Like all good chefs, Emilie Berner spent the requisite time in Paris, working in a bakery post-college, but it wasn’t the macarons that propelled her to helm the Chef Peter X. Kelly Teaching Kitchen at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital. Instead, it was time spent cooking healthy meals with French kids in their kitchens that sparked Berner’s love for teaching.
Today her passion for educating people shines through in the innovative offerings and classes she leads in the hospital’s teaching kitchen as part of Harvest for Health, a hospital-wide initiative to prevent chronic disease through healthful eating. Classes such as the Integrative Therapies Program help cancer patients and their caregivers mitigate the side effects of treatment, not only through relaxation techniques but also by learning how to prepare meals that combat nausea, anemia, and weight loss.
Berner loves using vegetables from the hospital’s organic garden in her recipes. “It’s so exciting and empowering to see students pick carrots and then use them in recipes here,” notes Berner, whose Young Chefs of the Hudson Valley classes comprise Peekskill Middle School students.
Other programs in which Berner plays a leading role include a Healthy Heart program, a county-wide initiative addressing chronic illness in minority residents, and the bimonthly farmers’ market at the hospital. Her influence has helped make the teaching kitchen a destination for health education in Northern Westchester and beyond.