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Cooking with a Passion for Nutrition

Tiffany Williams is using her culinary skills and nutrition knowledge to support an important mission this summer. The nutrition science senior is creating videos for a statewide culinary nutrition education program called Cooking Essentials, Ingredients for Life, which is designed for 18- to 25-year-olds.

“It’s about doing things in a fun and creative way in a format that’s suitable for that generation,” Williams says.

Williams editing the recipe videos. Photo provided by Tiffany Williams

Williams is working with Natalie Cooke, an assistant professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, and Catherine Hill, the nutrition programs manager for the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences. The program is a collaboration between the two departments and NC State Dining.

At the beginning of the summer, Williams and Hill filmed step-by-step preparation of 15 healthy recipes in just two days in the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens. Now, Williams is editing the videos.

 “The recipes are tasty,” Williams says. “They are flavorful and have some variety, so it’s not just the basic traditional healthy food. It has more of an international and seasonal feel to it.”

Williams first learned how to cook from her great-grandmother, who viewed cooking as a “basic skill of life.” She later developed an interest in nutrition while taking care of her great-grandmother when she developed health concerns like diabetes and high cholesterol.

“I was curious as to how she got those, and after learning that some are controlled by food, it made me want to be proactive to prevent those and try to help her, myself and my community.”

Tiffany Williams recording a recipe video
Williams recording a video in the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens. Photo provided by Tiffany Williams

Eager to keep cooking, Williams enrolled in an associate degree program in culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University’s Charlotte campus, and then she transferred to Vance-Granville Community College after two semesters to finish her degree.

After graduation, Williams realized she wanted to explore her interest in science, and NC State was a top choice to continue her education after visiting the campus in high school through the Upward Bound program. She initially studied food science but later switched to nutrition science after talking to her adviser, April Morrison.

“One of the reasons I decided to leave culinary and transition to the nutrition field was because I enjoyed cooking, but the stress of being in a high-production, fast-paced kitchen took the joy out of it for me,” she explains. “I felt like nutrition was a way I could still use my passion and work in the field that I’m interested in, but it wouldn’t be so stressful or hectic.”

Williams will graduate in December, and her goal is to work with NC State Extension in the future.

“I hope to be an Extension agent and do this type of work in different cities around North Carolina,” she says. “I found an interest in working with at-risk and underserved youth and helping them reach equity and wellness in different areas of their life. That’s what I really care about, working with the community at a grassroots level.”

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.