The Culinary Medicine Program at the University of California Irvine

The Culinary Medicine Program at the University of California Irvine

Leadership and Faculty

David Kilgore, MD, FAAFP, a member of the faculty of the Culinary Medicine Program at the University of California IrvineDavid Kilgore, MD, FAAFP

Director, Integrative Medicine Track
UCI Family Medicine Residency Program
Vice Chair and Clinical Professor of Family Medicine
UCI Department of Family Medicine
Quest Physician Champion

Nimisha K. Parekh, FACG, AGAF

Clinical Professor of Medicine
Director, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program
Program Director, Gastroenterology Fellowship Program
University of California Irvine

Culinary Medicine Programming for Medical Students at the University of California Irvine

Programming was launched in the 2016 – 2017 academic year. The Health meets Food courseware is offered as an elective with 18 medical students in each cohort. The programming is located at a teaching kitchen in the Anteater Recreation Center to first and second year medical students. The elective is offered as a 5 module series that fits within the semester scheduling. The programming is offered from 5:30 to 8:30 in the evenings and the majority of the students in the Fall semester are second years with first years in the Spring semester.

The following Health meets Food modules are offered:

Module 01 – Introduction to Culinary Medicine
Module 03 – Fats
Module 06 – Sodium, Potassium Renal Homeostasis
Module 07 – Carbohydrates
Module 16 – Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Pre-workshop Session Material: The students are assigned the lecture and the required reading as well as the patient education material, but are not required to complete the quiz. They are notified a week prior to each modules and provided with supplemental materials.

Workshop Session Agenda: At the start of each workshop, a sub-group of students give brief bullet learning points from the module material covered in that session. At the first workshop session, faculty model giving a bullet point educational overview, then before leaving that day, students sign up for which module they want to give bullet learning points for in the future.

Following the student bullet points, the physician and dietitian faculty briefly reinforce key learning points, adding other new or interesting information from recent literature relevant to that module. The chef/culinarian then reviews the recipes for each group that day, offering key points to be aware of, chef tips/tricks, etc.

After Cooking and plating up food for the family dinner, we always do a brief mindful eating moment, varying the focus of the mindful eating each time to introduce different mindful eating approaches that students may want to try for themselves and future patients. During eating, we review a patient case for each module (put together by our faculty) as a larger group (rather than in small groups).

Adjustments: UCI has created a hybrid model using some of the courseware and blending with student and faculty. Recipes are chosen to reflect California cuisine and ethnic influences.

Case Study: UCI has swapped out some exercises using more that are clinically oriented toward patients in California. This includes a focus on differential diagnosis and how a clinician would interact with a patient to support healthy food and lifestyle choices.

Expansion for the coming academic year is in the planning stages. The goal is to expand to more advanced programming for medical students. This may involve the teaching kitchen at the clinic, a Federally Qualified Health Clinic. There has been strong student interest in putting what they learned to practical use, having opportunities to participate in hands-on teaching of patients, ideally in the context of a community clinic teaching kitchen.

The Culinary Medicine Program for Residents at the University of California Irvine

No programming up until now – we’re in early planning stages for resident involvement in the FQHC teaching kitchen classes.

The Culinary Medicine Program for Fellowship Programs at the University of California Irvine

Gastroenterology Fellowship is preparing to launch programming with plans to track specific outcomes measures. Dr. Nimisha K. Parekh, Program Director, Gastroenterology Fellowship Program, and Dr. Ankush Kalra are leading the Fellowship project and research effort.

The Culinary Medicine Program for Community Members at the University of California Irvine

Community programming is being offered at the teaching kitchen at the clinic, a Federally Qualified Health Clinic, primarily to the Latino community.

Research and Publications from the Culinary Medicine Program at the University of California Irvine

None yet, but we are doing pre/post evaluations of our FQHC teaching kitchen classes that will be publishable down the road.

Media Coverage of he Culinary Medicine Program at the University of California Irvine

Spectrum News shared the culinary medicine story on her Twitter.

UCI School of Medicine’s culinary class gives doctors practical skills to help patients live healthier lives

UCI School of Medicine Class Teaches Doctors About Culinary Medicine

UCI Magazine Lilibeth Garcia and Steven Zylius

UC Irvine Health – Live Well blog Karin Klein and Kevin Equitz


The elective series has been quite popular with the medical students, generating more students interested than we’re able to accommodate every semester. I’ve been very pleased with the adaptation of the recipes to a more West Coast cuisine – they have been popular with the students as well.

The classes have attracted higher SOM and general University leadership attention.


The Culinary Medicine program at UC Irvine is part of the Integrative Medicine education program at the Medical School.


Scheduling – the teaching kitchen has many other uses, and the Chef, Physician and Dietitian faculty all have full time jobs with their own schedule restrictions. This together with the many other competing activities and test schedules of the students always makes for a challenge finding dates for the Culinary Medicine program each semester that match all those variables.

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