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April 15, 6:00 P.M. Talk: Is Love a Food Ingredient?

April 15, 2024 06:00 PM

A Panel Exploring How Positive Emotions Can Be Conveyed Through Cooking

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25 11th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA

When asked if love is a food ingredient, many people smile and respond “yes!” without hesitation. The wealth of qualitative and anecdotal evidence derived from ethnographic studies, cultural traditions, literature, and folklore, confirm that the experience of eating food is influenced by the path that food took to our plate - who made it, and how it was prepared.

Researchers are beginning to understand that to improve human well-being we need to deemphasize negative and restrictive eating frameworks such as dieting and disordered eating. Studies show that more successful routes to overall health and well-being include positive approaches to food and eating, and the field of food psychology is exploring and measuring the positive aspects of food and emotion. This project employs a series of methodologies--ethnographic interviews, behavioral surveys, and neuroscientific approaches—to uncover and measure the mechanisms by which the (positive) emotions of those who cook are imbued into food and can be felt by the eater - improving their wellbeing.

This session, co-presented by the James Beard Foundation and the Experimental Cuisine Collective, brings together a cross-functional group of experts (food scientists,  psychologists, food scholars, and designers) who are daring to dig and examine this “anecdotally true phenomenon” with the purpose of restoring the power of human involvement with food as a positive force in life.

Cesar Vega, PhD, Food Industry Executive and Research Affiliate, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, New York University
Amy Bentley, PhD, Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, New York University
Veronika Stabinger, Food and Tech Innovation Strategist and Creative Executive, University of Bolzano, Italy
Paul Rozin, PhD, Food Psychologist, University of Pennsylvania

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About César Vega:
César Vega has more than 20 years of hands-on experience in the world of food innovation (cocoa & chocolate, ice cream, pulses, nuts, pasta sauces, rice, meat alternatives, etc.) in companies like Procter & Gamble, Mars, Inc., Barry Callebaut, and McCain Foods and across different geographies like Mexico, India, UK, the Netherlands, and the US. He is an advisor to start-ups and is also an angel investor.
He earned his Ph.D. in Food Science from University College Cork (Ireland). His passion for cooking took him to obtain a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu (Canada); to collaborate with world-renowned chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Jose Andres; to be an expert reviewer for Myrhvold’s Modernist Cuisine, and to edit and co-author the book The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food & Cooking. He was a member of the advisory council of the Department of Food Science at the University of Minnesota, and he is an affiliated researcher at New York University. He was featured in National Geographic’s documentary series The History of Latin Food in America.
Today he invests most of his spare time learning about the history, sociology, and psychology of food which ultimately motivated him to lead this multidisciplinary team of scholars to address the simple question: Is love a food ingredient? 

About Amy Bentley: 
Amy Bentley is Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. A historian with interests in the social, historical, and cultural contexts of food, she is the author of Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet (University of California Press, 2014), (James Beard Award finalist, and ASFS Best Book Award). Other books include Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity (University of Illinois, 1998), A Cultural History of Food in the Modern Era (editor) (Bloomsbury, 2011), and the co-edited volume Practicing Food Studies (2024). Her current research projects include a history of food in US hospitals, and the cultural and historical contexts of meat and dairy substitutes.
In addition to her work as a food historian, she is involved in a wide range of food-related academic and applied projects, including the Food and COVID-19 NYU digital archive, and as co-founder of the NYU Urban Farm Lab and the Experimental Cuisine Collective (2007-2016). The former Editor-in-Chief of Food, Culture, and Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research (2013-2019), Bentley is co-editor with Peter Scholliers of the book series Food in Modern History: Traditions and Innovations (Bloomsbury). 

About Veronika Stabinger:
Veronika Stabinger is a Creative Strategist, Innovation Expert, and Service/Experience Designer with over two decades of experience. Living in both Boston, USA, and Berlin, Germany, she operates at the forefront of innovation, sustainability, and human-centric design. With a focus on the food industry and a dedication to driving positive change, Veronika Stabinger serves as a catalyst for transformative experiences and impactful solutions. She collaborates with global industry leaders, including breakthrough startups and prominent entities within the food industry, to drive meaningful change and craft experiences that prioritize customer and planetary needs. Her contributions encompass extensive research, product development, and strategic consulting, empowering businesses to thrive and lead within their respective markets.
Veronika's diverse interests extend into academia, where she serves as a guest lecturer at several universities. She also shares her insights as a writer in culinary magazines, exploring future behavior studies within the food scene. Beyond her professional pursuits, Veronika spearheads a pop-up restaurant focused on multisensory experiences, and is deeply passionate about fostering regenerative practices from agriculture through leadership coaching, advocating for sustainable and ethical business approaches. Her involvement in the "is love a food ingredient" project, especially seen at the intersection of love and food in the era of AI, underscores her fascination with emerging trends and human behavior. 

About Paul Rozin:
Paul Rozin was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received a PhD in both Biology and Psychology from Harvard, in 1961. His thesis research was sponsored by Jean Mayer. He has been a member of he Psychology Department at the University of Pennsylvania for 62 years, where he is currently Emeritus Professor of Psychology. Over the last 35 years, the major focus of his research has been human food choice, considered from biological, psychological and anthropological perspectives. During this period, he has studied the cultural evolution of cuisine, the development of food aversions and preferences, body image, the acquisition of liking for chili pepper, chocolate craving, and attitudes to meat. He has studied the emotion of disgust and related magical thinking, and how both can be barriers to public acceptance of new technologies or foods (e.g., recycled water, insects as food). He is also working on the meaning of food in different cultures, the entry of food issues (e.g., meat, fat) into the moral domain in modern American culture, the psychology of sustainability, differences between the French and American food worlds, attitudes to natural and genetic engineering, and the nature of remembered pleasure.
Paul Rozin is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. He has over 350 publications, and was an editor of the journal, Appetite, for ten years.. Rozin has scholarly interests outside of food, including psychological aspects of music and morality, positive psychology.,and lay understanding of science. He has a major interest in undergraduate and graduate teaching. In general, he takes multiple perspectives on basic aspects of human life, especially food. He tends to open up new areas for research, as opposed to analyzing any particular problem for a long period of time. 



Tickets to events held at Platform at Pier 57 by the James Beard Foundation cover the cost of food, education and a unique dining experience. Meals are prepared by culinary masters from all regions of the United States and around the world. Unless otherwise stated, alcoholic beverages are provided on a complimentary basis and are not included in the ticket price.

James Beard Foundation events permit guests age 21 years and older to attend events where alcoholic beverages are served.

Event Policy

Reservation Policy:

All reservations are non-refundable and must be made in advance. Should the event be cancelled due to any unforeseen circumstances, including COVID-19, JBF will offer a range of options, including ticket exchanges, the option to donate tickets, or a full refund. For more information, contact

Alcohol Disclaimer:

James Beard Foundation events permit guests age 21 years and older to attend events where alcoholic beverages are served. 

Dietary/Food Restrictions Policy:

Events at Platform by JBF are special one-night-only menus and we do not offer a la carte menus. If you have serious food allergies, we will work with the visiting chef team to do our best to accommodate but cannot guarantee that alternate options will be available for every course.

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