Kitchen preps medical students, physicians with nutrition education


Chef Leah Sarris, of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University, sharpens a knife in a session designed to hone the skills of representatives from 13 universities and healthcare centers that have licensed the Goldring Center’s curriculum. (Photo: Paula Burch-Celentano)

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine (GCCM) at Tulane University in New Orleans is the first fully operational teaching kitchen affiliated with a medical school. Learn more about this innovative concept when GCCM Executive Director Timothy S. Harlan, MD, and Chef Leah Sarris, program director, will present “Culinary Medicine” from 9:15 am to 10:45 am today in Room 208-210.

Dr. Harlan and Sarris will share how to implement effective community models of self-management that facilitate lifestyle modification to help prevent or delay chronic disease and improve outcomes.

GCCM chefs and medical students teach others what works best for weight control and optimum health — fresh whole foods and the skills to plan and cook great meals. By applying the culinary skills learned during community classes, patients are able to lead healthier lives.

Bringing basic science curriculum together with clinical education, the center offers a more complete view of how future physicians can incorporate dietary intervention strategies into their practice of medicine. Through hands-on cooking classes, medical students and physicians learn the practical aspects of lifestyle change necessary to help them guide their patients to healthier choices. In addition to instructing students, programming within GCCM offers cooking classes for patients of Tulane’s community clinics and the New Orleans community.


Timothy S. Harlan, MD

The center came about in 2010 in response to the epidemic rates of diabetes and obesity in the country. The idea emerged from decades of medical breakthroughs regarding the science of nutrition.

The Teaching Kitchen has hosted more than 20 students from the partnering Johnson and Wales Culinary Nutrition program, exposing them to medical school curriculum, community classes, kitchen management and time in an endocrinology clinic with physicians and diabetes nurse educators.

“Documentation of efficacy is at the core of our mission. It’s important that we show improved outcomes, and our research shows that medical students who participate in our programming are at up to eight times more prepared to discuss issues such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and Mediterranean diet principles with their patients,” Dr. Harlan said.


Leah Sarris

In an initial small pilot study with persons with diabetes they found small, statistically significant improvement in lipids and hemoglobin A1C, and they now have a much larger trial underway.

“Our mission is to help healthcare providers understand the impact that the Mediterranean diet can have on our patients’ health and show how we are working to translate that research into practical strategies in our practices,” Dr. Harlan said.

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