Culinary Medicine Program


Nutrition is an important part of the circle of wellness, but patients—as well as providers— often lack practical cooking skills that are key to helping insure that our patients are able to ensure the well-intended nutritional recommendations we give them into putting healthy, delicious meals on their tables.

The literature has shown that giving physicians more knowledge and training in practical nutrition, including healthy cooking skills, improves their effectiveness in supporting healthy nutritional choices of their patients. The initiative is one part of our Integrative Medicine Program’s overarching plan to change the focus of healthcare and medical education for our residents, medical students and faculty to include a multidisciplinary, patient-centered approach that emphasizes wellness, prevention and self-care skills.

Culinary Medicine is one of several Integrative Medicine projects offered through the UC Irvine Department of Family Medicine and Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute. These programs are made possible by the Samueli Foundation and other generous supporters, including UCI Campus Recreation and the Health Scholars Program.

Goals & Objectives

The focus of the initiative is to take learners into the kitchen for hands-on cooking classes to bring alive abstract knowledge about nutrition while learning simple culinary techniques and principles to create dishes that:

  • Represent the best of current evidence-based nutritional guidelines
  • Emphasize whole food, plant-based diets with a wide variety of multi-colored vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds and herbs and spices
  • Teach about cooking with sources of healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates
  • Are lower in sodium while high in flavor
  • Follow food safety and sanitation principles
  • Are easy to prepare, inexpensive and delicious

Curriculum at a Glance

In addition to examining principles of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, learners in both courses get hands-on cooking instruction from a chef and/or culinarian with a focus on making healthy and delicious culturally appropriate dishes, using efficient food preparation techniques, and helping patients make practical changes to eating and shopping habits.

Application Process

This is an elective course for students currently enrolled in the School of Medicine at University of California, Irvine.


David Kilgore, MD
Chef Jessica VanRoo
Kim Storm, MS, RD
Sherry Schulman, MS