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Durham University

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Activities - Culinary Innovation

Seminar: Food pleasure, altered eating and well-being - 14th September 2016 1-3pm, Gala Theatre & Cinema, Durham - Click here for more information


Flavour masterclass with Dr Rachel Edwards Stuart, Chef Sam Storey and "altered eating" research specialist Dr Duika Burges Watson

The way that we perceive flavour in food is complex. This presentation and interactive demonstration explored the science behind how each of our 5 senses play a key role in flavour perception. Flavour scientist Dr Rachel-Edwards Stuart covered the science of flavour, non-tasters and supertasters, the importance of colour and branding to eating and drinking, the role that background music and sound play in food’s flavour, the new science of ‘umami’ and ‘kokumi’ in flavour perception, and the psychology of plating. Rachel brought the science to life by giving participants samples to illustrate key themes.

About the session leaders:

Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart is a renowned Food Scientist and Flavour Expert. She runs a selection of unique and bespoke events around the Science of Flavour and Gastronomy. Since graduating from Cambridge University, Rachel has trained as a chef in Paris, gained a PhD sponsored by Heston Blumenthal, lectured around Europe, appeared on TV and in the national press, set up the London Gastronomy Seminars, taught science to chefs, developed over 100 gluten free products, and helped to stabilise a 5 tonne chocolate waterfall!

Sam Storey and Duika Burges Watson are leading on an innovative food related research study with survivors of head and neck cancer - 'Resources for Living' (Funded by the National Institute of Health Research). In the course of their study they have been using many of the new understandings around flavour and taste to improve the quality of life for survivors - and their research is proving valuable for others for whom eating has been 'altered' and food has lost its pleasure. Rachel is also an advisor to the Resources for Living project.

Rachel Edwards Stuart

Colour profoundly influences experience of flavour coloured jellies
flavoured the same even when you know the 'trick'
At the Flavour Masterclasses we found out who is a 'Super Taster' and
took part in an aroma lesson using skittles

Human Nutrition Research Centre Seminar by Dr Duika L. Burges Watson - Altered Eating: A New Framework for Health Research and Practice

Many individuals live with long term challenges around food and eating. Such difficulties may be the sequelae of physical or mental illness, treatment, or life-course transitions. Health providers and researchers have generally required specialist knowledge on related diseases or conditions and approaches focus on amelioration of the condition, nutrition or on improving physiological function. Relatively little attention has been paid to alterations in the relationship to food which can persist after the cessation of a disease episode, or that become an enduring feature of long term conditions. Head and neck cancer survivors may experience some of the most complex food and eating issues of all, ranging across the biopsychosocial spectrum; from anatomical and functional changes to the biological systems involved in eating and the changes to flavour perception that result from this, to alterations in the emotional, social and interpersonal life of the individual and their network resulting from altered eating. In multi-disciplinary work in head and neck cancer survivorship we have come to realise that in order to assess, capture and address the full extent and complexity of their eating issues a new approach was required. We have developed a definition of altered eating and a comprehensive explanatory framework that systemically captures the full range of issues encountered in this and other patient groups.


Research conversations: Bi-monthly meetings to bring together a research scientist/food expert (internal or invited speaker) with Wolfson health researchers in conversation to explore a recent culinary innovation in relation to a key food and health theme. Eg. Epidemiology of sensory loss with ageing research; ‘umami’ sensation with drug delivery; textural modification with altered eating in cancer care/mental health; the health psychology of food implements with assisted eating.

Symposium on taste, sensory perception and altered eating

With the involvement of St Cuthburts Society (Prof Elizabeth Archibald) in Durham City and the Catering department (Shona Miller) co-ordinate a day long symposium on taste, sensory perception and altered eating. Invite the participation of leading thinkers from eg. CENSES/London Gastronomy series.