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John Harvard's Journal

Theresa McCulla

Meet the director of Harvard Dining Services’ Food Literacy Project.

January-February 2010

Theresa McCulla

Theresa McCulla

Photograph by Stu Rosner

Walking in Paris years ago, Theresa McCulla ’04 suddenly came face-to-face with small macarons (sandwich cookies), displayed on velvet cloth and dramatically lit from above in the shop window of pastry chef Pierre Hermé. “They were presented like jewelry,” she recalls. Since 2007, McCulla, an admitted “foodie,” has brought her reverence for food—nurtured in her own family’s kitchen, in professional venues, and during her college semester at the Sorbonne—to her job: coordinating the Harvard University Dining Services’ Food Literacy Project (FLP), which began in 2005. The FLP aims to educate the Harvard populace about food preparation, nutrition, agriculture, and community: it runs a farmers’ market; encourages local, seasonal eating; and conducts special events like a vegan baking workshop, a field trip to cranberry bogs, and a chance for students to roll their own truffles from a 15-pound batch of ganache. In college, McCulla studied French, Spanish, and Italian: “Some semesters I had no classes in English!—which I loved.” Her polyglot talents led to a job with the Central Intelligence Agency, where for three years she translated and analyzed European media. Yet food beckoned: evenings, McCulla volunteered as a line cook at a steak house, worked for a pastry chef, and did research for a food writer—activities respectively “chaotic, precise, and academic.” She baked the wedding cake for her marriage to Brian Goldstein ’04, a Harvard graduate student. They cook together nightly, and McCulla takes professional chef’s training at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. “My days and nights,” she says, “are filled with food.”