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Pink and Dude Chefs Online Campus


Would you like to run Pink and Dude Chefs in your community? STRIDE offers comprehensive training in everything an organization would need to run a program! 

Founded at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) by the Kinesiology Department, STRIDE (Solutions Through Research in Diet & Exercise) was created in 2007 to promote health throughout communities. STRIDE’s interdisciplinary teams design programs to be accessible, affordable and most importantly, effective. 

STRIDE’s chefs program aims to improve healthy eating behaviors by increasing nutrition knowledge and culinary abilities in young people. We empower adolescents to create and choose healthy foods by building a solid knowledge base in nutrition and by developing practical skills through comprehensive culinary curricula. Based on evaluative and evidence-based approaches, our programs are dynamic and effective and appeal to adolescents by giving them hands-on experience and useful information.

How It All Began

Can a nutrition and culinary after-school program change how adolescents view and accept healthy eating behaviors? This was the original question posed by a team at STRIDE in 2008 and was used as a framework to design the first chef's programming. Middle school students engaged in this early research by participating in a class that they chose to call, "Pink and Dude Chefs." Research continued for the next five years and culminated with the Pink and Dude Chefs: Let's Get Started curriculum, named in honor of these first students.

The Work Continues

In 2009, STRIDE conducted research on the first curriculum produced in our chefs program, Pink Chefs. Results indicated that middle school participants in the program showed an increased level of confidence in their own cooking skills (Chessen J. A., 2009). STRIDE researchers concluded that young people engaged in fun and interactive after-school programming make healthier eating choices by improving their cooking skills and nutrition knowledge, and the result is significant: adolescents make healthier eating choices after participation in the program.

Research in 2013 found that middle school students in the Pink and Dude Chefs: Let's Get Started curriculum also had increased preferences for fruits after participating in the program (Sheehan T., 2013). Results from this research also suggested that participants increased their fruit and vegetable intake. Young people who participated in Let’s Get Started also showed increased culinary confidence and improved nutrition knowledge. Indeed, exposure to new fruits and vegetables and comprehensive nutrition lessons learned through the Pink and Dude Chefs: Let's Get Started curriculum has had a positive impact on shaping healthy lifestyle behaviors in youth.


These initial successes propelled the original Pink and Dude Chefs program into the national spotlight, increasing the program’s reach and scope. With the development of additional curricula and new online trainings, the program continues to improve healthy eating outcomes, build culinary self-efficacy, and serve as the foundation for healthy families across America.

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Works Cited

Chessen, J. A. (2009). The development and pilot of a culinary intervention designed using the social cognitive theory to teach nutrition to adolescent girls (Master's thesis, Caifornia Polytechnic State University). Retrieved from http://www.digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/theses/70/

Sheehan, T. R. (2013). Pink and Dude Chefs: A nutrition and culinary invtervention for middle school students (Master's thesis, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/theses/929/

To learn more:

Chessen, J., Hey, D. W., Nicholson, L., & Yelmokas McDermott, A. (2009). Practice Notes: Strategies in health education-program: "What's cooking on the central coast with the Pink and Dude Chefs?". Health Education & Behavior, 36(6), 975-977. doi:10.1177/1090198109353401

Chessen, J., Nicholson, L., Sklar, J., & Yelmokas McDermott, A. (2009, October). "Pink Chefs" -A cooking and nutrition intervention. Poster presented at The Obesity Society, Washington, DC.

Hey, D., Chessen, J., Nicholson, L., Yelmokas McDermott, A. (2009, October). Program Evaluation: A focus group study of "Pink Chefs and Dude Chefs." Poster presented at The Obesity Society, Washington, DC.

Sheehan, T.R. (2013, June). Pink & Dude Chefs: A culinary and nutrition intervention for middle school students. Poster presented at the Seventh Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, Long Beach, CA.

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