this bowl, that is until we found about 30 more. ;)