Celebrating Five Years of Culinary Innovation
A state-of-the-art complex dedicated to the advancement of foods and nutrition, the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens has cooked up big results.
In February 2019, the research landscape at NC State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) underwent a transformative evolution with the opening of the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens. Named after philanthropist Dinah E. Gore, this state-of-the-art complex has emerged over the last five years as a hub for cutting-edge research, educational initiatives and culinary creativity.
The seeds of the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens were sown in 2017 during a Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences retreat. Driven by a vision to elevate the department’s efforts in foods and nutrition, then Department Head and William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Carolyn Dunn and faculty member Ben Chapman (current department head) identified a missing ingredient – a kitchen hat serves as a laboratory for discovery focused on science and art of food preparation, recipe development, and food safety. Determined to address this gap, they conceived a plan to transform a storage space into a multifaceted teaching and research kitchen complex.
Of course, this couldn’t have happened without the support and dedication of stakeholders and donors, including the North Carolina Extension & Community Association and Eat Smart, Move More NC as well as Janice Christensen, Carolyn Lackey and Doris Yates Rogers, who made the creation of the kitchens possible.
Honoring the Gore Legacy
The complex’s namesake, Dinah E. Gore, and her late husband, Edward, have long been dedicated benefactors of family and consumer sciences programs at NC State. Their generosity has extended to numerous educational initiatives in North Carolina schools, colleges and universities. Dinah’s gift and naming of the kitchens are a fitting tribute to her significant contributions to NC State Extension‘s health, food, nutrition and fitness programs.
Support the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens
Since its opening, the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens has become a focal point for teaching safe food preparation and preservation, conducting research on food ingredients, labeling, and safety, and developing healthy recipes for public dissemination. Catherine Hill, nutrition programs manager for the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, stresses the philosophy behind the kitchen is rooted in the belief that everyone can learn to prepare delicious, healthy and safe food with positive impacts on overall health.
The Legacy of Carolyn Dunn
At the helm of this ambitious project was Dunn, whose infectious passion and hard work turned the vision into reality. In February 2022, the kitchen’s pantry was dedicated to her in a surprise ceremony.
“I can think of no better way to honor her extraordinary career than with a named space in the very kitchen complex she helped create,” says Hill, emphasizing the profound impact of Dunn’s vision.
Expressing her gratitude at the time of the dedication, Dunn acknowledged the significance of the recognition, saying, “To have my name on the pantry is beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. I am filled with gratitude and joy and thank everyone who helped make this happen.”
Chapman, now head of the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, says Dunn’s contributions are far-reaching, noting that her impact extends beyond programs and publications. “Her true legacy is the passion she continues to bring to our department, whether it’s mentoring faculty, creating cutting-edge spaces, or being an advocate for the health and wellbeing of the families of North Carolina.”
Utilization and Impact
Over the past five years, NC State University has leveraged the teaching kitchens to host living lecture series, produce training videos, develop recipes for agents and specialists to share with the public, and conduct research on labeling, ingredient use, food safety, and healthy cooking. Stakeholders and students have utilized the kitchens to conduct interdisciplinary work through partnerships with the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, Applied Ecology and Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences within CALS.
The facility/kitchen laboratory includes one large demonstration kitchen, three smaller consumer kitchens, an observation room, a laundry room and a walk-in pantry. The kitchens stand as a testament to the university’s commitment to advancing culinary education, Extension and research. It highlights the importance of using information acquired from research and learning, and applying it directly to benefit society by fostering positive transformations. A great example of this is the Homegrown Series by NC State Extension which shares nutritious recipes, expert cooking advice and food preservation tips for the public.
The impact has been felt as seen in the numbers below:
- 275+ videos created in the kitchens:
- 125+ of that were social media videos featuring:
- Produced 20 live-from-the-kitchens videos
- Families Eating Smart Moving More curriculum
- Videos of Chef Cheetie Kumar for the Eloise S. Cofer Family Living Lecture Series.
- 35+ agent and educator trainings:
- Over 1200 participants for food safety studies
- Food safety research
- Over 2,200 participant hours in the space
- Hours of coded video: 2,850
- Hours of recorded audio interviews: 570
- Swabs (micro) taken in the kitchens: 4,541
Heading into the Future
The Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens continue to be a beacon of innovation, fostering education, research and Extension in the realm of food and nutrition. The legacy of Dinah E. Gore and the dedication of individuals ensure that the impact of this kitchen complex will be felt for years to come, inspiring generations to embrace the art and science of culinary excellence. A
According to Chapman “Empowering innovation and knowledge, the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens stand as a testament to our commitment to shaping the future of foods and nutrition. In these kitchens, we cultivate not just ingredients, but a thriving community of learning and discovery, ensuring a bountiful harvest of expertise for generations to come.”