Kitchen Theory: improve public health through nutrition


Understand the relationship we have with food by focusing on its sensory and nutritional aspects can be the solution


All across the world countries are experiencing unsustainable healthcare and economic burdens as a result of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative disorders (this list now includes COVID-19) – much of which has been linked to poor diet and lifestyle choices.

Improve public health through nutrition

Research has shown that what, how and when we eat, can play an essential role in the prevention of these illnesses and can significantly influence outcomes in patients during and after therapy. Therefore, the mission is to be a part of the solution; improve public health through nutrition.

credits: Jamie Street via Unsplash

Kitchen Theory 

Kitchen Theory is a multisensory gastronomy design studio, creating and hosting experimental, immersive food & drinks experience and conducting research, whose mission statement is to improve global wellbeing through innovations in gastronomy. 

Chef Jozef Youssef is the creative force behind the Kitchen Theory. His years of experience in London’s most highly acclaimed Michelin star restaurants and hotels coupled with his academic interest in gastronomy, art and science led to him establishing Kitchen Theory in 2010 with a mission of “improving global wellbeing through innovations in gastronomy”.
Since then he has worked with some of the UK most highly respected academic institutions and imminent scientists to further our understanding and contribute towards researching the relationship we as humans have with food by focusing on its sensory and nutritional/functional aspects. 
Chef Yozef Joussef by Annemarie Sterian I credits: Kitchen Theory

Through Kitchen Theory, Chef Jozef applies his culinary skills, scientific knowledge and creativity to design more engaging and stimulating multisensory immersive corporate and private experiences around food & drink which are; meaningful, memorable and remarkable. 

Over the years Kitchen Theory has forged ties with some of the UK most highly respected academic institutions and imminent scientists to further our understanding and contribute towards research in the fields mentioned above (see below for a list of academic articles). This has allowed it to work with a broad number of experts from fields including experimental psychology, computer science, medical research and clinicians.

Kitchen Theory has two main areas of focus:

1. Sensory relationship with food

The sensory relationship focuses on how all five senses work together to form our associations, expectations, judgments, likes and dislikes of food as well as other psychological and cultural factors that may play a role. 

Gastrophysics according to Kitchen Theory I credits: Kitchen Theory

The psychological and multisensory relationship humans have with food offers unique insights into:

  • How all 5 of our senses work in unison rather than isolation to formulate our perception of flavour
  • How flavour can be modulated or augmented by changing sensory inputs including, colour, shape, taste, texture, sound and aroma
  • How cultural and environmental influences can affect our relationship with flavours, textures, smells.
  • How we perceive flavour is uniquely individual both psychologically and physiologically.

Such findings may be impacting how food experiences are designed in restaurants, onboard flights and even for the development of space foods

At its core, this sensory approach is enabling to design better food experiences which encourage/nudge people towards making healthier, more nutritious and sustainable food choices in schools, hospitals and care homes.

2. Nutrition & Hyperfood

The nutritional research is focused on the functional role that food plays in relation to our health and wellbeing

The HYPERFOODS project focuses on identifying molecules within foods that can potentially prevent and/or fight diseases. The aim is to advance understanding of the functional/curative aspects of food.

The research explores:

  • The foods we eat, that are made up of thousands of bioactive molecules that get digested and metabolised, reacting with other biomolecules in our body and trillions of bacteria in our guts. All of which can impact our health and wellbeing.
Credits: Towards Data Science
  • How molecules within the foods we eat interact with pharmaceutical drugs and can have an impact on the effectiveness of these treatments.
Food map: each node is a food item and its size represents the number of cancer-beating molecules. The link between two nodes reflects the similarity of the molecular profiles of these foods, allowing us to cluster foods according to their molecular composition. Figure from Towards Data Science

There are six major nutrition categories (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water) which are identified as impacting human health. National nutritional databases track about 150 components from these categories and they appear on most food packaging. Yet, there is growing evidence that thousands of other molecules – including polyphenols, flavonoids, terpenoids and indoles (that are abundant in plant-based foods and all of which belong to the same chemical classes as those found in pharmaceutical drugs) – may help prevent and fight diseases.

Most of these compounds still remain largely unexplored by experts, not tracked by regulators, and unknown to the public at large, therefore HYPERFOODS can be seen as exploring the “dark matter of nutrition.”

Eager to know more?

Chef Yozef Youssef was keynote speaker at eFOOD2022 last april. If you want to know more about gastrophysic and hyperfood, you might want to check the Conference’s video and proceedings.

sources: eFOOD2022 I Kitchen Theory

cover image: Ilustration by Bianca Daghetti

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