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Sacramento, CA – The California Assisted Living Association (CALA) announces that Chef Mikah Montoya with The Oars Senior Living in Citrus Heights has been awarded Culinary Knockout Champion. The Culinary Knockout Competition, a first-of-its-kind event connecting culinary students with senior living executive chefs, was held on April 24th at Sysco’s Sacramento headquarters. Chef Mikah will be honored on Wednesday, June 5th at Elevate: CALA’s Spring Conference & Trade Show.

Teams consisted of one executive chef from a CALA-member community and two culinary students from area high schools. They competed in three rounds – soup, entrée, and dessert – and each dish was scored by a panel of four judges. The winning team, headed by Chef Mikah, included students from Cosumnes Oaks High School. Students from the top three teams received cash prizes and a chef’s knife set.

Culinary Knockout Champion Chef Mikah Montoya (center) and Teammates from Cosumnes Oaks High School

During the day-long event, the executive chefs taught the students about new ingredients, coached them on cooking techniques, and demonstrated how to produce dishes for residents that are healthy, nutritious, flavorful, on-trend, and appeal to all senses.

The event was spearheaded by CALA’s Culinary Taskforce as an innovative way to introduce senior living culinary careers to students. CALA President Sally Michael says, “The senior living field is a wonderful option for those looking for a career with growth potential and a sense of purpose. Not only do dining services team members get to be creative and innovative in the kitchen, but they have the opportunity to really get to know the people they are cooking for and impact their quality of life for the better.”

Student competitors represented Bella Vista High School, Cosumnes Oaks High School, Florin High School, and River City High School. Competing chefs represented Atria El Camino Gardens, Atria Hillsdale, Eskaton Village Grass Valley, Eskaton Village Roseville, Oakmont of Folsom, Oakmont of Roseville, and The Oars Senior Living.

The event is part of CALA’s workforce development initiative, Growing the Workforce Together. The senior living profession is on a trajectory for significant job growth, and California’s projections exceed all other states. By 2025, a workforce of 136,000-plus will be needed to serve older adults and their families in the state. In addition to events such as the Culinary Knockout Competition, CALA provides online-based tools and resources to help senior living providers develop and sustain a workforce ready to meet the needs of California’s older adults.

About CALA
With more than 650 provider members and over 150 associate members, CALA is the only association solely representing the state’s Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly, which encompass Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities. CALA provides leadership through advocacy efforts and education to support providers in their efforts to offer the highest quality programs and services to their residents.


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