Cura Hospitality’s Culinary Director at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Ryan Sonson is thinking out of the box to help offset staffing shortages.
Chef Ryan, who oversees culinary innovation at all AHN hospitals throughout Western Pennsylvania, has forged a new strategic partnership with Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, a non-profit organization that provides culinary training and opens career pathways to individuals who experience barriers to employment. Students participating in the two-month culinary program, learn the essential back-of-house skill sets for successful job placement. According to Chef Ryan, “the program helps these individuals get back on their feet and become contributing members of society.”
Community Kitchen Pittsburgh recently invited Chef Ryan to visit their space and conduct a cooking demonstration. As part of the demonstration, Chef Ryan shared his culinary skills with the students, while also increasing exposure for the Cura brand and laying the groundwork for sourcing potential new team members! “The dish I came up with was a play of sorts on the pierogi, a Pittsburgh favorite fused together into a taco.” The pierogi was filled with roasted corn, poblano pepper, potato puree and a stringy Oaxacan Cheese.
Students learned to fill a corn tortilla, fry it in a pan with oil and then brush it with a smoked Mexican Mole sauce. While still wet with the sauce, students topped it with a dry Mexican Queso Molido cheese, along with avocado and cilantro. This delicious meal was served with spiced black beans and steamed basmati rice.
“It is a truly a win-win and allows us to not only strengthen the Cura brand within the community but also helps us in turn, source potential new employees in a depleted market. This class helped us cement a relationship with a tremendous local organization that has already led to an externship program within our network,” says Chef Ryan.
During the class, Chef Ryan also shared the benefits employees receive when working with a contract foodservice company, stating how hospitality organizations like Cura provide flexible working schedules, are family-friendly, offer tuition reimbursement and complimentary in-house training. Cura Hospitality team members learn trend-forward culinary techniques from certified executive chefs, as well as receive training on how to enhance the patient and guest experience.
Partnerships with food vendors and suppliers provide employees with new opportunities for training and education related to new products, systems and services. “Ongoing training enhances our team members’ skill set so they have opportunities to advance throughout the organization,” adds Chef Ryan. Cura’s team members are valued, receive recognition and are routinely celebrated for their successes!
Chef Ryan will continue to explore future opportunities with organizations like Community Kitchen Pittsburgh in an effort to help positively impact people’s lives through food!
Thank you Chef Ryan for working proactively and creatively to address our current labor challenges!