Elant Approved as a Site to Host The Culinary Institute of America’s Externship Program

Students will have opportunity to learn changing demands of dining in health care

GOSHEN, N.Y. (Aug. 28, 2012) – Elant, the Hudson Valley’s premier provider of senior health and housing solutions, today announced that it has been approved by The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) as a site for its Externship Program.


CIA students nearing the end of their class work will now have the opportunity to apply for an 18-week externship with Elant. The students will work under the tutelage of the organization’s chefs assisting with menu development and cooking meals for residents in six of Elant’s kitchens located at Glen Arden in Goshen, Elant at Goshen, Elant at Meadow Hill, Elant at Wappingers Falls and Elant at Fishkill.


Dennis Merget, Food Service Director for Elant at Meadow Hill, was instrumental in initiating the partnership on behalf of the organization and navigating the stringent application process. A committee comprised of faculty and staff from The Culinary Institute of America reviewed Elant’s initial application, interviewed Merget and Chris O’Toole, Vice President and Executive Director of Elant at Meadow Hill, and observed the Meadow Hill and Glen Arden kitchen operations. The committee also reviewed the resumes of each of Elant’s executive chefs, menus from the properties and an outline of Elant’s proposed externship program.


The Culinary Institute of America’s Externship Program is a paid program which totals approximately 600 hours. There are more than 1,000 externship sites, with most located throughout the United States but some are abroad. Typically there are 450 to 475 externs in the field at any given time.


Merget said Elant will be an attractive place for externs to work because they are joining at a revolutionary time when significant changes are being made in dining services in the long-term care and senior housing industries. Facilities are moving away from traditional institutional tray service to restaurant style, fine-dining including creative menus and wait staff. This year, Elant’s facilities have started to implement their plans to make this transition.


“We are meeting the changing demand of our customers – our residents – right now,” O’Toole said. “Long-term care residents are expecting higher-end food service. We are preparing and serving foods in a restaurant-style manner and giving our residents more menu choices. This is an exciting time for those in the food industry to be working in health care.”


Merget said the industry is changing because its clientele is changing. “We are marketing to Baby Boomers and their families, who expect a higher level of dining service than the traditional industry approach, and we are proud to provide this service,” he said.


At Elant, like any skilled nursing care facility, there is a wide range of dietary needs and preferences, ranging from regular diets to special diets to therapeutic diets. The externs will gain experience with menu development and incorporating nutrition requirements into meal options that are varied, healthy and well-received by a diverse group of diners. The extern will work closely with each of Elant’s registered dieticians, diet technicians and chefs to develop a working understanding of menu varieties and their impact on the dining experience in a nursing and rehabilitation facility.


O’Toole feels Elant will attract many students of The Culinary Institute of America who enrolled in the chef program as a second career because the work schedule for Elant’s chefs is a little less strenuous and offers more flexibility – working less weekends, evening hours and holiday hours. “For those with a family who may not want to put in those typical later evening and weekend chef hours, Elant is the perfect place.”


“I think this is a great opportunity for Elant and The Culinary Institute of America to work together to incorporate fine dining in a healthcare setting, this is where the future of the healthcare industry is going,” Merget said. “We’re looking forward to getting the program started and our residents will enjoy the experience as well.”