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07.30.2014

Former Bulldog making “Chic Comfort Food” on MasterChef

Combining southern charm with a New York edge can be tricky, but former Bulldog, Elizabeth Cauvel (ABJ '04), has done just that in her time in the kitchen. Cauvel has stepped into the spotlight as one of 30 contestants on season 5 of “MasterChef."

Known for tantalizing recipes and wild expressions, Cauvel is in the running for the coveted prize: a cookbook deal, $250,000 and the title of MasterChef. We caught up with Cauvel to see how she made the journey from Athens to Los Angeles for the show. 

Tell us a little about yourself, and how you came across joining this season of "MasterChef"?

I'm an associate creative director at MRY, a digital and social advertising agency in New York. After graduating from UGA, I attended Creative Circus, a creative advertising portfolio school in Atlanta. I started working in Chicago as a copywriter in 2007 and moved to New York in 2010.

I am a huge fan of MasterChef and while watching the show, I saw an ad for open auditions in New York. Despite the fact that auditions were a mere two weeks after my wedding, I decided to try out for the show. I brought homemade lasagna as my audition dish, and after making it through the initial rounds, I learned that I'd be flying to Los Angeles with the final 100 contestants. From there, we were narrowed down to a group of 30. I'm proud to say I'm still in the running and have won six individual competitions this season. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment as a chef so far during or outside of the show?

My greatest accomplishment since filming the show is being invited to Lexington to cook for a group of chefs and journalists with my MasterChef co-contestant and real life friend, Dan Wu. The meal was styled, photographed and hosted by Tiffany Mitchell, creator of www.offbeatandinspired.com. It was a huge honor to work with a talented content creator like Tiffany as well as work alongside a competitor and friend I deeply respect.

How did your time at UGA influence your interest in becoming a chef?

Living in Athens exposed me to cooking styles, ethnic cuisines and restaurants that I'd never had access to in my hometown. I tried new foods and started to expand my palate. I realized I loved experiencing different cuisines, which inspired me to dabble in the kitchen.

I started off slow, mostly cooking with pre-made ingredients, but soon learned to conceptualize dishes and follow basic recipes. As I began to learn practice, I experimented with cooking from scratch. Cooking brings me so much joy – I think I might actually be addicted to it! Cooking is meditative for me; it's truly my therapy. I want everyone to be able to experience the joy of cooking at home and sharing a meal with loved ones.

What is one of your favorite things to cook?

I love to cook pasta! I have been perfecting my lasagna recipe for about three years, and it got me on MasterChef, so I think it's pretty solid! I love making pasta from scratch and I'll spend an entire Saturday simmering a tomato sauce. I'm not Italian, but I still aspire to be an Italian grandma.

What are your plans for after the show is over?

I'm still working in advertising, but I'm also doing small catering gigs, private dinners and events. I'm working on food photography, styling and writing, too. I blog about my cooking adventures and I frequently post food pictures on my Instagram account

Ultimately, my dream is to inspire people to cook at home, by showing them it’s easier and more accessible than they think. I'll go wherever that mission leads me.

With such passion for cooking, we expect Cauvel to go far in her culinary journey and wish her luck on the show. To catch Cauvel in action, watch Season 5 of MasterChef on Monday nights at 8 p.m. on FOX. To find out more about her journey to the show watch her contestant video here.

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03.04.2015

Alumnus Spotlight: Alex Crevar (AB '93)

The University of Georgia, which ranks among the top 20 public universities by U.S. News & World Report, has a student body of more than 34,000. While many students arrive at UGA right out of high school, many do not. For example, consider journalist Alex Crevar (AB '93). After graduating from UGA in the early 1990s, Alex spent nearly 20 years traveling abroad and working as a freelance journalist, contributing to The New York Times, Men's Journal, National Geographic and more.

Alex has returned to UGA to pursue a masters degree from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He still works full time as a travel editor for Paste Magazine and part time as a spin instructor at the Ramsey Student Center. Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB '12, AB '12) sat down with Alex to discuss the biggest changes he's noticed at UGA since his undergraduate years and what it's like to return as a non-traditional student. 

What prompted you to first attend UGA? What was your major and were you involved in any students activities?

UGA was one of the only schools I applied to and it was where all my friends were. Frankly, in those days, it was not a hard place to be accepted. I knew I would have fun. As a student, I was a communications major. I ran triathalons and played ultimate frisbee for UGA. I took a semester off to ski. I had a great time and still graduated with fairly good grades. 

What did you do between graduating from UGA the first time and returning to earn your masters? How did your time at UGA prepare you for your career?

For the last 18, I have been a journalist. I lived between Europe and the U.S., covering travel for a variety of newspapers and magazines. 

During my time at UGA, I became an adult -- of sorts -- and someone who was confident that he could try new things and visit new places. UGA and Athens have always been comfortable for me and because of those roots, I could live elsewhere knowing I always had a place to return, which is no small thing for any person. 

  

Alex during his undergraduate years at UGA in the early 1990s

What made you want to return to Athens and UGA?

I came back to earn a masters in journalism. I want to eventually teach journalism at the college level while continuing to freelance. 

Briefly discuss some of the biggest differences between your first time at UGA and now? How has campus changed, biggest difference in the student body, etc.

The biggest difference, without question, is technology. There was no Internet when I attended UGA. Now, of course, people are on their phones and laptops all the time. I find myself a little frustrated by the constant need to be in touch by device and the Internet.

The students today seem to be much more focused on school than I was ... or my friends were. But again, UGA wasn't the kind of place you had to fight to get into back then. Having said that, my generation loved Athens for Athens. Largely we were here because of the town. It seems that students are here now more for the school, which is appropriate, of course.

Are you interested in returning to UGA to earn a graduate degree? Click here to learn more about opportunities with UGA's Graduate School, which has many nationally ranked programs.

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02.25.2015

Alumna Spotlight: Sara Alread (BFA ’09)

Sara Alread (BFA '09) of Saint Simons Island, Georgia successfully launched her business, Little River Designs, in April 2013. The web-based business features rustic hand-crafted, wooden designs for the Southern home. Litter River Designs is a family business in every sense of the word. Sara's father is a carpenter, while her mother and sister serve as constant inspirations for new designs. The idea to create Little River Designs came in the form of a new family member. 

Sara shares how Litter River Designs got its name, "On November 30, 2011, my nephew, River, was born. He became our inspiration and official mascot. We were already making signs, planning weddings and building furniture for ourselves when friends became interested in what we were creating. Soon after River was born, Little River Designs began."

Little River Designs centers around a timeless family tradition: tracking grandchildrens' growth-spurts on the wall at grandma's house. Little River Designs' most popular item is the wooden Grow Chart Rulers.

      

Grow Chart Rulers by Litter River Designs

Today, Little River Designs continues to develop its online business and clientele. A recent expansion includes a line of wedding signs and the personalization of all Litter River Design products. As Sara and her team grow the Little River Designs line, they have gained the attention of a few big crafting and design websites. The business has been featured on SwissMiss, Sweet Peach, 100 Layer Cake, Rustic Wedding Chic, Golden Isles Magazine, and in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

To learn more about Sara and Little River Designs, check out the website and Facebook page.

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02.23.2015

Sisters Rethink “Something Borrowed”

Sisters Ashley Steele (ABJ ’06), of Charlottesville, Virginia., and Cali Brutz (AB ’08), of Athens, Georgia., own and operate two businesses that are modernizing the wedding industry. Steele and Brutz began working together in 2008 at the ages of 24 and 22, respectively. At the time, Steele was planning her own wedding and Brutz was a photographer. During the wedding planning process, the pair identified a number of issues that arise for the soon-to-be brides. Looking to solve those issues sparked several entrepreneurial projects.

The duo's latest venture, Borrowing Magnolia, uses a concept similar to that of Rent the Runway and Warby Parker in that brides will be able to rent wedding dresses for their big day directly from Borrowing Magnolia. The dresses available for rental will be provided by former brides who are interested in earning extra cash by lending their gown to another individual. Borrowing Magnolia ensures that the dresses are in good quality by limiting each dress to three rentals annually and five total. Sizes range from 0 to 24 and alterations are available as long as the changes are reversible

Borrowing Magnolia lives to serve the bride. The sisters ensure the brides-to-be that, "Borrowing Magnolia is committed to helping you find your dream gown, the way the modern bride does the dress. We make it easy for you to buy or borrow a designer gorgeous gown at a fraction of the retail cost, while still having a white-glove personalized boutique experience from start-to-finish. Look fabulous in your dream dress, save some cash, go green, and focus on what really matters on your wedding day. That’s what we’re all about."

The sisters have obviously been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and show no signs of stopping. This year, Borrowing Magnolia is expected to have over 800 dresses in their collection by the end of the year; the business was featured in the New York Times’ Style Section; and reality show producers are in talks of covering their business endeavors.

Congratulation to Ashley and Cali on their stellar sucess and best wishes as they continue to help women live their dream weddings. 

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