Most people who visit any of the dining facilities at Texas A&M probably do not give what is being cooked or served a second thought. But for this man, it is not just a thought, it is his passion.
Gary Arthur is that man and he is the Senior Executive Chef and Director of Operations at A&M. For most of his life he has been using "the dining experience" as his artistic canvas.
"I found that there were you know ways that I could express all of my creativity and all of my abilities and all of my intelligence," Arthur said.
In his early teens, he obtained an apprenticeship with the United Nations as a dishwasher. That lead to his entrance into a four year program that trained him in various aspects of the culinary arts.
Arthur said while his was training he decided he wanted to be the standard.
"When I chose cooking the only thing I knew was that one day I would be the very, very best at it," Arthur said.
But at the time he said he knew the only roles African-Americans had in the profession where in back of the kitchen. In fact, he recalls being told that would be constrained to certain positions. Arthur refused to accept those limitations.
"I challenged that because I knew that the opportunities were there and I knew that I could be able to reach whatever level that was capable to me."
Arthur graduated from the UN program with invaluable knowledge that would aid him in his career. He learned more than just the art of preparing various cuisines.
He was taught management, people relations, and experience communities beyond the one he grew up in. And his training lead him to multiple destinations.
"I was able to go to the Ritz Carlton in Chicago, I worked for [the] Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, [and] I ran Luxury Spa and Hotel in Sonoma, California," Arthur said.
Eventually it brought him to Aggieland to become A&M's first senior executive chef and director of operations. His expertise caught the eye of the university and they recruited him to help revive one of A&M's traditions.
"We want to be the benchmark, we want to regain that title of the old Fred Dollar days where Texas A&M is known as being innovative and known as being creative and known as meeting the needs."
With a 30 million dollar budget and close to 900 staffers, Arthur's goal is using all available resources to create meals and dining environments that are reflective of what students want. Senior Executive Chef Arthur said he did not imagine where he is now, but he said he aimed high.
"I knew there were people at the very top and I set that as my goal," Arthur said.
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