The Culinary Medicine Program at Tulane University

Leadership and Faculty


Chef Heather Nace, leadership of the Culinary Medicine Program at Tulane UniversityChef Heather Nace

Director of Operations

Heather Nace is originally from Baltimore, MD and graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Culinary Nutrition in May 2018. After completing her senior internship at GCCM, she accepted a full-time position in October 2018 and moved to New Orleans. In her role as Director of Operations, she is able to combine her experience of running a small business for twelve years with her knowledge of food and nutrition.

She provides organizational and administrative support for community programming, clinic operations, and special events as well as kitchen assistance. Heather is also continuing to pursue her nutrition education through the completion of a dietetic internship with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian by Fall 2020. She looks forward to continuing to inspire others to achieve better health by sharing her knowledge and passions for food, nutrition education, and cooking.

Chef Amber Dyer, member of the leadership at the Culinary Medicine Program at Tulane UniversityChef Amber Dyer

Assistant Program Director

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Amber Dyer received her B.S. in Culinary Nutrition and Food Science from Johnson & Wales University in 2017. Her professional background is sprinkled with a wide variety of food and beverage science, research and development, as well as nutrition and wellness education with an emphasis on whole-body nutrition. Amber was drawn into the vibrant city of New Orleans to be a part of GCCM’s team and share her passion for culinary medicine with the local community and patients. As the Assistant Program Director, she oversees research projects with our partner sites, manages volunteers & interns, conducts recipe development and heads the kid’s community nutrition and culinary programming.

Chef Katie Pedroza, a member of the leadership of the Culinary Medicine Program at Tulane UniversityChef Katie Pedroza

Community Programming Educator

Katie Pedroza, a native of Cincinnati, graduated from the University of Akron with her degree in Culinary Arts in 2001. She promptly moved to New Orleans. Katie relocated to New Orleans to continue her culinary education working at renowned restaurants such as Dante’s Kitchen, Emeril’s Delmonico, MiLa and Coquette.

Leaving restaurants for culinary education, she worked for Edible Schoolyard New Orleans for 5 years. At Goldring since 2015, she teaches Community and Family classes, where she feels she is making an impact on the health and wellbeing of New Orleans residents.


Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMSTimothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS


“Eating well and eating healthy is the same thing,” says Dr. Tim Harlan, aka Dr. Gourmet,who discovered his love of food long before embarking on a successful career as a physician. By the age of 18, Harlan was managing his first restaurant and had learned cooking techniques from some of the finest chefs. He subsequently opened an intimate French bistro at age 22.

Returning to school to pursue a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Dr. Harlan found his way to medicine. While completing his degree at Emory University School of Medicine, he began writing about the clear link between food and health, blending his extensive knowledge of food and nutrition with his medical expertise.

Chef Kerri Dotson, RDN, LDN, leadership member of the Culinary Medicine ProgramChef Kerri Dotson, RDN, LDN


Chef/RD Kerri Dotson has worked in diverse areas of nutrition and foodservice industries including restaurants, critical care, public health, maternal health, outpatient counseling, and community nutrition since receiving her B.S. in Culinary Nutrition from Johnson & Wales University and completing her Dietetic Internship at Tulane University. She combines her passion for food and nutrition to develop and execute culinary medicine programming for medical students, medical professionals, food service professionals and the community. Through this revolutionary and interdisciplinary program bridging culinary arts, science, nutrition and medicine, participants learn how to cook food that is affordable, healthful, easy to prepare, and most of all, delicious.

Culinary Medicine Programming at Tulane University

Tulane University started its culinary medicine initiative in 2012 becoming the first medical school to have a chef on faculty and a dedicated teaching kitchen. The Health meets Food curriculum was first piloted for medical students at Tulane University in 2012. In 2013, the Golding Center began offering free cooking classes for the community at large. In the early stages, classes were held in ad hoc kitchens in churches, libraries, community centers, etc across New Orleans. This immersion in New Orleans community kitchens strengthened the community focused mission of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine. In August 2014, the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine found a permanent home inside the ReFresh Project in Midcity New Orleans, LA.

Culinary Medicine Programming for Medical Students at Tulane University

As leaders in the culinary medicine movement, Tulane University has implemented a fully integrated comprehensive curriculum for medical students emphasizing the significant role food choices and nutrition plays in preventing and managing obesity and associated diseases. Medical students have many opportunities to participate in culinary medicine programming through their time at Tulane.

All culinary medicine programming for medical students and medical professionals is presented in an inverted classroom model. Students are required to complete 1-hour online work including reviewing the lecture video, required article, and quiz prior to class. The three-hour in person class includes hands-on cooking, plate discussion, case-based learning activity, and group discussion complete with a meal from the food prepared by the students.

Medical students participate in three culinary medicine classes during their first two years as part of Foundations in Medicine compulsory coursework. Students also have the option to take two culinary medicine electives in their first or second year.

  1. The first elective options is considered the “traditional” culinary medicine elective. This consists of 8 modules plus a project module covering foundational culinary medicine principles including Food Allergies and Intolerance, Diabetes and Carbohydrates, and more.
  2. The second elective option is considered the “hybrid” culinary medicine elective consisting of seven modules including an Introduction and Motivational Interviewing module. The hybrid elective is combined with Adult Community Beginner cooking classes. Medical students are paired with community class groups and cook alongside community members, working as a group facilitator. Medical students lead nutrition discussions on the topic of the day in small groups allowing them to build relationships with community members and counseling skills. Students receive both elective credit and service-learning credit through the hybrid elective module.

Third- and fourth-year medical students are required to complete five Interdisciplinary Seminar (IDS) Series prior to graduation. The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine offers culinary medicine modules on a monthly basis to satisfy the IDS requirement. Topics vary monthly covering a range from Pediatric Diet, PKU Nutrition, Bariatric Surgery and more.

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine also offers a four-week rotation for fourth year medical students. The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine accepts both Tulane students and visiting students from other institutions around the country. This four-week rotation offers students a deeper dive into culinary medicine curriculum. Students learn to lead hands-on cooking classes for the community and other medical students, lead case-based learning activities for first- and second-year medical students, complete a research project on a current nutrition topic or trend and curriculum project. Students work in an interdisciplinary environment with chefs, RDs, MDs, culinary interns, dietetic interns, and undergraduate students.

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine has maintained an excellent relationship with Johnson & Wales University. Tulane medical students have the opportunity to complete a four-week visiting rotation at Johnson & Wales University to further enhance their culinary nutrition knowledge by immersing themselves in culinary school. Students attend nutrition lectures, hands-on culinary fundamental classes, and hands-on culinary nutrition classes.

Culinary Medicine Programming for Residents at Tulane University

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine works with a number of Tulane Residency programs to offer hands-on culinary medicine programming throughout residency. This includes internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, OBGYN, and more.


Culinary Medicine Programming for Dietetic Interns at Tulane University

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine precepts dietetic interns from Tulane University and distance programs for two-week rotations. During the rotation dietetic interns assist in leading culinary medicine programming for medical students and community members, complete a research project on a current nutrition topic or trend, develop curriculum and/or handouts, and develop a seasonal recipe for the onsite ReFresh farmers market. Dietetic Interns work alongside chefs, RDs, MDs, medical students, culinary interns, undergraduate students, and community members during the rotation. They learn practical skills to communicate nutrition education and curriculum to a variety of audiences.

Tulane dietetic interns receive four hands-on cooking class geared designed for dietetic professionals during the ten month internship. The modules dietetic interns complete are:

Introduction to Culinary Medicine
Carbohydrates and Diabetes
Renal and SodiumMindfulness
Motivational Interviewing


Community programming and education remains at the forefront of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine’s core mission. The Goldring Center hosts free classes for the community three-to-four days per week, year round. Programming includes six- week series for for adult beginners, adult intermediate, families (ages 5 +), and children (ages 8 – 12). Community members cook alongside chefs, medical students, dietetic interns, and culinary interns to prepare delicious, flavorful, and healthy food through simple concepts and techniques that participants can implement in their own kitchen. Each 2-hour long class includes cook time, a plate discussion reviewing each recipe prepared, a group discussion on the topic of the day and a family meal to enjoy the food prepared. Classes can accommodate up to 24. Concepts covered in the 6-week series include culinary techniques, realistic tips, meal planning, cross utilization, shopping, and eating on a budget. Adult classes are offered on weeknights from 5:30 – 7:30pm, family classes are offered on Sunday evenings from 4:30 – 6:45pm and kids cooking classes are offered on Saturday mornings from 10am – 12pm.

Internal Team Building

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine is expanding its footprint by offering team building culinary medicine workshops and rental for meeting space (with AV equipment). Interested in holding your next meeting, birthday party, bridal shower, corporate team building event or more at the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine? Contact Heather Nace, All fees help fund free community programming.

Research and Publications

Presentations at Local, State, National, and International Professional Meetings

DeValle N, Desai A, Monlezun DJ, McGowan G, Sarris L, Harlan TS. The first social innovation comparative effectiveness trial for employee wellness programming with hands-on cooking and nutrition education. Soc Gen Intern Med. 2015.

Arman D, Shepard S, Monlezun DJ, McGowan G, Sarris L, Harlan TS. A novel simulation-based comparative effectiveness trial to improve resident nutrition education competencies and patient outcomes. Soc Gen Intern Med. 2015.

Day D, Monlezun DJ, Budnick I, Sarris L, Harlan TS. World’s first multi-center comparative effectiveness trial for simulation-based medical education with deliberate practice for nutrition education: multivariate model normalization for baseline. Soc Gen Intern Med. 2015.

Monlezun DJ, Coleman J, Feigenbaum S, Cardello F, McGowan G, Sarris L, Harlan TS. Cooking in the desert: novel social network-driven development of the first evidence-based hands on cooking and nutrition education for systematically improving patient outcomes and reducing health disparities. Soc Gen Intern Med. 2015.

Dart L, Vanbeber A, D’Agostino D, Smith-Barbaro P, Farmer D, Argenbright K, Aspegren K, Monlezun D, Sarris L, Harlan T. A culinary medicine course for health professionals: recipe for better health. TX Acad Nutr Diet Food Nutr Conf. 2015.

Monlezun DJ, Harlan TS. A teaching kitchen based multi-center culinary medicine education initiative for medical students improves attitudes towards dietary counseling, personal health habits and nutrition knowledge. Am Pub Hlth Assoc Annual Meeting. 2015.

Saccoccia B, Monlezun DJ, McGowan G, Lakhmani P, Sarris L, Harlan TS. Tulane based teaching kitchen pilot study improves HbA1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol for patients with type II diabetes. American Association of Diabetes Educators. 2015.

McGowan G, Monlezun DJ, Saccoccia B, Lakhmani P, Sarris L, Harlan TS. Nutrition in medical education: comparing dietary habits, attitudes, and competencies of medical students in both traditional medical education and hands-on cooking and nutrition classes. American Association of Diabetes Educators. 2015.

Urday P, Monlezun DJ, Harlan TS. A pinch of experience: integrated clinical nutrition curriculum as continuing medical education for practicing physicians. J Invest Med. 2014;62(2):555.

Urday P, Monlezun DJ, Harlan TS. Integrated hands-on cooking and clinical nutrition curriculum improves pediatric residents’ competencies and attitudes toward nutrition education for patients. J Invest Med. 2014;62(2):533.

Hill K, Monlezun DJ, Harlan TS. Novel application of genomics heat map model for meta-analysis of clinical nutrition curriculums to improve physician-guided nutritional lifestyle management of chronic disease. J Invest Med. 2014;62(2):554.

Faruqi J, Monlezun DJ, TS Harlan. Will increasing premedical student exposure to registered dieticians in cooking sessions improve future physicians’ nutritional education for patients? J Invest Med. 2014;62(2):555.

Monlezun DJ, Birkhead A, Leong B, Sarris L, Harlan TS. Optimizing clinical nutrition competencies and health habits with medical student-led hands-on cooking Demonstrations for Underserved Communities. AMSA. 2014.

Monlezun DJ, Coleman J, Peters B, Sarris L, Harlan T. Have your cake and eat it too: a novel collaboration between a fresh market store and a medical school-based teaching kitchen with student-led cooking and nutrition classes. Am Pub Hlth Assoc. 2014.

Kay D, Abu-Shamat L, Leong B, Monlezun DJ, Sarris L, Harlan T. Improving medical student nutritional counseling competency. J Invest Med. 2013;61(2):511.

Leong B, Monlezun DJ, Kay D, Abu-Shamat L, Harlan T. An innovative approach towards nutrition education in a medical school curriculum. Am Pub Hea Assoc. 2012.

Monlezun DJ, Rodman A, Telsey B, Leong B, Abu-Shamat L, Kay D, Green D, Sarris L, Harlan T. Monitoring USDA nutritional guidelines adherence with novel application of digital photography in elementary school meals. Exp Bio/ASN. 2013.

Monlezun DJ, Rodman A, Telsey B, Leong B, Abu-Shamat L, Kay D, Green D, Sarris L, Harlan T. Enhancing medical student competence with USDA nutritional guidelines. Exp Bio/ASN. 2013.

Joo E, Monlezun DJ, Birkhead A, Leong B, Abu-Shamat L, Kay D, Sarris L, Harlan T. Creation of an evidence-based medical school nutritional education curriculum. Exp Bio/ASN. 2013.

Kay D, Abu-Shamat L, Leong B, Monlezun D, Sarris L, Harlan T. Will improving student dietary habits change patient counseling perceptions? Exp Bio/ASN. 2013.

Birkhead A, Loyd J, Leong B, Joo E, Monlezun DJ, Kay D, Abu-Shamat L, Sarris L, Harlan T. Just what the doctor ordered: nutritional education through community-based cooking classes. Exp Bio/ASN. 2013.

Leong B, Abu-Shamat L, Kay D, Monlezun DJ, Sarris L, Harlan T. An innovative approach to balance lifestyle modification and medication therapy in chronic disease management. Exp Bio/ASN. 2013.

Leong B, Monlezun DJ, Kay D, Abu-Shamat L, Azevedo B, Sarris L, Harlan T. Towards nutrition education in a clinical curriculum. AAMC: SGEA/SGSA/OSR. 2013.

Leong B, Monlezun DJ, Abu-Shamat L, Kay D, Azevedo B, Sarris L, Harlan T. An evaluation of a culinary curriculum to teach nutrition science to medical students. 2013.

Monlezun DJ, Azevedo B, Leong B, Kay D, Abu-Shamat L, Sarris L, Harlan T. Innovative informatics-driven optimization of clinical nutrition curriculum for medical students. 2013.


Liang Y, Cheng L, Siler M, and Albin J. Culinary Medicine Elective: Why and How to Launch Nutrition Curriculum for Medical Students.  Presented at Health Meets Food: The Culinary Medicine Conference June 2018 in New Orleans, LA.

Nguyen H and Albin J. Building a Food Foundation: Developing a Four-Week Nutrition Elective for Senior Medical Students. Presented at Health Meets Food: The Culinary Medicine Conference June 2018 in New Orleans, LA.

Marshall H, Pruitt S, Bowen M, Siler M, and Albin J. Food as Medicine: A Pilot Nutrition Curriculum for Children of Participants in a Community-Based Culinary Medicine Class. Presented at Health Meets Food: The Culinary Medicine Conference June 2018 in New Orleans, LA.

Mathew P, Pruitt SL, Siler M, Albin JL, Bowen M. Food as Medicine: A Food Demonstration Curriculum for Food Pantry Clients. Presented locally at “Going from Hunger to Health” the 7th annual Dallas Hunger Summit September 2018.

Albin J and Siler M.  Culinary Medicine: How Launching Hands-On Nutrition Curriculum Takes Medical Students from the Kitchen to the Community. Presented after peer review at UTSW’s Women in Science and Medicine Celebration (WISMC) in Dallas, TX and UT Kenneth Shine MD Academy of Health Science Education Innovations Conference in Austin, TX, both in February 2019.  Awarded 3rd place poster at UT Shine Innovations Conference.

Philips A, Sparks M, Gonzalez C, Siler M, Bowen M, Pruitt S, and Albin J. Collaborative Solutions to Food Insecurity: Engaging Medical Students in Community Nutrition Education at Food Distribution Sites in Dallas, TX.  Presented locally at the 8th annual Dallas Hunger Summit September 2019.


Monlezun DJ, Kasprowicz E, Tosh K, Nix J, Urday P, Tice D, Sarris L, Harlan TS. Medical school-based teaching kitchen improves HbA1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol for patients with type 2 diabetes: results from a novel randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2015; 109(2): 420-6. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2015.05.007.

Monlezun DJ, Leong B, Joo E, Birkhead AG, Sachs BP, Sarris L, Harlan TS. Novel longitudinal and propensity-score matched analysis of hands-on cooking and nutrition education versus traditional clinical education among 627 medical students. Advances in Preventive Medicine. 2015; 2015;2015:656780. doi: 10.1155/2015/656780.

Leong B, Ren D, Monlezun DJ, Ly D, Sarris L, Harlan TS. Teaching 3rd & 4th year medical students how to cook: an innovative approach to balance lifestyle modification and medication therapy in chronic disease management. Medical Science Educator. 2014;24(1)43. doi: 10.1007/s40670-014-0014-5.

Birkhead A, Foote S, Monlezun DJ, Loyd J, Joo E, Leong B, Sarris L, Harlan T. Medical student-led community cooking classes: a novel preventative medicine model easy to swallow. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2014;46(3):e41-e42. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2013.11.006.

Kasprowicz E, Monlezun DJ, Harlan TS. Reducing sodium intake to prevent stroke. Stroke. 2014;45(6):e108. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.005157.

Monlezun DJ, Tsai P, Sarris L, Harlan T. Recipe for cancer education: a novel integrated cooking and nutrition education curriculum for medical students and physicians in dietary preventive and supplemental treatment for pancreatic cancer. Journal of Medicine & the Person. 2014; 12(3):125-128. doi: 10.1007/s12682-014-0190-5.

Monlezun DJ, Urday P, Baranwal P, Lister WM, Williamson A, Malhotra S, Sarris L, Harlan TS. Cooking up better doctors as teachers globally: a novel integrated nutrition and cooking class curriculum for pediatric residents to boost their competencies and attitudes in patient counseling. Journal of Medicine & the Person. 2015; 13(2):125-128. doi: 10.1007/s12682-014-0199-9.

Monlezun DJ, Matamoros N, Huggins C, Michaud D, Sarris L, Harlan T. Biting into integrated quality improvement: medical student and staff blinded taste test for sodium reduction improving medical education and care? Journal of Medicine & the Person. 2015; 13(2): 112-117. doi: 10.1007/s12682-014-0200-7.

Monlezun DJ, Ly D, Rolfsen M, Green D, Trudeau E, Rodman A, Telsey B, Davis E, Sarris L, Harlan TS. Digital photography assessment of 1,750 elementary and middle school student lunch meals demonstrates improved nutrition with increased exposure to hands-on cooking and gardening classes. Journal of Medicine & the Person. 2015; 13(2): 129-134. doi: 10.1007/s12682-014-0203-4.

Arman D, Monlezun DJ, Peters B, Urday P, Cutler H, Pellicore D, Lim HJ, Sarris L, Harlan TS. CHOP-International: An open access nutrition education tool for physicians, resident doctors, and medical and public health students. Journal of Medicine & the Person. 2015; doi: 10.1007/s12682-014-0202-5.

Monlezun DJ, Dart L, Vanbeber A, Smith-Barbaro P, Costilla V, Samuel C, Terrigino CA, Abali EE, Dollinger B, Baumgartner N, Kramer N, Seelochan A, Taher S, Deutchman M, Evans M, Ellis RB, Oyola S, Maker-Clark G, Dreibelbis T, Budnick I, Tran D, DeValle N, Shepard R, Chow E, Petrin C, Razavi A, McGowan C, Grant A, Bird M, Carry C, McGowan G, McCullough C, Berman CM, Dotson K, Niu T, Sarris L, Harlan TS, and on behalf of the CHOP Co-investigators. Machine Learning-Augmented Propensity Score-Adjusted Multilevel Mixed Effects Panel Analysis of Hands-On Cooking and Nutrition Education versus Traditional Curriculum for Medical Students as Preventive Cardiology: Multisite Cohort Study of 3,248 Trainees over 5 Years. BioMed Research International. 2018;

McWhorter, J. W., Raber, M., Sharma, S., Moore, L. S., & Hoelscher, D. (2018). The Nourish Program: An Innovative Model for Cooking, Gardening, and Clinical Care Skill Enhancement for Dietetics Students. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Lawrence JC, Knol LL, Clem J, de la O R, Henson CS, Streiffer RH. Integration of Interprofessional Education (IPE) Core Competencies into Health Care Education: IPE Meets Culinary Medicine. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2019;51(4):510-512. DOI:10.1016/j.jneb.2019.01.013

Razavi, A. C., Monlezun, D. J., Sapin, A., Sarris, L., Schlag, E., Dyer, A., & Harlan, T. (2019). Etiological Role of Diet in 30-Day Readmissions for Heart Failure: Implications for Reducing Heart Failure–Associated Costs via Culinary Medicine. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Razavi, Alexander C.; Monlezun, Dominique; Sapin, Alexander; Stauber, Zachary; Schradle, Kara; Schlag, Emily; Dyer, Amber;
Gagen, Brennan; McCormack, Isabella; Akhiwu, Ofure; Sarris, Leah; Dotson, Kerri; Harlan, Timothy. Multisite Culinary Medicine Curriculum Associates with Cardioprotective Dietary Patterns and Lifestyle Medicine Competencies Among Medical Trainees. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. In Press.

Zachary Stauber, Alexander C. Razavi, Leah Sarris, Timothy S. Harlan, Dominique J. Monlezun.(2019) Multisite Medical Student–Led Community Culinary Medicine Classes Improve Patients’ Diets: Machine Learning–Augmented Propensity Score–Adjusted Fixed Effects Cohort Analysis of 1381 Subjects. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. DOI:10.1177/1559827619893602

Media Coverage


Tulane University is a key partner in the New Orleans ReFresh project bringing healthy living to a blighted inner city New Orleans neighborhood.

The project, located in a former grocery store on Broad and Bienville Streets, includes a fresh and healthy grocery, commercial kitchens for healthy school food service providers, café and retail space, office space for community and mission-driven organizations, and a community education and engagement space.

Opened in August 2014, the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine offers free healthy cooking classes to the community as well as teaching future physicians and practicing doctors how to change the dialogue they have with their patients about food and nutrition.  The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University offers an innovative, integrated approach to nutrition education for medical students and community members.

For the first time, a medical school has implemented a fully integrated, comprehensive curriculum for doctors, medical students, chefs and community members focused on the significant role that food choices and nutrition play in preventing and managing obesity and associated diseases in America.

In addition to instructing students, programming within the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine offers cooking classes for patients of Tulane’s community clinics and the New Orleans community.


Initial seed-funding for the program came from the Dean of the School of Medicine at the time Benjamin Sachs.  The Goldring Family Foundation and The Woldenberg Family Foundation provided start-up capital in 2012.   Programming is now supported by the Dean’s office under the leadership of Dr. Lee Hamm.


All culinary medicine programs face similar challenges. Sustainable funding, faculty time support, dedicated kitchen space, and recognition as an evidence-based field are just a few of the challenges we’ve navigated. Interdisciplinary collaboration, persistence, engagement of dedicated students and other learners, and pursuing research are all helpful strategies to enable continued implementation of this life-changing programming.


Your Cart

Cart is empty.