Testimonial - Amanda Hassner (United States) - 2017 student

Amanda Hassner

Testimonial of Amanda Hassner (2017 student)

Lifelong learning. For those of us who are passionate about our work, and passionate about life, it is not a question of desire, but of need. For me, the continuous cycle of learning and teaching and creating is what gets me out of bed every morning. It is as necessary for life as eating. When my associates at work look to me to provide education and inspiration, I enrich myself so that I can enrich them. However, sometime education has to come in the in-between places that exist around endless projects and deadlines.  Often it is a solitary pursuit.  I teach by cooking and I learn by cooking, often trying things alone in the kitchen when everyone has gone home for the day.

I was a bit apprehensive, then, before attending the Hautes Études du Goût. I had begun to equate learning with a hands-on-in-the-kitchen approach, and that is not at all what HEG is. Within the first day I was reminded that gastronomy and cooking are not the same things. Over the course of the two weeks I reminded myself that I do more than cook for people: I give them--in a sensorial way--a view of food culture and what food means to people. 

But to say that I studied gastronomy for two weeks does not do the HEG program justice. What I did was sit down to the most cerebrally indulgent, most inspirational mental meal that I could have imagined. I shared with a group of the best newly-made dining companions that could hope to meet.  Gastronomy has so many aspects that range from art to science, science to art, all with a lens focused on history and culture. Every class was a separate course--a feast in itself—but that connected with each other to form a complete repast.  Nowhere else could I have found teachers so passionate and eager to teach, all scheduled in such a way to allow engagement and reflection. As deep and thorough as the lectures were, though, we were really only given a taste of each subject, morsels of information to spark further investigation and research.

HEG attracts a diverse study body. People attend from all over the globe and in all stages of career in the multi-disciplinary world of the food and beverage industry.  I learned not just from the educational professionals in the program, but from the experience and insights of my fellow participants. It was an honor to be among them.

Meals were more than an allegory conceit in the HEG program: the food and wine experiences were not only amazing in themselves, but tied in beautifully with the tutelage.  Of course three-star Michelin dining provided creative inspiration, but pleasure-laden memories also came from traditional dishes—sometimes served family style--and even from the little cylinders of Normandy butter at breakfast.
Important for me was the experience of food cooked and served by others than myself.  Travel is a wonderful way for a food professional to break away from the silo of her kitchen.  I cannot imagine a better program than HEG to provide me a way to pull away from the routine of my work and at the same time pull together an expanding picture of gastronomy and a plan for its continued pursuit.

Institut des Hautes Etudes du Goût, de la Gastronomie et des des Arts de la Table

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