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Cooking Outside the Box

Meet CareOne at Hamilton’s Newest Culinary Star: Matthew McElmoyl

CareOne at Hamilton Assisted Living has always been known for its elevated cooking: Its culinary professionals use farm-to-table ingredients and from scratch cooking techniques to develop seasonal dishes and fresh desserts. But recently, the center took its dining experience up another notch, hiring a well-seasoned chef, and former bistro owner, Matthew McElmoyl, to head up its food and beverage department.

A graduate of the Academy of Culinary Arts in May’s Landing and a New Jersey native, McElmoyl has spent the last several years cooking in some of the Garden State’s most notable kitchens. He’s been executive chef at Renault Winery, cooked Italian specialties for celebrities like Natalie Cole in an intimate bistro in Atlantic City, and helped open Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, the Philadelphia eatery owned by acclaimed James Beard award-winning Chef Jean- Marie Lacroix.

McElmoyl might be best known to locals as the former owner of Oliver A. Bistro, a Bordentown spot he purchased in 2006 and transformed from a luncheonette into a full-blown French bistro. At Oliver’s, he was known for putting his own spin on specials like mussels with coconut Thai sauce and rack of lamb with bean cassoulet.

McElmoyl joined CareOne as director of food and beverage services after he shuttered his restaurant. Some local residents fondly remember dining at Oliver’s. “It’s like I’m a mini celebrity here,” he says.

As a renowned chef, McElmoyl brings a lot to the table. Not only is he happy to make some of his celebrated specials from Oliver’s available to residents (many ask for his famed “mussels red linguine”), but he takes the time to regularly meet one-on-one with residents to understand their dietary needs and special requests.

In addition, McElmoyl, who has spent years attending farmer’s markets and developing relationships with garden fresh food purveyors, is able to leverage those relationships to expand CareOne’s farm-to-table food program. Every Friday, he visits his favorite local farmers to bring back a bounty of seasonal produce. Recently, he’s procured radishes, kale, and asparagus to whip up fresh spring fare.

Come summertime, he knows the best sources for Jersey peaches and sweet corn. McElmoyl says one of his favorite parts of his new post is watching CareOne’s residents bite into a juicy, fresh peach or enjoy a newly picked piece of cantaloupe.

“When they bite into a Jersey peach, their faces just light up and they’re transported to the good old days of their childhood,” he says. “It makes me feel so good to help people remember the great things in life.” He also enjoys the role his food plays in promoting residents’ health and wellness. “That’s something I wasn’t able to do as a restaurant chef,” he says.

McElmoyl started his post at CareOne at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when most residents had to take meals in their rooms. So, he spent a great deal of his time getting to know each resident’s culinary tastes and creating made-to-order meals for them. Now that the CareOne dining room has re-opened its doors to residents, McElmoyl says he’s excited to be able to create more meals for special events.

Recently, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, McElmoyl and his team cooked up a feast of Irish favorites all month long. All meals were accompanied by Irish music to help get residents in the spirit.

“Once COVID is over, we can really show the community what we’re all about here at CareOne,” he says. And like any good chef, McElmoyl says he’ll continue to treat guests as if they were customers in his restaurant. “I’ve always loved to delight people with food, but here at CareOne, I’m working even harder to do that,” he says. “When you see residents smiling and enjoying food while reminiscing about old times, you know you’re really making a difference.”

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