Monday, August 1, 2011

The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and Chef Robert Hall on Social Media

Last week the four ladies who make up the Arkansas Women Bloggers Leadership team (StephanieFawn, Beth and Julie) had the opportunity to get together at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain for a whirlwind overnight planning session.  We were treated like royalty and were able to develop a plan for the growth of Arkansas Women Bloggers.  We have LOADS of exciting things in the works and look forward to presenting them to you.  We will be making some changes in the next couple weeks and hope you continue to check in on us and see our progress.

Our time at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute was well spent but was not ALL business!  On Monday, we, along with a few lucky members of Arkansas Women Bloggers, were treated to a culinary demonstration in the Institute's state-of-the-art kitchen.  We were treated to a five course meal prepared by the institutes Culinary Programs Director and admitted social media skeptic, Chef Robert Hall.
Chef Robert L. Hall, CEC Biography
Robert Hall began his culinary career in 1991 as a prep cook at A Place To Eat, a locally owned, family dining restaurant in Conway, Arkansas.  The restaurant’s chef noticed in Robert a culinary aptitude, the willingness and desire to learn, and the creativity required to become a successful culinarian and arranged for him to apprentice at The Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas.   After relocating in 1996 to the beautiful Wasatch Mountains of Utah, Robert continued his culinary training at the Sundance Resort, home of the Sundance Film Festival.  It was in Utah that Robert branched out on his own with his catering company – Signature Catering – and his restaurant – Dixieland Jazz.

In 2004, Robert returned to Arkansas to pursue graduate studies at his collegiate alma mater – the University of Central Arkansas – where he accepted a position with Aramark as the pastry chef at UCA and later, in 2006, took over culinary operations as the Executive Chef.  May 2011, Chef Hall joined the staff at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain in Morrilton, Arkansas, where he serves as the Culinary Program Coordinator.  He is responsible for planning and executing a wide variety of culinary programs such as the popular Saturday Chef Series, Chef On Call, and Taste of Teamwork.Inspired by his mentors and his own experiences traveling the world, Chef Hall calls his food “global fusion,” an amalgamation of flavors and textures influenced by the regional flavors of the United States and the global flavors of the world.

Robert has earned several culinary awards including a silver medal in the 2007 Southwest Regional ACE Challenge and gold medals in the 2009 and 2011 Southwest Regional ACE Challenge, as well as a bronze medal in the 2009 National ACE Challenge.  Additionally, Robert was honored with the opportunity to work in Beijing, China, as an Executive Chef for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.  Robert appears with Heather Kendrick on a recurring cooking segment, 5 Minute Dishes on Living Local, on Conway Corporation’s local cable channel 6.  Chef Hall is a member of the American Culinary Federation, International Association of Culinary Professionals, Confectionary Artist of Arkansas, and other professional organizations.  He is also an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Robert is married to Sara Olds of Conway and is the father of three:  Christian (17), Kaitlyn (16), and Ashley (14).

Chef Hall Thoughts on Social Media
During the course of the culinary demonstration Chef Hall admitted that he had a little bit of skepticism when it came to believing in the importance of social media.  I asked him to share his before and after thoughts with us.  Here is what he had to say:

Prior to last week, I was one of those "what's the big deal" guys.  I got on My Space when it was launched and it quickly lost steam.  Like everyone else, I replaced my MySpace with Facebook.  In the beginning, I got on Facebook everyday, sometimes several times a day.  I thought it was cool using this technology to reconnect with friends from the past and to take occasional, leisure strolls down amnesia lane.  Facebook quickly became annoying to me, with its own language - OMG and LOL.  I speak other languages, but am having difficulty understanding @TEOTD, AMBW, LFD, and UKTR.  I
kept a blog during my time in China and posted on it daily, but stopped when I returned to the US because of the time commitment.  Understand, a chef's like is nonstop, from morning until night; every 2 or 3 minute window was precious; I barely was able to keep up with email, much less updating my status or creating a blog post.

Well, my eyes have been opened, at least a little, to the power and impact of social media.  As a social networking tool, I understand the ease of connecting with others; distance and even time are no longer issues in our communication with each other.  As a business networking tool, I can see how social media can be even more powerful; keeping people informed about what's going on and what's coming up, creating a unified brand identity on the many different social media services, and promoting that brand to a captive audience who have essentially asked for your information is powerful indeed.  Gone will be the days of spam and junk mail.  I hate the pizza flyers and weekly ads that I received in my mailbox; however, I appreciate the fact that the only messages I get on Facebook.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Look out, here I come...

Chef Hall has graciously agreed to share his recipes from the event with us. We will be featuring them all week beginning on Tuesday.In the meantime, you might want to check out these bloggers who attended the event last week.

Amanda Brown (My Heart's Desire)
Stephanie Buckley (
The Park Wife & Arkansas Women Bloggers)
Stephanie Hamling (
Proactive Bridesmaid)
Julie Kohl (
Eggs and Herbs & Arkansas Women Bloggers)
Stephanie McCratic (
Evolved Mommy)
Thanh Rasico (
Red Kitchen Recipes)
Fawn Rechkemmer (
Instead of the Dishes, Momcation & Arkansas Women Bloggers)
Kat Robinson (
Eat Arkansas/The Arkansas Times & Tie Dye Travels)
Beth Stephens (
Little Magpie, The Food Adventuress, ONSC & Arkansas Women Bloggers)

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