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Stony Brook University’s FoodLab is collaborating with Mediterranean Diet Roundtable Project for a symposium on Friday at the Southampton campus. (Photo courtesy of Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz)

Stony Brook University’s FoodLab, tucked away at Chancellor’s Hall at the Southampton campus, is teaming up with the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable Project for “Positive Nutrition: A Mediterranean Mindset” this Friday, October 27, beginning at 3 p.m..

Blending the science, culture and nutrition behind the perennially popular Mediterranean Diet, the symposium will include discussions and presentations from experts in the wellness world, as well as tours of the FoodLab premises and ongoing projects, a market featuring goods from local vendors and a special dinner created by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Nick Poulmentis.

Celebrity chef Nick Poulmentis will serve a Mediterranean-inspired dinner. (Photo Courtesy of FoodLab)

More a lifestyle rather than just a style of cuisine, the Mediterranean Diet is a heart-healthy eating plan recognized by the World Health Organization, made popular after a study from over five decades ago linking better health with people populating the Mediterranean countries­ — such as Greece, Italy, Cyprus and southern Spain and France. It focuses on locally sourced fresh foods and is mostly plant-based.

“When in Europe, you find homes with fruit and nut trees and gardens and fresh jams and compotes on the table,” says Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, director of FoodLab education. “Around the Mediterranean, you find people are more active, walking and cycling. Meals are taken together. This is the lifestyle that nourishes the body and soul.”

After being introduced to Daniela Puglieli, founder of the Massachusetts-based MDR Project, Carmack-Fayyaz, knew a collaboration was destined to be.

“She had created a fabulous think tank focusing on the Mediterranean Diet from scratch,” she says of Puglieli, noting it was “a great match, as that is what I am doing with FoodLab education.”

Although the full, sit-down dinner quickly sold out this week, Carmack-Fayyaz assures “attendees will have lots of opportunities to eat.” During the Mediterranean Market, scheduled before and after the scheduled speakers, attendees can enjoy tons of local vendors offering samples and tastings, as well as selling their products. Everything from Greek olive oil to sourdough breads to ginger elixirs, plus plenty more, will be on-hand to try. Expected vendors include Aki’s Kitchen, East End Food Institute, Slow Food East End’s Flour Power and tea+munchies. The market will be available from 3 to 4 p.m. at Chancellor’s Hall and then again, after the discussions, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m..

Deanne Brandstetter, of global food service company Compass Group, will be at the symposium. (Photo Courtesy of Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz)

Scheduled from 4 to 5:30 p.m. inside the adjacent Duke Lecture Hall is a slew of knowledgeable panel experts scheduled to discuss how the Mediterranean culinary culture can be incorporated into food services found in the United States. According to Carmack-Fayyaz, Angelo Mojica (vice president of food and culinary services at Johns Hopkins Hospital), will talk on his methods of incentivizing nutrition along with strategies to influence healthy choices.

Krista Zvoch, director of nutrition at Story Point Group, is responsible for feeding the elderly. “She will also discuss the application of Mediterranean eating practices in supporting healthy outcomes for a target population,” she says. Paula Montagna, director of clinical nutrition at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, created a functional medicine approach to positive nutrition through cooking courses and demonstrations in her “Food as Medicine” program.

“Personally, I believe that food is only as nutritious as the environment it grows in,” Carmack Fayyaz says, noting Paulette Satur, of Satur Farms on the North Fork, will be on-hand for discussion. Rafi Taherian, of Yale University, is “a star in the world of hospitality,” according to Carmack-Fayyaz and will also be available to discuss how and why he implemented the Mediterranean Diet and how the Ivy League institution embraces it. Deanne Brandstetter, vice president of nutrition and wellness at Compass Group North America, a global foodservice company and Assemblyman Fred Thiele will also offer remarks and FoodLab’s executive director Geoffrey Drummond will moderate the roundtable. Tickets are $75 and are available here.

Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Angelo Mojica will discuss methods of incentivizing nutrition along with strategies to influence healthy choices. (Photo courtesy of Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz)

With a mission to establish SBU as a national center for the study of food-related issues, FoodLab utilizes food education to solve the growing challenges of feeding the world population, highlighting what’s being done at the local, state and national level. Even though winter is coming, FoodLab has created an educational garden where classes and workshops will be held for the community.

“We covered two new unheated greenhouses for the winter production of greens. These greens will be donated to the community,” Carmack-Fayyaz says. “We will continue to have interesting programming and invite anyone to come spend time in the garden and greenhouse (certainly more pleasant in the winter).”

Stony Brook Univeristy Southampton is located at 239 Montauk Highway in Southampton.