Shadowing is often a matter of quietly observing, but for Emily Gove, ’17, it involved lending a hand — quite literally.
Over winter break, she shadowed Billy Lyons, ’05, a freelance food writer/producer and host for Zagat. The experience took her to YouTube Space New York, located over the historic Chelsea Market, where such celebrated cookies as the Oreo, the animal cracker, and the Fig Newton were invented when the building was the primary factory of the National Biscuit Company.
Gove, a junior anthropology and women, gender and sexuality studies double major “with heavy interest in food,” also added another brief episode to the history of American eating when she helped film a clip provocatively entitled “2015’s Sexiest Dishes: The Year in #FoodPorn.”
Featuring a series of mouthwatering NYC dishes, the film required Gove to assist Lyons and his team in arranging and preparing the different dishes and then acting as a “hand model” during the filming itself.
“Each food’s arrival had to be perfectly timed so that everything was filmed at its peak; this was a very small window for meltable things like ice cream sandwiches and milkshakes,” Gove wrote in an email from Samoa, where she is currently studying abroad.
Particularly enjoyable, she recalled, was the task of removing food from the plates during filming, taking a bite out of them, and then rearranging the remainder artistically.
“That the foods were New York’s best didn’t hurt either,” she commented.
Originally from Leominster, Mass., Gove came to the University as an Oldham Scholar. Anthropology early attracted her with its focus on, she wrote, “finding the intricacies behind things we find commonplace and take for granted, and looking at aspects of our world from a different perspective.” Women’s studies, too, sparked her interest her freshman year after encountering WILL* during orientation, and she has been heavily involved with music on campus, playing with the jazz and concert bands as well as the Brazilian music ensemble.
Throughout her studies, food has remained an abiding interest. In 2015, Gove traveled to Italy to study food and sustainability at the Umbra Institute in Perugia. It was there that she spied the opportunity to shadow Lyons while scrolling through Career Services listings — an experience she described as “the perfect fit!”
“It would give me an idea of what I might like to do within the ‘food field,’” Gove explained. “It combined food with writing and with presentation, both of which I am interested in.”
Besides being fun, she reflected, the experience was illuminating: “I learned how much time goes into making the quick clips we see on social media, and how intensely people may focus on small details that the viewer takes for granted.”
While she may not end up at Zagat after graduation — graduate school or the beginning stages of a career in writing or public policy related to food systems are more to her taste at the moment — “it was useful,” she wrote, “to see what a range of options there can be for students.”