The BU Food Engineers: Meet E-Beth and Sophie

E-Beth Leach and Sophie Perez aren’t your average Boston University freshmen. They’re taking innovation to a whole new level with their Instagram account @bu.food.engineers. It features different recipes using food from the dining hall. Their creations will make you think twice about avoiding the food everyone dreads.

I sat down with the two chefs and got to see their work in action as they finished up a post. E-Beth has the account pulled up on her phone and is looking to Sophie for the finishing touches. The recipe they are working on is a twist on a banana split. They’ve mixed the fruit with soft serve ice cream and delicious toppings. Once they finalize the post, Sophie adds me to their Instagram story and then it’s time to get down to business.

How did you meet and become friends?

E-Beth: It was a Friday, I’m pretty sure.

Sophie: Yes, it was a 9 A.M. class.

E-Beth: It was in the School of Hospitality and I was just sitting there and had this thought and turned around to Sophie and said, “Do you get weird vibes from this professor?”

Sophie: I can’t remember what I said, but I agreed, and the class was dead silent which was really funny.

E-Beth: From there we found out we had more classes together and ended up studying and getting food and hanging out a lot.

Where did the idea for the Instagram come from?

E-Beth: We were at a Starbucks in Cambridge in Harvard Square and Sophie was cutting a cupcake in half. She was manipulating the cupcake in these cool ways and said the term “food engineer.” A couple months later we were at by CHLOE., which inspired us, and we thought of the idea to make an Instagram that teaches people how to make fun food in the dining hall. Everyone dreads the dining hall and we want people to enjoy what we’re given.

Where do you get inspiration for your posts?

Sophie: A lot of it comes from bouncing it off each other. We sometimes think of random foods, like a hot dog, a desert, a waffle, and think of what we could add to that. We text about it a lot if we get an idea.

E-Beth: We’ll even just text each other something like “BROWNIE” and go on to explain it more. It’s really funny that we always get so excited about new ideas.

What goes into a post?

E-Beth: First we meet up, go to the dining hall, and do a lap then reconvene. For each step, we take a picture or boomerang. We take pictures of each ingredient and the final product. We upload the pictures to a shared Google Drive and come up with a caption. They’re usually punny so it takes a while. Then we come up with clever steps. We download the photos, edit them a little, and figure out when we’re going to post them. We make primarily breakfast and lunch food so that’s when we try to post.

Sophie: Since there are two of us, we have to each do our separate tasks and then bring everything together. We make sure that we’re sharing photos and reminding each other to add things to the instructions. We really try to keep everything uniform.

What is the hardest part about adapting to the dining hall’s limitations?

Sophie: There are certain little things. You don’t always realize until you bump into it. For the longest time, we wanted to do a mac and cheese hot dog, but we had to wait for foods to line up in the dining hall. We draw a lot from the salad bar ingredients, but those also change a lot.

Have you heard feedback from followers who have tried your recipes?

E-Beth: We get some DM's or people tagging us on their stories, saying things like, “I feel like such a BU food engineer,” or that they loved something after they’ve tried it.

Sophie: I heard from one girl the other day about the bruschetta toast who said she didn’t know how she felt about the fish on top. That’s okay to make it your own way. I just like hearing that we’re inspiring people.

What goals and plans do you have for the account in the future?

Sophie: Since we won’t be freshmen next year and a lot of freshmen cater to freshmen meal plans in the dining hall, I’ll be studying abroad next year and I’ll have a kitchen. We’ll be able to do more easy college student recipes. Maybe some quick dorm hacks and things you can make with what’s in your pantry. We’ve talked about making it a club as well.

E-Beth: We're definitely looking into making it a club. I love philanthropy and community service so I think to make it a philanthropic organization to possibly work with soup kitchens and kids to teach them how to eat healthily would be a dream come true.

Within 4 months, the account is almost at 700 followers and seems to constantly be gaining publicity. Stay up to date with E-Beth and Sophie’s food journey through their posts by following @bu.food.engineers.

 

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