2024 Health meets Food: the Culinary Medicine Conference Speakers

2024 Health meets Food: the Culinary Medicine Conference Speakers


Adante Hart


Adante Hart is a Registered Dietitian, nutrition educator, speaker, and enthusiast of all things food, culture, and health. He strives to advance food sovereignty, and increase community and individual agency over wellbeing and quality of life. Drawing from a wealth of experience working in and around food, from academia to agriculture, farming, healthcare, restaurants, and non-profits, Adante presents on topics that reside at the intersection of nutrition, accessibility, foodways, and health.

He currently serves as an Outreach Dietitian for Oldways and has served in various roles with Rouxbe Cooking School, the Southern Foodways Alliance, and the National Organization of Blacks in Nutrition and Dietetics (NOBIDAN). Additionally, Adante serves as a Team Member of Tall Grass Food Box, a community-supported agriculture business that supports and encourages the sustainability of Black farmers in local food systems. He holds an MPH from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a BS from The Johns Hopkins University. He currently resides in Raleigh, NC and enjoys all things related to food, technology, and media production.

Kelly LeBlanc


Kelly LeBlanc (formerly Toups) joined Oldways in 2014 to promote whole grains and healthy cultural food traditions. A registered dietitian by training, Kelly graduated from the University of Texas with BS in nutrition, where she spent a summer studying the Mediterranean diet in Sicily, and completed her dietetic internship through the University of Texas coordinated program. Kelly also holds a Masters degree in Gastronomy from Boston University, with a concentration in food policy.

As Oldways’ Director of Nutrition, Kelly is responsible for the design, direction and oversight of the organization’s multiple nutrition-related programs, including but not limited to: Mediterranean, African Heritage, Latin American Heritage, Asian Heritage, and the Whole Grains Council. Specifically, Kelly works with other staff members developing and promoting Oldways’ heritage diet cooking and nutrition curricula, conferences and special events, educational resources, and other related nutrition content. Before joining Oldways, Kelly was a research fellow for Frances Moore Lappé, and also managed an award winning healthy eating program for Boston College Dining Services.

Krista Varady, PhD

University of Illinois Chicago

Krista Varady, PhD, is a Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her research focuses on the efficacy of intermittent fasting for weight loss and metabolic disease reduction in people with obesity. Her work is funded by the NIH, American Heart Association, International Life Sciences Institute, and the University of Illinois. She has published over 100 publications on this topic, and is also the author of a book for the general public, entitled the “Every Other Day Diet”.

Dr. Robert Lustig

University of California San Francisco

Dr. Lustig is Professor emeritus of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He specializes in the field of neuroendocrinology, with an emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system.

His research and clinical practice has focused on childhood obesity and diabetes. Dr. Lustig has fostered a global discussion of metabolic health and nutrition, exposing some of the leading myths that underlie the current pandemic of diet-related disease. He believes the food business, by pushing processed food loaded with sugar, has hacked our bodies and minds to pursue pleasure instead of happiness, fostering today’s epidemics of addiction and depression. Yet by focusing on real food, we can beat the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity, and disease.

The New York Times bestselling author’s new book, Metabolical, explains the eight pathologies that underlie all chronic disease, documents how processed food has impacted them to ruin our health, economy, and environment over the past 50 years, and proposes an urgent manifesto and strategy to cure both us and the planet.

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Dr. Ed McDonald

University of Chicago

Dr. Ed McDonald is a trained chef and board certified physician dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities through nutrition education.  He obtained his undergraduate education at the University of Michigan and his medical education at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. During medical school, he developed an interest in community health education and subsequently developed program focusing on training local hip-hop and spoken word artists as health educators with funding support from the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.  This program was inspired by his experience of training barbers as health educators at the CNN featured, Project Brotherhood, a clinic focusing on the health of African-American men in Chicago.  His experience at Project Brotherhood made him keenly aware of the impact of social determinants of health, but he was most interested in the effects of nutrition on health and disease.

After medical school, he completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Northwestern.  As a resident, Dr. McDonald often shared recipes with his clinic patients at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.  Witnessing the effects of simple lifestyle interventions on the health of his patients prompted him to seek further training in nutrition.  He then completed a fellowship in clinical nutrition at the University of Chicago and culinary training at the prestigious Kendall College School of Culinary Arts. He subsequently completed a fellowship in Gastroenterology at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. McDonald currently is an Assistant Professor in Gastroenterology at the University of Chicago. He is also the Associate Director of Adult Nutrition at the University and an instructor in culinary medicine.

Dr. McDonald has conducted basic science research in gastroenterology with funding through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).  He has presented research at national meetings including Digestive Disease Week. His current research interests include small intestinal disorders, obesity, nutrition education, health disparities, and colon cancer prevention. His articles have been featured in scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.

Chef Dan Giusti


Before Brigaid, I served as Executive Chef of 1789 in Washington, D.C. and Head Chef of Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2016, I founded Brigaid, guided by the belief that everyone deserves real, wholesome food, cooked with care and passion. For me, one of the biggest misconceptions about institutional kitchens is regarding the people who work within them. There is this stereotype that maybe they don’t really care about the food they are preparing or the people they are serving, but they really do care. In most cases, they just haven’t been set up for success to do the job they’ve been asked to do.

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Alicia Tucker, MD, FAAP

George Washington University

Alicia Tucker, M.D., FAAP, ABOM is a pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. She works clinically in child and adolescent obesity medicine with the Children’s National IDEAL Clinic, a multidisciplinary tertiary care weight management program. Over the past decade Dr. Tucker has worked with students, residents, and faculty to support education around pediatric obesity and diet related chronic disease. Her advocacy work centers around how social determinants of health impact access to quality nutrition and how building clinical-community collaboratives can improve health outcomes.

Ayis Pyrros, MD

Duly Health

I know that medical testing can be stressful, so I do everything I can to put patients’ minds at ease. I believe in being approachable and explaining test results in order to empower patients and their families. I enjoy helping patients find the answers they are looking for.


Ali Mostashari, Ph.D.


Ali Mostashari, Ph.D. is a co-founder of LifeNome, a genomics AI company headquartered in New York City. Prior to LifeNome, Ali was an Associate Professor and Program Director at the School of Systems and Enterprises at Stevens Institute of Technology, where he directed the institute’s Smart Cities initiative and systems thinking research. From 2004-2008 he served as a LEAD Program Manager and Strategic Resource Manager respectively at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York City overseeing a development portfolio of over $1.2 billion

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