The University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics strives to “cultivate a diverse faculty pursuing impactful scholarship and enthusiastically sharing their expertise” as part of the College’s mission. Each year, our faculty push the boundaries within academia, creating innovative research and earning impressive awards, placements and accolades.
This year, the UD Alfred Lerner College welcomed 18 new faculty members into its community. Alison Rainis is an executive chef and instructor at Vita Nova, and she spoke with Lerner about her passion for the culinary arts and why she chose to return to the University of Delaware.
Lerner: What is your professional and academic background?
Rainis: I’m a proud University of Delaware alumna, and my passion for the culinary arts and Vita Nova brought me back to campus. After I completed my bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant and institutional management at UD in 2016, I went on to further my culinary education at The Culinary Institute of America. After serving as the group leader and Editor in Chief of La Papillote, I graduated with honors and the Francis Roth Leadership award in 2018.
I have worked in everything from fine dining and catering to grocery stores. Immediately before joining UD, I worked with Culinart, a small boutique brand of Compass Group Foodservice. During my time there, I was the executive chef for the high volume cooperate office of Lockheed Martin from 2018-2019. In 2019, I took on a new account with the company at Mt. St. Joseph’s Academy, an elite all girls high school where I served as the executive chef and general manager of the account. Most rewarding however, I taught culinary arts to my high school students as well as in summer camps to younger culinarians.
My time as a student in Vita Nova shaped me as a chef. I’m excited to continue Vita Nova’s legacy and hope to create the same wonderful experience for my students that I had.
Lerner: What inspired you to work in your field/research/subject area?
Rainis: I always wanted to be a chef. I grew up in a family where food brought everyone together and always was a focal point. I saw very early on the power that food has. Not only when it comes to bringing people to the table, but when it comes to memories and experiences. Having the opportunity to create a memory, an incredible dining experience, or giving people the space and ability to connect inspires me to continue to cook. I am very fortunate that on top of that, I am able to inspire students to do the same.
Lerner: What is it about UD that made you want to work/teach/research here?
Rainis: I was a graduate of UD and of Vita Nova. It was such a positive and transformative experience for me, I really wouldn’t want to teach anywhere else. I am excited to continue on the Vita Nova legacy!
Lerner: What course are you most excited to teach at Lerner?
Rainis: I am excited for all the courses at Vita, I don’t think I could pick just one!
Lerner: What is something unique about you that may surprise your peers/students? (hobby, talent, experience etc.)
Rainis: I ran my first 1/2 marathon this year and my second is this month!