Emory Healthy Kitchen Collaborative

Teaching kitchens are an increasingly popular and fun setting for building lifelong skills that promote healthy habits and long-term health. Using culinary instruction as the foundation, teaching kitchen programs incorporate other self-care techniques, such as nutrition, mindfulness, resilience, and physical activity. Under the leadership of Dr. David Eisenberg, adjunct associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, an international Teaching Kitchen Collaborative (TKC) of medical professionals, chefs, educators, researchers, and food system experts is working on advancing personal health and health of the planet through food.

Teaching kitchens currently exist in various settings, including healthcare systems, community health centers, and corporations. At worksites, they contribute to a culture of health and wellness, improve employee engagement and productivity, equip employees with skills and attitudes supportive of long-term health and happiness, and help with disease and weight management and developing stress resilience. Teaching kitchens also offer a unique, interactive opportunity for team building.

Emory Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness is leading in innovative development and implementation of teaching kitchens and their evaluation and related research.

Dr. Sharon Bergquist founded Emory Healthy Kitchen Collaborative (EHKC) in 2019 as a worksite wellness pilot program offered to Emory employees. It is a multidisciplinary, skill-building, hands-on program intended to support positive lifestyle changes, weight management, and overall wellness.

EHKC begins with a 10-week evidence-based, fun, and interactive curriculum led by Emory experts in nutrition, exercise, ethnobotany, mindfulness eating, and resilience. It combines several learning styles – lectures and experiential learning, one-on-one support and group discussion, live classes, and pre-recorded lectures. Participants learn to make healthy foods in the kitchen, experience mind-body connection doing yoga, tune into their bodies while meditating, and recognize their hunger and satiety cues.



Dr. Bergquist continues to lead the Emory Healthy Kitchen Collaborative.

“The goal of this program is to teach people skills that can change their habits for life,” says Bergquist. “Part of the way we’re different from other programs is that we’re focused on skill-building. For example, we’re not just giving people a recipe to follow. We want to help them learn how to cook.”

Two major components set this program aside from other worksite wellness programs. First, the program is multi-dimensional.

“A lot of existing programs motivate people to exercise more. Other programs may challenge people to eat healthier. This one brings together different components of wellness into one program, and the importance of that is that the sum is greater than the parts,” explains Dr. Bergquist. “When you bring these components together, the synergy creates alignment of physical, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. It's the alignment that leads to transformation.”

Secondly, this is an evidence-based program.

“It is led by faculty and staff at Emory that have many decades of experience in their field, not just clinically but also in research,” says Dr. Bergquist. “It brings science directly to the consumer. And it was developed by a large team with expertise and passion in their field.”

We will soon be offering the Emory Healthy Kitchen Collaborative program in a virtual environment. This new format will help address the challenges of the pandemic, and utilize novel ways to make the program more accessible, expanding our geographic footprint.

Our goal is to bring this program to our employees, patients, students, corporate partners, and our community. If you would like to learn more or participate in the program, please reach out to us at healthykitchen@emoryhealthcare.org.

We want to give special thanks to the Ardmore Institute of Health for their support of Emory Healthy Kitchen Collaborative.