Major: Culinary Arts
Job Title: Director of Food Services, Community Based Services
Location: North Salem, NY
Chef Allan Katz’s career in the hospitality industry has been one of shared experiences, the passing of knowledge to the next generation, and the creation of communities. As director of food services at Community Based Services and the culinary mastermind behind not-for-profit Good Reasons™, a dog treat company, the combination of creating meals while benefiting those in need is something he gets to do every day.
Community Based Services, Inc. (CBS) is a not-for-profit organization that provides the highest level of individualized care for people with autism and developmental disabilities in home and community-based settings. Based out of North Salem, NY the organization serves Westchester and Dutchess County.
Allan was the executive chef and owner of the popular Allyn’s Restaurant & Café in Millbrook, NY for 20 years. When he sold the restaurant in 2006, Allan approached Vicki Sylvester, CEO of Community Based Services, suggesting efficiencies to CBS’ food purchasing and menu development. “Each house was shopping for itself with menus approved by a nutritionist. I said it would be better to have a central location so they could buy wholesale and prepare menus in one location,” Allan recalls. “Now, all the houses eat off the same seasonal, four-week rotating menu.” As an extension of the educational services CBS offers, a new farming operation has been established in partnership with Briggs Farm in Pleasant Valley, NY where residents work tending and harvesting organic, pesticide free produce earmarked for the group homes.
The creation of Good Reasons™ came about when the state of New York asked its network of providers to help create jobs for people with disabilities. With production facilities in Brewster and Poughkeepsie that employ 10 people, the organization has grown steadily since its launch on July 1, 2014. Allan developed the recipes after considerable research about what’s healthy for dogs to consume. The treats have all human-grade ingredients like herbs and spices, vegetables, coconut oil, barley and rice flour, peanut butter, green peas, and blueberries, geared toward keeping a dogs diet healthy “There’s no profit for anybody, if we do have a surplus it goes back into the program. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved—a high quality product with a high quality mission,” says Allan.
Allan’s own culinary journey has been rewarding and fulfilling. “I got a strong foundation of product knowledge from the CIA,” he says. “To this day I look back on my education, which exposed me to all aspects of the culinary world, and know it gave me the confidence to experiment on my own and adapt to current trends. Certainly having the CIA on my résumé helped me land positions that furthered my career and ultimately led to owning my own restaurant. Plus, I had the opportunity to hire CIA students like Ben Pollinger, now the executive chef at Oceana Restaurant in New York City. It’s always thrilling for me to see former employees develop out in the world. In a way, I’m passing the torch to a whole new generation of chefs.”