The Teaching Kitchen Collaborative (TKC) is a dynamic, action-oriented network of thought-leading organizations with existing and/or planned teaching kitchens that are capable of shaping next-generation strategy and collaborative research on best practices for integrative lifestyle transformation across settings. Our vision is that teaching kitchens are used as catalysts of enhanced personal and public health across medical, corporate, school and community settings. Our mission is to enable early adopters to learn about each other’s facilities and educational programs, to develop best practices for reproducing and scaling various models and programs, and to explore the creation of a research network to assess the clinical, behavioral, and financial impact of recommended best practices.
In 1998, Dr. David Eisenberg conceived of the idea of a “teaching kitchen,” and brought this idea to the attention of Mark Erickson, then Dean of Culinary Education at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and Professor Walter Willett, then Chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan School). Dr. Eisenberg conveyed his desire to “see teaching kitchens built in hospitals, medical schools, and other venues.” Collectively, Dr. Eisenberg, Professor Willett, and Chef Erickson determined that a strategic first step towards the creation of “teaching kitchens” would be to develop an educational conference for health professionals and chefs. Thus was born the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives (HKHL) conference®, which has been co-presented by the Harvard Chan School and The CIA since 2006.
The goal of HKHL is to provide medical professionals with state of the science updates relating to nutrition science, exercise and movement, mindfulness, and health coaching. These presentations are interspersed with culinary instructors from the CIA demonstrating how health-enhancing take-home messages can be translated into the preparation of healthy, delicious, easy-to-make, affordable, sustainable recipes. This educational conference, which has since been offered 15 times and attended by more than 6,000 registrants, provides participants with both didactic and experiential learning so they can better serve themselves and their patients/clients.
Dr. Eisenberg has described, in detail, the conceptual model of a “teaching kitchen” in his introductory remarks at each and every HKHL conference since 2006. Over the years, HKHL has naturally turned into an incubator for early adopters and architects of teaching kitchens in various institutional settings used for health promotion. Participant surveys indicated that 32% of registrants in 2014 and 38% of registrants in 2015 built or would soon build teaching kitchens in their respective organizations. However, each teaching kitchen facility and its respective curricula were being designed, funded, implemented, and piloted largely in isolation; none was aware of the full set of insights, innovations, successes, and failures of the others.
As a result of this observation, Dr. Eisenberg conceived of the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative (the “TKC”). The TKC is an invitational network of thought leading organizations using teaching kitchen facilities as catalysts of enhanced personal and public health across medical, corporate, school, and community settings (“the TKC initiative”). Working collaboratively, Dr. Eisenberg, the CIA, and the Harvard Chan School launched the TKC in August of 2015. The Harvard Chan School and The CIA were co-presenters of this initiative in 2017 and 2018.
The TKC was launched with generous philanthropic support to The CIA from the Sampson Foundation, the Peter Alfond Foundation, and the Meshewa Farm Foundation, with additional support provided by member-grantors, including Barilla/Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Compass Group of North America, and Google. Additional member-grantors have signed on since 2016, including Campus for H (Japan), Daiya Foods, Inc., and Oceania Cruises/Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
In January 2019, the TKC transitioned to become an independent entity. The TKC has engaged the Windward Fund, a non-profit subsidiary of Arabella Advisors, to serve as its fiscal sponsor. In this capacity, the Windward Fund serves as a non-profit incubator for the TKC and provides non-profit fiscal and administrative oversight. The TKC is overseen by an Advisory Board with input from its Committee Chairs and Director, Dr. David Eisenberg. The CIA serves as a Founding Advisor and Current Principal Culinary Partner. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Nutrition continues to serve in an advisory role to the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative.
By collecting and sharing information among TKC members through in-person meetings, along with virtual working group meetings and member-only sharing platforms, the Collaborative functions as an accelerator to support the reproducibility, scalability, and evaluation of emerging teaching kitchen models and educational programs. Information and resources will be made available publicly through this website over time.