The Culinary Institute of America and Hormel Foods Announce the 16 Chefs Chosen for Their Fourth Culinary Leadership Class

Austin, MN – The successful Culinary Enrichment and Innovation Program (CEIP), a collaboration between The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and the Foodservice Division of Hormel Foods (NYSE: HRL) has announced the 16 students who will comprise its CEIP Class of 2016. The students, who hail from 11 different states, represent foodservice operations in both the commercial and non-commercial segments ranging from multi-unit restaurants to hotels to universities to hospitals and senior living. Their 12-month journey of culinary excellence will begin October 26, 2015. CEIP is the only professional development program to offer advanced management training specifically designed for skilled chefs.

Now beginning its fourth session, CEIP received a record number of applications for the Class of 2016, attesting to both the heightened awareness and effectiveness of the program. While the minimum requirement for entry into the program is 10 years of professional experience, each of this year’s chosen chefs has at least 15 years in the field.

“The whole CEIP program is about enrichment and innovation. In our previous graduating classes we’ve seen how the participants use the information they’ve learned to better their menus, to challenge their purchasing position, and to try to get better products into their establishments,” said Dave Kamen, project manager of CIA Consulting and CEIP program director.

The Class of 2016 will attend modules at all three of the college’s U.S. campuses: St. Helena, CA (Module 1), San Antonio, TX (Module 2), and Hyde Park, NY (Modules 3). This will give the class the unique opportunity to experience the seasonal differences in the CIA’s programs across the country.

The program’s objective is to teach an elite group of professional chefs how to identify, practice, and master the necessary skills for culinary leadership and innovation. CEIP participants gather for three intense days every six months, disconnecting from their daily responsibilities as senior-level chefs and immersing themselves in lectures, homework, hands-on kitchen work and one-to-one dialogue with fellow chefs and visiting guest lecturers. Consisting of three academic and experiential modules, CEIP covers a range of topics, including contemporary flavors and techniques; health and wellness; leadership and innovation; and menu R&D as a collaboration of culinary arts, consumer behavior, food science and management. Participants will explore everything from the relationships among the five senses, to principles of modernist cuisine. They’ll also tour a local farm and winery, create food focused on world flavor traditions to better understand its profit potential, and explore novel approaches to developing new applications that help differentiate their operation.

The educational modules of CEIP were created in 2008 for the inaugural CEIP class, and have steadily evolved to reflect changes in the foodservice industry. Among those attending will be several chefs from colleges and universities, including Yale University Assistant Director/Executive Chef David Kuzma, who recently opened the Yale School of Management hospitality operation after working on the concept for two years; and Northern Michigan University’s Executive Chef – Director NMU Catering and Events and Adjunct Professor for Hospitality Management/Culinary Nathan Mileski, who has a diverse background in hotels, restaurants, country clubs, and now university dining. Attendees from the healthcare segment include Tyler Ehlert, regional executive chef at Mckay Dee Hospital – Intermountain Healthcare, who maintains high level kitchens and staff in four North Region hospitals; and Thomas Smith IV, director of dining services at La Loma Village, who has applied his classical training to provide his patrons with a variety of options that are creative and consistent. Others in the class include Suleka Sun-Lindley, executive chef and owner at the Thai Basil Restaurant, who is a former interior designer but ultimately found her passion in the kitchen; and Salvador Delgado, executive chef at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, where he has been working for the past 24 years.

“We want to help these chefs see the world a bit differently, so they can bring a broader vision and wider horizons to their organizations, and ultimately the industry at large,” said Bill Dion, product innovation team leader for the Foodservice Division of Hormel Foods. The company is a co-founder of the program and has underwritten the development of the curriculum. It also sponsors the tuition for each of the participating students. “We feel we’re helping to prepare today’s best and brightest chefs for leadership in our industry,” Dion said. For more information on the program and the Class of 2016, please visit

CEIP Class of 2016

  • Tyler Ehlert—Mckay Dee Hospital – Intermountain Healthcare
  • Jacqueline Kleis—Pollo Tropical
  • Thomas Smith IV—La Loma Village
  • John Brazie—The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center
  • Salvador Delgado—Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel
  • Lamar Moore—Hotel Chicago, Marriott
  • Polly Sang—Compass Group USA
  • Mark Kowalski—Pennsylvania State University
  • David Kuzma—Yale University
  • Beth Partenheimer—University of Illinois
  • Nathan Mileski—Northern Michigan University
  • Matthew Young—Hula Grill Waikiki
  • Mario Stanzione—Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
  • Kevin Petroske—Axel’s & Bonefire Restaurants
  • Suleka Sun-Lindley—Thai Basil Restaurant
  • Christian Rumpler—Walt Disney World

Media Contact:

Stacy Mitchell
Hormel Foodservice
JT Mega

About The Culinary Institute of America

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to driving leadership development for the foodservice and hospitality industry, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts; bachelor’s degree majors in management, culinary science, and applied food studies; and executive education through its Food Business School. Its conferences and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food industry in the areas of health & wellness, sustainability, world cuisines & cultures, and professional excellence & innovation. The college also offers certificate programs and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its worldwide network of 48,000 alumni includes leaders in every area of foodservice and hospitality. The CIA has campuses in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.

About Hormel Foods

Hormel Foods Corporation, based in Austin, MN, is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products, many of which are among the best known and trusted in the food industry. The company leverages its extensive expertise, innovation and high competencies in pork and turkey processing and marketing to bring branded, value-added products to the global marketplace. The company is a member of the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index, Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, Maplecroft Climate Innovation Indexes, Global 1000 Sustainable Performance Leaders, and was named one of “The 100 Most Trustworthy Companies” by Forbes in 2010. The company enjoys a strong reputation among consumers, retail grocers, foodservice and industrial customers for products highly regarded for quality, taste, nutrition, convenience and value. For more information, visit

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