Food and Thought

Food and Thought



Presented in collaboration with the Department of Campus RecreationConversation Kitchen is a unique series of culinary workshops designed to explore the significant influence that food has in defining and shaping culture across the world.  What is the role of food in cultural identity, communicating values, solving problems, reflecting locale, and expressing our common humanity? The Campus Recreation culinary education director will present a three or four-course menu with dishes from the region. Hosts representing the countries in question will be present during the workshop to discuss their food traditions and experiences. Participants will gain an understanding of different cultures by sharing a meal among friends.

Upcoming Events:

Register for all upcoming conversations. Visit our Events page >



“Cooking with the Professor” brings together UCI faculty and students for an evening of conversation, cooking, and good food in the ARC Test Kitchen. For each event, a fun and easy recipe is developed that reflect the research interests, cultural background, or cooking passions of a featured faculty member.


Chopped Virtual Cooking Challenge

Do you like being creative and want to challenge your cooking skills by using 4 mystery ingredients?  Join ISEP and UCI Illuminations for Chopped cooking challenge!  These special events are open to UCI faculty, staff, and students.  We look forward to seeing your creations. 

2021-2022 Programming
Conversation Kitchen
  • Nov. 16: Conversation Kitchen with Andrea Gutierrez Director, UCI FRESH Basic Needs Hub, including Food Demonstration by Peter Thach, Campus Social Worker
  • Dec 2: Pride Tamales: A Holiday Cooking Demonstration and Conversation in Honor of UCI’s LGBTQ+ community
  • Jan. 27: Leonard Barkan, "The Hungry Eye: Eating, Drinking, and European Culture from Rome to the Renaissance"
  • Feb. 10: Conversation Kitchen: "Jane Austen's Tea Table
  • Feb. 16: “The Truth about Dietary Supplements,” with Mahtab Jafari (Pharmaceutical Sciences) 
  • April 4: Christopher Carter, “The Spirit of Soul Food”: Book Talk and Food demonstration
  • April 21: Wisdom of Buddhism and Tibet: A Conversation and Mindful Meal with Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Prof. Donald Lopez Jr.
  • May 3: Esports Nutrition and Exercise Physiology
  • May 11: Conversation Kitchen: What's in a Taco?
  • May 19: Conversation Kitchen featuring A People’s Guide to Orange County

Cooking with the Professor

Winter 2021 Episodes:

  • Episode 1: Panettone vs. Pandoro Professor Annalisa Coliva (UCI) and Marco Panza (Chapman) Cooking Contest - Panettone vs. Pandoro
  • Episode 2: Tortellini - Professor Annalisa Coliva presents you with a classic dish of Italian cuisine: Tortellini! Served with broth, they are the perfect dish for a winter meal.
  • Epsidoe 3: Risotto - Professor Marco Panza (Chapman University) invites you to taste a classic of Italian cuisine: risotto!
  • Episode 4: Simple German Meal - Professor Peter Krapp (Film and Media Studies, UCI) invites you to share two of his favorite German dishes - the onion tart and the kale pork.
  • Episode 5: Triple Orange Cake -  Professor Lyle Massey invites you to taste this delicious "Triple Orange Cake" - the perfect recipe for the Winter harvest of OC's citrus.

Conversation Kitchen

  • Oct. 17: The Virtuous Table: Greek Philosophy and Table Fellowship
  • Nov. 5: Sensory Anthropology with Professor Roxanne Varzi
  • Nov. 21: Gustavo Arellano, “Taco Times!”
  • Dec. 3: Dreamers Dinner

Cooking with the Professor Online

Conversation Kitchen
  • Oct. 9: Fish and Chips: An International Story with Simon Majumdar, Celebrity Chef and International Food Writer
  • Oct. 16: Greek Table: Philosophy and Table Fellowship
  • Oct. 23: Persian Table: Zoroastrian, Jewish, Muslim, Bhai
  • Nov. 6: Buddhist Table 
  • Dec. 6: Blurring Borders - Cultural & Culinary Fusion in Undocumented Communities
  • Feb. 13:  “Mother Said She Didn’t Like Jjajangmyeon”: Ruminating on Korean Noodles During the Age of K-pop
  • May 9:  Food of Brazil with Latin American Studies 
  • June 4: Taco USA: A Conversation Kitchen with Gustavo Arellano 

Cooking with the Professor

  • Oct. 11: Cooking French Cuisine with Professor Daniel Brunstetter
  • Nov. 15: Cooking Louisiana Cuisine with Chancellor's Professor Jonathan Alexander
  • Dec. 4: Cooking Dumplings with Professor Catherine Liu
  • Jan. 23:  Foods of Iran with Professor Roxanne Varzi 
  • Feb. 12: Foods of Japan with Professor Sei Young Lee
Conversation Kitchen
  • Oct. 20: Foods of Syria and Turkey
  • Nov. 2:  Ugandan Hip Hop
  • Nov. 21: Harvest Festival and the Real Thanksgiving with Food Historian Linda Civitello
  • Dec. 6: A Tamale-Filled Holiday
  • Jan. 17: Foods of Japan and Korea
  • Feb. 15: Lunar New Year
  • Feb. 26:  "Conversation Through Food and Art: Public Murals in Northern Ireland" Luncheon Host, Professor Bill Rolston 
  • March 14: Foods of Pakistan and India
  • April 4: Digital Extremism
  • April 26: International Street Tacos
  • May 9: Food and Faith
  • June 6:  Taco Literacy: A Conversation Kitchen with Gustavo Arellano and Steve Alvarez

Cooking with the Professor

  • Nov. 6:  Foam: Better Cooking through Physics with Michael Dennin, Professor of Physics and Astronomy
  • Feb. 27: Cheap Eats -- Cooking with Beans  with Professor Ted Wright, Assoc. Prof. of Cognitive Sciences
  • May 1: Sustainable Cooking: Foraging for Food and a Brief Discussion on Cooking with Insects with James Steintrager, Professor English