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Durham University

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Culinary Innovation, the Senses and Health

“It took chefs to make us think” Allan Jenkins, The Observer, Sunday Oct 20th , 2013

Background: In ‘high end’ cookery, chefs are working in partnership with scientists to translate scientific findings into gastronomy. Experimental psychologists, chemists, physicists and neurologists are forging new collaborative projects with artisans, artists and chefs to rethink food and eating and the relationships between senses/memory/emotion/taste. Many of these innovations are drifting into other areas to improve dietary intake and quality of life issues around for example, cancer olfactory and taste disturbance and for ageing populations. Institutions such as the Institute Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France; the Centre for Study of Senses at London’s School of Advanced Study (CENSES) and University of Oxford, Department of Experimental Psychology are formalising interdisciplinary networks to examine some of the fundamental issues we tend to take for granted in what we eat, how we eat and what makes food ‘delicious’. The potential applications for health and well-being are under-explored. Members of the Wolfson Research Institute at Durham University and Fuse –Centre for Translational Research in Public Health have established links into these collaborations because of work in which we are expanding the application and impact of these innovations ‘at the grass roots’ of health and well-being. Our work brings social science and humanities into the picture adding the dimension of human relationships with food and eating, the role of desire (often overlooked in health) as a foundation for effective translation of these areas to a broader audience. For example, in 2012 Burges Watson and Lewis contributed to an event on ‘Taste’ with their research team and chef alongside Rachel Edwards-Stuart, (whose PhD was funded by Heston Blumenthal and who is a member of the expert reference panel for the research) to ‘play’ with food senses with an audience of academics and students at St Cuthberts’s Society. Edwards-Stuart is a founding member of the London Gastronomy Seminars.

Purpose: To provide a forum for networking around culinary innovations and the senses in relation to health and well-being and a ‘voice’ for an interdisciplinary Durham network. The Culinary Innovation, the Senses and Health Special Interest Group will bring together the sciences, social sciences and humanities in an on-going research conversation about recent developments in culinary innovation and to explore how Durham can contribute to this new and exciting field.

Please use the links below for further details on this SIG.



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