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The Art and Science of Cuisine: Inaugural wellness event serves up fine food and research

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The idea that we are what we eat was put into sharp focus at the inaugural Art and Science of Cuisine, presented by the Salk Institute on January 22. Talented chefs and scientists pooled their experience to inform and entertain a sold-out crowd of over 300 people eager to pursue healthier lifestyles in 2014.

Assistant Professor Janelle Ayres introduced five chefs and three scientists—Ronald Evans, Geoffrey Wahl and Reuben Shaw— for a panel discussion about the significant links between diet, nutrition, health and disease. Honorary chair Deborah Szekely, cookbook author and cofounder of world-renowned spas Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door, initiated a lively conversation about food in America. One cause of rising obesity, agreed the chefs, is the all-too-easy availability of prepared foods. All panel members emphasized that fresh vegetables and fruits should be at the core of a proper diet but acknowledged that people often sate their cravings with junk food. That led Wahl to explain the difference between true hunger and craving. "Hunger is physiological," he said. "But craving is different; craving takes experience because you have to have tasted it to crave it. Carbs and fats activate the opiate receptors in our brains. It's interesting to note that cravings often come from stress or boredom—and both can be relieved through exercise!"

Following the panel, the crowd descended upon individual food stations to put the talk to the taste test. Chefs and their teams plated generous portions of tapas, tostadas, wraps and rolls. The Trustees Room, transformed into a "dessert lounge," featured abundant organic treats.

Satisfied guests departed well equipped to keep their health-related new year's resolutions. The Art and Science of Cuisine proved that science isn't just for the lab; the discoveries being made at the Institute impact our everyday lives, informing the choices we make. As Shaw concluded, "It's an exciting time to bridge these worlds of nutrition and diet and science."

The Salk Institute thanks participating chefs Nathan Coulon, Isabel Cruz, Joy Houston, Michelle Lerach, Denise Roa and Su-Mei Yu as well as event partners Bee Green, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, Cups Organic, Deanna's Gluten Free, Delicious Revolution, Great News! Cooking School, Isabel Cruz Restaurants, La Cocina Que Canta, Rancho La Puerta, Saffron, San Diego Magazine, Snake Oil Cocktail Company, Suzie's Farm and True Food Kitchen.

For additional information, recipes, photos and videos, visit www.salk.edu/cuisine