Teaching kitchens are an increasingly popular and fun setting for building lifelong skills that promote healthy habits and long-term health. Using culinary instruction as the foundation, teaching kitchen programs incorporate other self-care techniques, such as nutrition, mindfulness, resilience, and physical activity. Under the leadership of Dr. David Eisenberg, adjunct associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, an international Teaching Kitchen Collaborative (TKC) of medical professionals, chefs, educators, researchers, and food system experts is working on advancing personal health and health of the planet through food.
Teaching kitchens currently exist in various settings, including healthcare systems, community health centers, and corporations. At worksites, they contribute to a culture of health and wellness, improve employee engagement and productivity, equip employees with skills and attitudes supportive of long-term health and happiness, and help with disease and weight management and developing stress resilience. Teaching kitchens also offer a unique, interactive opportunity for team building.
Emory Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness is leading in innovative development and implementation of teaching kitchens and their evaluation and related research.
Dr. Sharon Bergquist founded Emory Healthy Kitchen Collaborative (EHKC) in 2019 as a worksite wellness pilot program offered to Emory employees. It is a multidisciplinary, skill-building, hands-on program intended to support positive lifestyle changes, weight management, and overall wellness.
EHKC begins with a 10-week evidence-based, fun, and interactive curriculum led by Emory experts in nutrition, exercise, ethnobotany, mindfulness eating, and resilience. It combines several learning styles – lectures and experiential learning, one-on-one support and group discussion, live classes, and pre-recorded lectures. Participants learn to make healthy foods in the kitchen, experience mind-body connection doing yoga, tune into their bodies while meditating, and recognize their hunger and satiety cues.