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Chef Matthew McElmoyl, MCCC Culinary Instructor and Owner of Oliver’s Bistro, Selected for Best Chefs America

Trenton, N.J. – In June, Matthew McElmoyl, owner and executive chef of Oliver A Bistro in Bordentown, was selected from among 5,000 chefs as one of the nation's top culinary talents for the inaugural edition of the book Best Chefs America. Chef Matt, as he is known to his students at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), can add that accolade to his considerable résumé as a chef/restaurateur and popular adjunct instructor at the college’s Trenton campus.

McElmoyl’s culinary connection with MCCC began when Trenton Campus Provost Monica Weaver was enjoying a meal at McElmoyl’s restaurant in August 2011. She asked the busy chef if he knew anyone who would be interested in teaching as an adjunct instructor in Mercer’s Career Training Institute (CTI) culinary program, under the direction of Chef Jorge Maldonado.

That chef turned out to be McElmoyl himself.  “I had always wanted to teach and I had never cooked in a cafeteria setting, so I knew it would be a learning experience for me as well,” he recalls.

MCCC’s CTI Culinary Certificate Program offers short-term training for entry-level jobs in the food service industry, including settings such as hospitals, schools, family restaurants, hotels and catering firms. McEmoyl’s curriculum covers all the basics – from the principles of cooking and cooking history to equipment operation, sanitation, knife skills, and the preparation of breakfast items, stocks and sauces. 

He also stresses organizational skills, known in the business as “mis en place.” “That’s the critical practice that ensures the efficient operation of a kitchen – having what you need, where it needs to be, when you do what you need to do,” he explains.

In the kitchen at MCCC's Trenton campus are Chef Matt McElmoyl, center, and CTI students Issaic Marshall, left, and Arthur Jones.
Chef McElmoyl, third from left, was a guest chef for advanced culinary students at the West Windsor campus in the spring. Also pictured is instructor Bill Beyer, second from left.

McElmoyl also stresses common sense decision making and problem solving at all times.  “You can’t always predict what’s going to come up in the kitchen and you need to have creative solutions,” he says.

As he prepares for his third year in the Trenton campus kitchen, McElmoyl says teaching at Mercer has proven very satisfying. “I really want to help people in the Trenton community learn practical culinary skills that will be enable them to have a productive livelihood in the foodservice industry.”

McElmoyl notes that he also works to give his students a sense of confidence.  “I want them to be able to walk into any kitchen and feel self-assured and not be intimidated.  People don't always realize how much they've learned until it comes time to apply it in a real life setting.”

McElmoyl has found teaching to be a great break from the stress of running a restaurant.  “I enjoy the teaching.  I get to share my knowledge with people who want to learn, as well as to network with people in the industry, potential clients and employees.  I work with great people at the Trenton campus, and now I can add teaching to my résumé.”

Once he dons his chef’s whites at Oliver, the 50-seat B.Y.O.B. bistro he took over in 2006, he is singularly focused on making it the very best of dining experiences.  The restaurant has received favorable reviews from the New York Times and several New Jersey magazines and newspapers, and has earned a Zagat rating that is among the best in New Jersey.

He describes his menu as based on French techniques with global influences.  “I work very closely with local farmers, and that allows me to use the finest local ingredients,” he says. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, featuring gourmet cuisine as well as a Tapas menu.  Patrons may also select from a three-course, price-fixed dinner menu Tuesday through Friday nights.

McElmoyl says he is humbled to be included in Best Chefs America.  “It’s great to be recognized by my peers for doing something that I love to do,” he says.  With this honor, McElmoy finds himself in the exclusive company of fewer than five percent of all chefs in the United States. 

McElmoyl’s success is no doubt due, in part, to his philogosphy about his customers. “My customers are my guests.  I appreciate the opportunity to serve them,” he says.

McElmoyl earned his associate degree in Culinary Arts from the Academy of Culinary Arts in Mays Landing, NJ, and was also schooled by working at prestigious restaurants in Southern New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

More about MCCC’s CTI Culinary Certificate program can be found here.  For more on Chef McElmoyl’s restaurant, visit www.oliverabistro.com.

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