Master of Gastronomy student
She has been interested in food and cooking since she was a child, says Crystal Chen who came to AUT as an international student from China to study a Master of Gastronomy.
“I’ve always enjoyed making different kinds of foods from other places and cultures. I’m also fascinated by the food habits and customs of different regions. The gastronomy programme perfectly fits this, and enables me to explore food and cultures.
“The first time I heard about AUT’s Master of Gastronomy was when I read an article written by a former gastronomy student on the Chinese social media channel WeChat. She shared her wonderful study experiences, including some detailed information about what they did in class, as well as her thoughts about the study themes and topics. I realised that was just what I wanted to study.”
Having come to AUT after a successful career in international business, Crystal has a clear idea how she see her next step.
“I hope to be involved in a job related to the global food trade or food marketing after completing my degree. I’d love to apply the cultural knowledge I’ve learnt by studying food to my everyday work.”
Eye-opening learning experiences
She wouldn’t hesitate to recommend AUT’s gastronomy programme to other students, Crystal says.
“The field of studying food is vast, and all the classes in the gastronomy programme are fascinating and super interesting. The close link between food, gastronomy and culture has made me realise the importance of what people eat over and above the nutritional benefit of food. Within a gastronomic worldview, food provides a window of opportunity, empowering us to understand the ways of an ethnic group and how through food people understand and interpret the world around them. Studying gastronomy has opened my mind.”
The teaching style of the academic staff has impressed her.
“The lecturers consistently deliver knowledge to us in interactive and creative ways, and they often introduce as many themes as possible on different aspects of food to broaden our knowledge. They then guide us to find the topics we’re interested in and want to explore in depth. I also appreciate that I can always quickly get support from our lecturers.”
Connections between food and culture
For her Master of Gastronomy research Crystal is exploring the cultural meaning of Xianmian noodles; a popular dish in China’s Fujian province.
“Xianmian noodles are a traditional wheat-based noodle commonly found in Fuzhou in the Fujian province in China. There, Xianmian noodles are regarded as a symbolic food that conveys information and expresses people’s shared values within ritual ceremonies, social activities and other special occasions.
“In considering those observations, I came to realise that exploring the cultural and symbolic meanings of Xianmian noodles offers valuable and unique insights into the regional culture of Fuzhou.”
Crystal’s master’s degree research is being supervised by Dr Lindsay Neill from AUT’s School of Hospitality and Tourism.