Students from Cynthia Ingol's food industry course toured Cambridge to gain behind-the-scenes insight on management roles in the food industry.
On February 26th, School of Management Professor Cynthia Ingols’ first-year class, Leading the Food Industry: From Passion to Productivity, enjoyed a whirlwind tour of Cambridge’s Central Square from a food-based perspective. The trip included five stops: a tour of Harvest Co-op, desserts at Baraka Café, time to explore the Asian grocery store
H-Mart, a behind-the-scenes tour of Toscanini’s Ice Cream, and a stop at the Indian restaurant and grocery store Dosa Factory.
Chris Durkin, Director of Membership and Community Relations at Harvest Co-op, gave students a tour of the co-op’s storefront and took them behind the scenes to explain the business model of co-ops versus other types of stores. He noted that Harvest was founded in 1971 and, at the time, the area was a “food desert” – meaning residents lacked easy access to a grocery store of any kind. Thus, the store is unusual because, unlike traditional co-ops that only sell natural and organic products, Harvest sells mainstream grocery products as well, as a service to the community.
The next stop on the field trip was North African restaurant Baraka Café, where owner Alia Radjeb Meddeb welcomed students with delicious desserts and lemonade. She grew up in France, but was heavily influenced by North African cuisine. She came to the United States in the 1970’s, and found work as a dishwasher in a Cambridge restaurant. Eventually, she worked her way up to owning her own restaurant, which she has been running ever since. She offered advice about the importance of being a strong woman if you want to make it in the food industry, and took questions from students, such as “What is your favorite thing about owning a restaurant?” Her answer was “you,” referring to all her customers, and she likened running a restaurant to owning a theater.
The final tour of the afternoon found students in the kitchen of Toscanini’s Ice Cream. Cofounder Gus Rancatore gave a peek into the world of ice cream creation. The class got to sample several exciting ice cream flavors currently in development, and Gus shared a variety of trivia, such as how their Burnt Caramel flavor was made by accident when a batch of standard caramel went awry. He also outlined the evolution of ice cream flavors as they relate to the overall evolution of food trends in the United States. When he was a child, he remembers only having three ice cream flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. As time went on, ice cream flavors got more inventive. Now the shop sells a mind-boggling variety of flavors, from Indian khulfee to mango sorbet.
Students were clearly excited about and engaged in the variety of food-related topics they learned on the trip. The class has upcoming field trips and guest lecturers planned, including a trip to WGBH Boston to learn about cooking show production. It is sure to be an exciting semester!