November 8, 2013

Austin Executive Chef: Robyn McArthur

By Stacy Hoelting, Culinary Arts Student DSC_018578

An independent, self-motivated woman, Robyn McArthur, is the Executive Chef at the Auguste Escoffier Culinary School’s Austin, Texas campus. She has not only put herself through school while working in kitchens, but she has also owned her own restaurant, and cooked for and with some very prominent individuals. She has assisted in achieving many awards, including five stars and five diamonds, and Robyn has also attended the James Beard House and even catered to former President Bill Clinton. With two degrees and two certifications, she is beyond qualified to be the Executive Chef of the Austin campus.

Provided is a short interview with Robyn:

Escoffier: Where did you grow up and what was your family life like?
McArthur: I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. My father (from Arkansas) was an attorney and restaurant/nightclub owner, and my mother (from Louisiana) was a schoolteacher. I grew up primarily in the suburbs and then later in my teens, we moved out to the country (boarded horses). We were a close family and made regular trips to Louisiana to visit family there.

Escoffier: What were your main influences for attending culinary school?
McArthur: I put myself through college working in kitchens and I loved it. I found that selling art is a difficult way to make a living as well. When I decided I wanted to be a chef, it was not common for most women to get those jobs, and I was often told that I needed a culinary degree…so I did just that.

Escoffier: What has been your favorite job and why?
McArthur: I think working in my own kitchen has been my favorite. I was quite close to most of my customers and it was a pretty tight knit community. I still hear from them occasionally even though I am halfway across the country now.

Escoffier: At what job did you learn the most?
McArthur: Working for Bob Waggoner at the Charleston Grill – hands down. He taught me about buying from farmers, exceptional food, respect for the classics, and how to butcher any fish no matter how big or small.

Escoffier: Why did you decide to join Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts?
McArthur: When I was asked to join this school, it was just starting up. I liked the idea of going through the transitions and helping the school grow.

Escoffier: What led you to become an instructor?
McArthur: I think it may be in the genes. Almost everyone on my mother’s side was a teacher, and my dad did quite a bit of teaching as well. Not only that, but both sides of my families owned restaurants so it now seems like a natural progression for me.

Escoffier: What are you most proud of throughout your career?
McArthur: Opening my own restaurant when many were telling me statistics on failing restaurants.

Escoffier: If you could have any job aside from your job now, what would it be?
McArthur: If money were not a concern, I would be an artist or photographer…or own a small beachside bar.