After apprenticing in the kitchen of a popular Brunswick restaurant this year, Samantha (Sammy) Shane ’13 will be attending a unique culinary arts program next year at Boston University.
Shane plans to earn a master of liberal arts in gastronomy, studying in a program co-founded by Jacques Pépin and Julia Child in the 1980s. “It’s really one of the only programs of its kind — since it offers both culinary arts and gastronomy — in the U.S.,” Shane said. Once there, she added she plans to concentrate in communications.
“Writing is my primary goal,” Shane said, adding that she feels strongly that in order to write about food well, one must be able to cook well, as well as be knowledgeable about food and the food industry. “Good food writers need back-of-house experience,” she stated.
In her first semester at B.U., Shane will study for her Certificate in the Culinary Arts, spending her mornings in lecture halls and her afternoons in the kitchen. After earning her certificate, the remainder of her education will be academic classes. The program offers a range of interesting classes, such as the Philosophy of Food, Archaeology of Food in Ancient Times, the Fundamentals of Wine, and Food Marketing. At Bowdoin, Shane is a history major and Spanish minor, and cooks dinner for her friends when she has the time.
Last year, to gain professional experience, Shane reached out to chef Cara Stadler, the chef-owner of Tao Restaurant, a relatively new restaurant in Brunswick that offers Asian dishes made with modern cooking techniques. Shane describes it as “upscale, new and exciting.”
Shane said she first met Stadler last May when she went to have dinner there and the chef came out to the dining room to chat up customers. She said she followed up with an email “to see if [Cara] would take someone under her wing.” This led to a meeting between the two, after which Shane “left with a Tao T-shirt.”
Shane started her apprenticeship in Tao’s kitchen last fall, working long hours two or three times a week. “I’d come in at 2 p.m. and stay until 11 p.m.,” Shane said.
Stadler, who said she loves to teach and welcomes apprentices in her kitchen, raved about Shane’s ability to quickly pick up new skills and to stay calm in a hectic situation. “She deals with high-stress situations beautifully,” Stadler said. “I wish she wanted to be a chef. She was magnificent.”
As she logged time and learned more, Shane said she graduated from the “cold line” to the “hot line,” becoming skilled in searing scallops, cooking up small plates of bacon and Brussels sprouts, sauteing vegetables and making soup stocks.
“I have learned the widest range of things,” Shane commented, from different knife techniques to how to cook pig’s feet. “I would have cringed at the sight before! But it’s interesting to take these things I would have thought as disgusting and turn them into culinary delicacies.”