At age 12, Ariane Radulski, N97, knew more about good food and fine wine than most adults. That was the year her father took her from the south of Paris to Venice, via food and wine destinations. And because her mother was a pastry chef, her daily life was infused with the food business.
Today, Radulski is a wine wholesaler and a caterer, and despite her early exposure to the epicurean life, her career path was neither straight nor narrow.
"I was brought up with a strong liberal arts background," says Radulski. She attended McGill University and spent her junior year at American University in Cairo. Radulski graduated in 1982 with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and Third World development. During college, she worked at Oxfam, where she was a program assistant for a relief and rehabilitation program in Lebanon, and continued that work after graduation.
At about this time, Radulski's mother was beginning to think about starting her own gourmet shop/cafˇ, and as Radulski recalls, the two of them "would drive around the Massachusetts shoreline and Rhode Island every weekend looking for a location." After choosing Newburyport, Mass., Radulski started working in the shop's kitchen, a job that came naturally to her. (She had spent summers working in restaurants and eventually became an assistant manager at L'Espalier, one of the most esteemed restaurants in Boston, where she was the "right-hand person who did everything, including child care.")
Radulski ended up running her mother's cafˇ for 11 years (the business has since closed) and had two daughters, Sasha and Sofia, along the way.
"I always [knew], in the back of my mind that I wanted to go back to school," she says. Radulski got her hands on a brochure for the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and "thought of putting together my years in the food business with my undergraduate degree and re-inventing myself." Her decision to attend Tufts was "a huge turning point," as she describes it, at a time when she needed to do something for herself and enter a new world.
But Radulski faced a situation much harder than adjusting to classes and studying as she began the U.S. Food Policy Program (now the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition Program). Within weeks of getting into the program, Radulski found out that she had breast cancer. "I started at Tufts with no hair and was late for my first biostats course because of chemo," she recalls. Happily, eight years later, Radulski is in fine health and remembers the school as a nurturing environment during a rough time, with her peers providing a lot of support.
When Radulski finished her master's degree, her daughters were 8 and 5 years old, making an overseas job out of the question. Radulski contemplated a position with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, but the lure of a flexible schedule prompted her to increase her part-time job in a wine store to a full-time position. After two years, Radulski became a wholesaler in the fine wine division of United Liquors, the largest liquor distributor in the United States. She now sells wine to restaurants and liquor stores Monday through Friday, covering 800 miles a week, but she sets her own hours.
Despite a busy work week, Radulski runs a catering business on the weekends with a partner in Newburyport, Mass. Zest Catering is now four years old, and has been the caterer for the annual nutrition school holiday party for the last few years. Radulski's job as a wine wholesaler sometimes requires her to travel to wine tastings, including a "Pinot Noir camp" in Oregon. Admittedly, going to a "Pacific Northwest salmon roast with a lot of other food and wine geeks" is fun, but Radulski says she will not be doing this the rest of her life. "I still hope to do good works for a private voluntary organization or go to a Third World country."