BCAE Blog

BCAE Instructor Spotlight: Marianne Staniunas

Posted by Marie Scarfo on Mon, Mar 20, 2017

 InstructorSpotlight_MarianneStaniunas.jpg

Our Instructor Spotlight Series continues! The latest instructor, featured in our May/June catalog, is Marianne Staniunas, BCAE Tasting instructor and expert on all things cheese, wine, and honey! Catch the full interview right here, and stay tuned for more awesome details about our even more awesome instructors.

BCAE: First off, welcome to the BCAE! Tell us a little about yourself.
MARIANNE: I am an attorney who decided to seek out a different quality of life, almost four years ago, when I left private practice for the cheese and wine world - which had always fascinated me - beginning work with Formaggio Kitchen South End.  I still use my legal training to do pro bono legal work and volunteer work on the side and feel that I have achieved more of the balance in life I was looking for.

BCAE: What do you love most about teaching?
MARIANNE: My favorite thing about teaching, is being able to share information, flavors, experiences about and with things that I love with others.

InstructorSpotlight_MarianneStaniunas-1.jpgBCAE: So, you’re a cheesemonger, wine buyer, honey expert & beekeeper. How did you get into these trades?
MARIANNE: As I mentioned, I started out as an attorney with an interest in wine and cheese and food generally.  I had become an attorney because I wanted to help people, but after working in several different roles over more than eight years, I realized that I wasn't using my degree to help people in the ways that I had hoped.  I became disillusioned with the whole attorney life and lifestyle, and decided to make an abrupt shift on my career path. 

Working at Formaggio opened up so many opportunities for me to learn about all kinds of artisanal foods - from wine, to cheese, to honey - and for me to become more knowledgable in all of these areas.  I am the Honey Buyer for the South End Shop (as well as a buyer of several other products), a cheesemonger, and assistant to the Wine Buyer.  Working at Formaggio also has allowed me to pursue other interests, from using my legal degree to do the kind of pro bono legal work that is meaningful to me, to do additional volunteer work, and to pick up some other hobbies. 

I got into beekeeping as a result of my endeavors to learn more about the production side of honey - both in my role as Honey Buyer, and as part of some of the volunteer work I do for a non-profit in Uganda that was starting an apiary.  I was fortunate to get connected with The Best Bees Company here in the South End; I had a beehive last season, and the folks at Best Bees manage several additional hives for both the South End and Cambridge Formaggio shops.  My bees did not make it through the winter, but I am excited to try again this season.

BCAE: What’s your favorite thing about beekeeping? What do you find to be the most challenging?
MARIANNE: I still consider myself a novice beekeeper - I think it takes years and years of practice to move on from that status! - but my favorite thing about beekeeping is the bees.  Bees are incredible and the functioning of the beehive as a super-organism still boggles my mind.  There is so much to learn about how bees work, the challenges they face, and there are so many difficult decisions to make as a beekeeper, regarding when and how to intervene, and when to just observe.  The biggest challenge for me, is trying to figure out that intervention piece.

BCAE: Unfair question, but we have to know: what’s your favorite cheese?
MARIANNE: My favorite cheese??  Cheese is made by living organisms, and so every wheel is a little different - even when you use the exact same recipe, and provide the same aging conditions.  For me, that means that various cheeses move in and out of my "top five," depending on the flavors, textures, etc. of a given wheel.  That being said, one cheese that I always come back to as a standby is Colston-Bassett Stilton - a rich, earthy, musty, mouth-wateringly delicious cow's milk blue from Nottingham in England.  

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Take a class with Marianne!

Inside Honey: The Bee's Cheese

Spring Cheese & Wine

Spanish Cheeses & Sherry

Honey Tasting & The Basics of Beekeeping

Artisan Olive Oil & Vinegars: A Tasting Tour

BROWSE ALL OF OUR TASTING CLASSES HERE!

 

Topics: BCAE classes, wine, spring, things to do in Boston, wine education, Wine classes Boston, Spring activities in Boston, boston things to do, wine class Boston, wine tasting, Boston classes, beekeeping, urban beekeeping, Spring Classes at the BCAE, Wine & Spirits, BCAE Tasting classes, Boston Tastings, Boston Tasting classes, cheese, honey, BCAE Tastings, things to do in Spring in Boston

Inside Look: BCAE's Urban Beekeeping Class with Best Bees

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Wed, May 27, 2015

You may have seen "Urban Beekeeping" listed in the BCAE course catalog for a while now, but do you know what "Urban Beekeeping" really entails? Up until recently, I didn't. A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to get an inside "staff" look at what one of our more unusual classes. Behind the Scenes: Urban Beekeeping with Boston's Best Bees!

Best Bees is located in Boston's South End, right by Boston Medical Center. Believe it or not, it actually shares building space with an auto body shop! Odd combo, right? But it makes more sense than you might think. Both businesses need outdoor as well as indoor space, and both tend to be, well, messy. The fact that the place is home to thousands of bees and their honey is readily apparent (and all the more fascinating).

Coming around back (behind the auto body show) to the Best Bees entrance, it is hard to immediately realize what you're seeing. Nestled next to a couple rows of parked cars are row upon row of wooden hives, swarming with bees - the busiest we'd ever see them we were told!

bees

They were everywhere! While slightly terrifying for bee-fearing folk like me, despite immediate assurances that the bees were non-aggressive, the shear amount of lively buzzing activity was enthralling.

honey

We then ventured inside what feels very much like a Best Bees "workshop," complete with a fully functioning kitchen just for our BCAE beekeeping students. We got up close and personal with the product of the busy, buzzing hives - fresh, sweet, local HONEY! We tasted it right from the honeycomb, already perfectly deliciously sweet...sticky on our fingers (and on the bottoms of our shoes).

Noah Best Bees Boston

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Noah Wilson-Rich, gave us the tour, weaving through stacks of hives while telling us all about starting the business, the booming success of it all, and a lot of fun and interesting facts about bees. Check out Noah's book, The Bee: A Natural History, for bee facts and much more. All students who take the class get loads of this bee knowledge, some hands-on experience, and to take home a beehive frame like Noah is holding above (without the honeycomb), beeswax lip balm, and honey (when in season).

shelves and suits

Craftiness taken to another level: the shelves featured above left were hand-built as well, just like the kitchen counter! And don't worry - there are plenty of protective suits for safety when handling the hives directly.

painted hives

Looking to upgrade your urban beekeping experience? Best Bees' "Resident Artist" has designed hand-painted equipment in stunning color and detail. These can sell for a pretty penny but are truly works of art.

Best Bees Boston

Thank you to the kind and welcoming Best Bees team for showing us around their fascinatingly cool space and teaching us things we never knew before! Don't pass up an opportunity to see them in action - sign up now to take Urban Beekeeping! The next sessions are Thursday, June 11th and Thursday, August 13th.

Topics: BCAE, Best Bees, BCAE class, Boston, beekeeping, urban beekeeping, bees