Porter Gifford (right), son of K. Dun Gifford, awarding Rebecca Alssid (left) with the K. Dun Gifford Local Hero Award, with Readable Feast co-director Louisa Kasdon (center) looking on.

As we have done in the previous two years, Oldways has remembered K. Dun Gifford, founder of Oldways, by honoring a New Englander with the K. Dun Gifford Local Hero Award at the Annual Readable Feast

This award, which recognizes a lifetime of achievement, is first and foremost a Local Hero Award. Dun was a New Englander, and more than 25 years ago, with another New Englander and also one of the 2018 Readable Feast’s honorees – Nancy Harmon Jenkins – he started Oldways to preserve and promote culinary traditions. 

He founded Oldways with a vision for the future: that people and societies will be healthier, happier and stronger by embracing the old ways of food – cultural food traditions. The core values for this vision were:

  1. There is value in preserving cultural and culinary traditions for future generations.
  2. Heritage foods and ways of eating are delicious, fun and nutritionally sound.
  3. Heritage diets are sustainable.

At Oldways these core values are still valid today. 

This year’s honoree, Rebecca Alssid IS truly a local hero. She didn’t just witness the culinary revolution.  She has been part of it. 

Over the last 30 years, she created then fostered the culinary program at Boston University. Using her wits and connections in the New England, national and international culinary worlds – including Julia Child and Jacques Pepin – she developed a premier experience, training students for a culinary certification and offering cooking classes for the greater Boston community.

Rebecca also ran an adult education program, coordinated culinary tours in Europe and created the first Master’s program in Gastronomy. (In fact, Oldways reaps the benefits of this – we have two graduates of this Master’s in Gastronomy program among our staff members.) And going even further, she created the wine education program at BU’s Elizabeth Bishop Wine Resource Center, which offers various certifications for everyone from consumers to aspiring professionals preparing to take the master sommelier program.

Finally, like Dun, Rebecca’s impact goes way beyond local, and also like Dun, she was ahead of her time. Thousands of students and food enthusiasts from all over the world have benefited from her kind, but tenacious, attention to bettering our knowledge of food and wine.

Congratulations Rebecca! Dun would be very proud. 

Sara Baer-Sinnott, Oldways President

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