SURPRISE, ARIZ. , Oct. 21, 2015 – Thomas Smith IV graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1991 at age 25. Twenty-four years later, the seasoned executive chef is returning to the CIA, this time as one of 16 chefs selected for the much sought-after Culinary Enrichment and Innovation Program (CEIP), a one-year course of study where elite chefs learn how to identify, practice and master culinary leadership and innovation skills. The CEIP, now entering its fourth session, is a collaboration between the CIA and the Foodservice Division of Hormel Foods.
“I’m looking forward to going back to school and my roots,” said Smith, who has been the executive chef for nine years at La Loma Village, a Sun Health Senior Living Life Care community in Litchfield Park, Arizona, where he also serves as the director of dining services.
A record number of chefs applied for this year’s CEIP class, attesting to the program’s growing reputation for excellence. The students, from 11 different states, work in a variety of settings including multi-unit restaurants, hotels, universities and hospitals. Smith holds the distinction of being the only chef from a senior living community.
“It’s a diverse group of chef students and teachers so it’s bound to be an eye-opening experience,” Smith said. “I plan to share all the innovations we’ve developed in senior living dining as well.”
The CEIP begins Oct. 26 and training modules will be offered at all three of CIA’s U.S. campuses, which are in St. Helena, California; San Antonio, Texas; and Hyde Park, New York.
Smith, who grew up in Orange County, California, began working in food service when he was 16 as part of a high school business class. “I’ve been in the kitchen ever since,” he said. He started with entry-level chores and worked his way up, gaining experience in fast food, stadium food service, hotels, restaurants and country clubs before discovering retirement-living dining.
Smith has developed a love for working with the residents at La Loma Village. “My passion comes from knowing I am making a difference in someone’s life. Whether it’s someone on my team, one of our residents or a resident’s family, it is the satisfaction of knowing I may have made their day a little better.”
“Sun Health and La Loma Village are very fortunate to have a chef of Tom’s caliber in the organization and we are very proud of him for being selected for the CEIP classes,” said Susan Davis, executive director of La Loma Village.
About Sun Health
A long-standing champion of healthy living, research and superior health care, Sun Health is a community-based health and wellness organization comprised of Sun Health Foundation, Sun Health Senior Living and Sun Health Community Wellness, including the Center for Health & Wellbeing.