Master of Gastronomy student
Working as a chef helped her realise the importance of food beyond nourishment, says Lavanya Basnet who came to AUT as an international student from India to study a Master of Gastronomy.
“I’ve been working as a chef for six years, and during this period I realised that food acts as an ambassador for different cultures, communities, identity and much more.
“My interest in understanding food from different perspectives – other than cooking – led me to enrol in a Master of Gastronomy. When I researched my study options, I compared different universities in the world and saw that AUT offered the best study modules for gastronomy.”
Expecting to complete her degree later this year, Lavanya already has a good idea what she wants to do next.
“I’d like to work in an organisation that promotes sustainability and ethical practices through food and dining. I had a bit of an Aha! moment when I was studying the principles of gastronomy and realised that I want to work towards designing immersive food experiences that are also sustainable and environmentally friendly.”
She would highly recommend the Master of Gastronomy to other students, Lavanya says.
“This programme helps you explore and understand food beyond the kitchen, opening doors to many different opportunities other than food and beverage services. I’ve enjoyed my classes, and appreciated that the academic staff engaged every student and encouraged us to think outside the box.”
Studying during the global COVID-19 pandemic has had its challenges, she admits.
“The year 2020 was the biggest challenge for students all over the world. However, AUT has supported us throughout this, and created alternative online teaching and learning approaches so that we could continue our studies with minimal interruption.”
Layers of meaning
One highlight of Lavanya’s studies was the research dissertation that is at the heart of the Master of Gastronomy.
“In my research – The Curry Bunch: A semiotic exploration – I studied two canvas paintings by Auckland artist Bepen Bhana through the perspectives of art and semiotics to explore Indian history and Indian identity.
“I explore multiple layers of meaning through signs and symbols within the Indian subcontinent and North America. Within that merger are historically embedded notions of the British Raj, colonialism and imperialism, which I suggest holds relevance today within a revised version of imperialism; American Imperialism.”
Lavanya’s research was supervised by Dr Lindsay Neil AUT’s School of Hospitality and Tourism.