Docs in the Kitchen tackle low-salt diets at next culinary event, Sept. 30

Image of spoons with various spices in yellow, orange, green, red... with "Docs in the Kitchen" overlayed on itTheir first foray into gastrodietary outreach for healthier, tastier eating in June was received so well, that the Cookin’ Docs team at the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and the Department of Medicine aim to do it again.

They’ll host a “Docs in the Kitchen – Low Salt & Full of Flavor” event on Saturday, Sept. 30, 4-6 p.m., once more at the Hacienda at the River, a Watermark retirement community located at 2720 E. River Road in Tucson, according to Juanita Merchant, MD, PhD (pictured on the left below), Regents Professor, division chief and associate director for basic sciences at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

Joining her to offer a few insights into the perspectives of just one patient group that requires low-salt diets, chronic kidney disease or CKD patients, will be Amy Sussman, MD, professor, Nephrology Fellowship Program director and vice chair for education in the Department of Medicine, one of six original departments and the largest at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson.

"Lifestyle intervention and diet are critical to the success of the CKD patient. Images of Juanita Merchant, MD, PhD, Amy Sussman, MD, and Chef David SullivanUnderstanding how to enjoy food by changing a person's palate, using lower sodium foods, and bringing out the flavor of food with other spices enhances that probability for CKD and dialysis patients. Many of our therapies cannot work successfully without adhering to a low-sodium diet. In more advanced disease, patients also are advised to partake in lower potassium and phosphorus diets which are incredibly challenging but nonetheless instrumental in their success for a healthy life," said Dr. Sussman (pictured in the middle of photos on the left).

The first Docs in the Kitchen event, held June 10 at Hacienda at the River, focused on gluten-free diets and offered participants a cooking demonstration of three different recipes for ratatouille served over rice, couscous and gluten-free noodles. After the demonstration, participants share in a buffet-style tasting.

Mums the word on what will be served at this second culinary learning experience, where Hacienda at the River Executive Chef David Sullivan (pictured on the right above left) will whip up some surprisingly tasty fare for those who need to reduce salt in their diets. That can include those with high blood pressure, heart disease and, again, kidney disease, just to name a few.

Images of Mindy Fain, MD, and David Lieberman, MDJoining them Sept. 30 will be a couple holdovers from the first Docs in the Kitchen event, Mindy Fain, MD, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine and co-director of the UArizona Center on Aging, and David Lieberman, MD, who prior to joining her Image of The Hacienda at the River, a Watermark Retirement Community, in Tucsondivision, was a noted chef, cookbook author and host of the Food Network’s “Good Deal with Dave Lieberman” TV series.

This event is a fundraiser with a portion of the ticket price going to the University of Arizona Foundation and net proceeds benefiting the University of Arizona Gastroenterology and Nephrology programs. Tickets are $100 per person, $70 of which qualifies as a tax-deductible donation. Payments are processed by the University of Arizona.

Space is limited so advanced registration is required. Please call 520-485-1060 to RSVP by Sept. 26.

Come and experience a fun and informative cooking demonstration and tasty food that you can prepare yourself. 

Add this event to your calendar here

About the Chef

Executive Chef David Sullivan prepares a meal at the Hacienda at the River retirement community.With 30 years of food service experience, David Sullivan, MAEd, executive chef at Hacienda at the River, holds a University of Arizona bachelor’s degree and University of Phoenix master’s degree in education. He studied culinary arts at Pima Community College and restaurant management at Northern Arizona University. Sullivan apprenticed under Chef Jason Jonilonis at the Westward Look Resort and worked in many other Tucson area restaurants. He taught culinary arts at Ironwood Ridge High School and was a faculty member of the Culinary Arts Department at the Art Institute of Tucson for seven years. In addition, he was executive chef for three years at The Forum at Tucson, a senior living community, and at Cornerstone Hospital for one year. He also spent a season at McMurdo Station in Antarctica as sous chef. A former actor, director and writer in the Tucson theater world as well, Sullivan sees food and cooking as a form of performance art and a means to bring people together to add joy to their lives. In that respect, he finds food to be healing and transformative. 

NOTE: For additional information on future Cookin’ Docs events, please contact Carmen Mendoza (, 520-626-6743) in the Division of Gastorenterology and Hepatology.

Flavorful Low-Sodium Fare

Here are some resources for folks whose health falls under the category of medical conditions requiring low-salt diets:Illustration of saguaro cactus with chef's hat and apron and the words: "Cookin' Docs -- Eat Your Guts Out!"

“Photo Gallery: Cookin’ Docs event offers tips for those with sensitive palates” | Posted June 16, 2023
“Hacienda at the River to Host June 10 ‘Cookin’ Docs’ Reboot Event” | Posted May 12, 2023

Release Date: 
08/29/2023 - 2:15pm