LSU Medical School students at Nicholls State for culinary program

LSU Medical School students at Nicholls State for culinary program

LSU medical students are back on the Nicholls State University campus in Thibodaux for a two-week program that gives them a taste of cooking and nutrition skills.

The culinary medicine program, started in 2019, is a partnership between the LSU Medical School in New Orleans and Nicholls’ Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. It’s sponsored by Thibodaux Regional Health System.

The five LSU students start their day in the classroom with a lecture about nutrition theory, studying ailments such as diabetes and heart disease. In the afternoons, they head to the cooking school to whip up recipes that tie into what they have learned.

Last week, the students made recipes from various cultures. Sam Baker made borscht, a beet soup of Ukrainian origin, which was a hit with the rest of the class.

On Thursday, students focused on recipes that support pregnancy and adolescence. They cooked three different soups that incorporated ginger, made cookies that help promote lactation and produced veggie roll-ups that get children involved.

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This is the second time instructor and Chef Jana Billiot taught the class, which she said emphasizes how important food can be at every stage of life.

“The med students are just so great. They’re very focused and disciplined,” Billiot said.


After cooking is complete, all of the students come together to taste everything and offer feedback.

“We open the session with knife skills, sanitation and just basic cooking technique information. And then I’m just here to assist them along the way. They’re doing the recipes, they’re doing the cutting, they’re doing the cooking,” Billiot said. “I’m here to just give them advice and show them little tricks and nuance things that’ll help.”

Thibodaux Regional CEO Greg Stock said he is happy for the opportunity to collaborate with Nicholls and LSU and the students.

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“They work with the culinary school at Nicholls and they have toured our facilities, talked with our trainers, and we have described and shown them the programs and services that are in the building,” he said.

Registered dietitian Leah Porche helps with the nutrition aspect of the course. Porche said the class builds relationships in the health and culinary fields.

“Having partnerships with doctors and other healthcare providers makes my job more effective and, honestly, easier. And to be able to talk to these guys at the stage that they’re at in their education, and share with them the things that a dietitian can do to help them and to help their patients, is so important,” Porche said. “I hope that if there’s one thing they can take away from my perspective, it’s that they remember that dietitians and physical therapists, occupational therapists, we’re here for you.”

Student Ushma Bhandary said the class helped bridge classroom learning and practical application.

“We know that nutrition is important,” Bhandary said. “But here we will be able to tell the patient here are tangible ways to do it and make it more accessible.”

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