Interview with a Gastronomist, Part 2

We are back once again, here with the continued interview of my culinary school professor of gastronomy, Beth Forrest. She has been kind enough to answer a few of my questions about her life, and her love of food and cuisine. Let us continue…

Still on that topic from before, do you have a favorite cuisine?

I’ve enjoyed food wherever I’ve gone, but I probably tend to like cuisines that use butter and cream! Perhaps I’m some long, lost relative of Fernand Point who said, “butter butter, give me butter, always butter.” I remember the food in Turkey being exceptional, as well.

What do you think is the moment that defines your career?

I don’t think there is/has been a moment that defines my career. I think it has been a delightful and slowly unfolding journey.

What brought you to the Culinary Institute of America?

The chance to teach full time and teach about food. It is a rare opportunity. There is also an undeniable energy at the school that is unmatched.

Since you’ve been here, how do you feel that you keep your lessons fresh, and intuitive?

Well, I’m still new here, so I’m figuring out what works with students. Each class is particular, so the dynamics of the students will change a class. In my first year here, I’m teaching three different classes — Intro. to Gastronomy, Food and Culture, and History and Culture of Europe, so preparation for any of those classes will also inform how I teach my other classes. Finally, interacting with students, other faculty or doing research for my dissertation will also change how I approach questions/topics in Intro. to Gastronomy.

Where do you think cooking will go from here into the future?

I’m not sure, but excited to see! We are at a fascinating crossroad. Farm-to-table, Avant-Garde and the culturally-dominant agro-industrial foods/cooking are competing with each other. What values will be deemed most important to our culture — environment or price or the rejection of (neither or) both through avant-garde is something that is being contested in haute cuisine. How it is both disseminated and embraced by the main stream is yet to be decided.

Ah, unfortunately, our time with Professor Forrest is up, but look towards next week for the conclusion to our interview, where she delves into her favorite restaurants and her advice for future chefs of tomorrow. Also, look for my follow-up article to Picky Eaters, where we take our conversation about aversion and taboo to another level.