JWU Student's Culinary Nutrition Career Inspired by Childhood in Japan

Growing up on a small military base in Sasebo, Japan, Carrie Vail '12 never dreamed she’d have the chance to assist a Food Network and Fox television personality and Distinguished Visiting Chef (DVC), never mind receive a prestigious scholarship award in his name. DVC Scott Leibfried '93 Student Carrie Vail '12

But that’s just what happened recently when Carrie was presented with a $2,000 award in honor of the Providence Campus’ 162nd DVC, Scott Leibfried '93.

Leibfried is best known as Gordon Ramsay’s sous chef on the hit Fox reality show, “Hell’s Kitchen.” He also serves as a consultant on Ramsay’s show “Kitchen Nightmares.”

Cooking with Chef Leibfried
While Ramsay is known for his explosive, expletive-laden kitchen takedowns, Leibfried proved to be relaxed, even affable, during his cooking demonstration. As he talked to students about his career, he whipped through an ambitious menu of ale-braised mussels; fresh tagliatelle with butternut squash, sage and pecorino romano; grilled wild bass with salsa fresco and baked Kusshi oysters with creamed spinach.

For Carrie, it was a great opportunity to learn: “My favorite tip was to use water that had been steeped in saffron to give the pasta a really nice golden color,” she says. “And he was so fun to watch! He threw dough out into the audience so students could feel the texture. He joked around a lot.”

A Culinary Melting Pot
It’s no surprise that Carrie grew up being interested in food: Sasebo was a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines. "Our hometown had the most amazing restaurants! My sister and I would almost never eat Japanese food when we went home — all our favorite restaurants were Thai, Indian, Italian, Spanish and Chinese."

Carrie Vail '12; Scott Leibfried '93 Distinguished Visiting ChefHer interest in culinary nutrition was shaped by the base’s lack of a formal medical facility. "Service members were required to maintain a certain weight and physical shape without guidance,” she recalls. “People skipped meals, over-exercised, and resorted to extreme dieting.”

Her dream is to work for the armed forces as a dietitian. But she’s also interested in pediatrics: “When you work with kids, you can take a fun approach to nutrition. All the diet plans are cute sticker charts and games,” she laughs.

The Singing, Dancing Nutritionist
Carrie’s adapted so well to life at JWU that it’s hard to believe she’d never lived in the US as an adult. “There was some culture shock,” she admits.

You’d never guess it now: this dynamo has crammed her schedule with as many labs and academic classes as she can. She’s also a member of the JWU Players, the Providence Campus’ theatre group. Last year, she worked on Urinetown: The Musical, and she’s gearing up for this year’s variety show.

Juggling her many time commitments can be tough, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love performing but I love my JWU Players family even more!” she enthuses. “I make new friends every year, and I love the group dynamic.”

Because they have limited funding, the whole cast is involved in set building, props and costumes. "We work so hard but it’s completely worth it!"

See for yourself when their next production premieres in the spring.
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