BCAE Instructor Spotlight: Marianne Staniunas

Posted by Marie Scarfo on Mon, Mar 20, 2017


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.  


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



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

Cheers to National Wine Day!

Posted by Becky Brackett on Fri, May 23, 2014

national wine day

Now here's a holiday we can really get behind - National Wine Day! Happily it falls on Memorial Day weekend so we can all fully indulge. In honor of the day we're doing a round-up of our upcoming wine classes. Fill up your glass and have a browse. Cheers!

Topics: BCAE, National Wine Day, Wine classes Boston, Boston Center for Adult Education

Happy Mother's Day from the BCAE: Top 5 Classes to Take with Mom

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Mon, May 05, 2014

Yikes it's May! And that means that Mother's Day is right around the corner!

If you're mom is anything like mine, she'll tell you not to get her anything for Mother's Day, she'll refuse to tell you what she wants (insisting she doesn't need anything), and she'll just say she wants to spend time with you! So we've got your answer this Mother's Day at the BCAE, and we're inviting you to come and bring your mom to a class this spring.

Top 5 Classes to Take with Mom:

#1 Mother and Daughter Beads Class (Sunday, May 11th)--The team at Diablo Glass will show you and your mom how to make your own beautiful glass beads at their state-of-the-art facility. No experience necessary!

#2 Biscotti & Italian Cookies (Saturday, May 10th)--Busy Mother's Day Sunday but still looking for something fun to do together? Make it Mother's Day weekend and come to the BCAE kitchen for a morning of baking.

# 3 Stop & Smell the Rosé: Appreciating Rosé Wine (Thursday, May 15th)--Bond with Mom while sampling a selection of these elegant wines.

#4 Beginner Digital Photography: Weekend Workshop (Saturday, May 31st)--Get the info you need to beautifully capture all your mother/daughter moments! And all with Bled for Boston's Chris Padgett.

#5 Dance Fitness: Cardio Dance Party & Zumba (Multiple dates in May and June)-- Looking for someting a bit more active to do with Mom? Sign up for these high energy classes, available as 8-session, 4-session, or single session classes.

Browse our full class selection here.

Happy Mother's Day from the BCAE!

Still looking for some Mother's Day inspiration? We asked BCAE staffers about some of the things that make our moms so great. Here's what we came up with:

#1 Mom appreciates the simple things...

Becky's mom

From a young age my mom taught me to enjoy the small and the simple. To be patient, kind, and curious. And that many of the best things in life are free. Watching her I learned the joy that a garden in bloom can bring — especially when you’re the one who has put in the hard work. I love you mom! --Becky

#2 Mom always knows what to say when times are tough...

Brooke's mom

Growing up I wasn’t the cookie cutter child – I played pretend far beyond the normal age, my hair was always a mess (no brush, jell, or magic could make it look normal) and I was the kid with the constant booger. After a ruthless day of middle school I asked my mom why people bother making fun of other people, what’s the gain? She told me, ‘Brooke, no matter what you do in life, people will always have something to say about it – people are bored. Be yourself, do good, and give them something to talk about it, make it worth it’. It’s the most wonderful advice I’ve ever been given.-- Brooke

#3 Mom is an endless source of wisdom...

This piece of wisdom was passed down from my grandmother, who has 4 daughters.  Every year she would take her daughters to Bermuda and her wisdom, which has been imparted to me, “Don’t Bring Sand to the Beach.” -- Ashley

#4 Mom's not afraid to put her toes in the sand...

Tom's mom

I’m lucky. Life with my mom is always a day at the beach. --Tom

#5 Mom values a balanced diet...

Kim's mom

If I’ve learned anything from my mom over the years, it’s that chocolate really is the answer to everything.  She has an entire kitchen cabinet devoted to it, with a large selection to choose from.

I didn’t touch the stuff until age 10 and I think that may have been my biggest disappointment to her.  I would give all of my Halloween candy away and I always requested vanilla birthday cakes…with the frosting cut off. So when I FINALLY tasted a brownie at summer camp and realized what I was missing all of those years, I think our Mother-Daughter bond got that much stronger.

Dessert after a meal?  Always. But only if it’s chocolate. Birthday cakes (or any cake for that matter) must be the darkest, richest, chocolatiest you can find (especially ones with a molten center). Mother-Daughter dates to Finale? You bet.

So as I thrilled my mom by moving back home after graduation…and saddened her when I moved out six months later, I am still only a 20-minute drive away. So I know that I can always call her and say, “I need some chocolate. Wanna go get some?” Even more often I ask, “Wanna go get froyo?" (Her favorite is BerryLine because they have Taza chocolate shavings as a topping.) Her answer will always be “yes.”

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of chocolate.--Kim

#6 Mom loves us just as we are...

In the years since my two older sisters and I have entered adulthood my mother-- a sweet, selfless woman by all accounts—has become an excellent gardener. My assumption always had been that horticulture was a skill that lay dormant in my mother due to her unwavering commitment towards the three very different children she reared. In my eyes, she must’ve just been far too busy to garden.

Recently, I flippantly told my mother how I was impressed that she had developed a green thumb later in life. She replied, “The only reason I didn’t have a garden is because you and your friends were always playing ball in the yard.”

When I was a child my friends and I consistently played a multitude of proprietary sports in my yard. The most conspicuous game played consisted of four 9-year-old boys chucking balls off of the roof of my family’s house. The object of the game was to catch the ball as it came off the roof before it hit the ground, forcing us to dive horizontally to the ground in order to save a browned, overused tennis ball from resting in the pile of mulch that snaked around the foundation of the house. When we were finished playing we’d cover our tracks by lightly kicking the badly damaged areas of mulch and grass over the discernible--if not unmistakable--shapes of scrawny and sprawled bodies in the earth.

I picked at my corn beef hash and eggs with a sheepish, crooked smile. “Umm, I’m really sorry. I wouldn’t have done that if I knew you wanted to garden so much.”

“You absolutely would have. Or I would have had to ground you for being a boy.”  “I wanted you and your friends to be boys. I would look out the window and see you playing and even though I was rolling my eyes and thinking, ‘geez, Andrew, really?’ it made me smile. You were all these little balls of energy and life, and when I reflect back on your childhood I smile more at those times than any other.”

“You wanted us to be boys? But we were little a**holes.”

“Right, I wanted you to be boys.” -- Andrew


Happy Mother's Day from the BCAE to all the moms out there!

Topics: BCAE classes, BCAE cooking classes, Mother's Day Boston, things to do Mother's Day Boston, Wine classes Boston, BCAE Dance Classes, Mother's Day gift ideas, Happy Mother's Day