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Categories: 2024 Seasoned in Service, FEB/MARCH 2024, FOOD & DRINK, Seasoned in Service

Seasoned in Service:
Mark Robinson
22 years, nine as a culinary arts instructor at Hutchings College and Career Academy

Seasoned in Service is a series in our annual Food Issues, celebrating local food service professionals who have been in the business for ten or more years, highlighting their invaluable contributions to our community.

Interviews by Sierra Stark Stevens

Photos by DSTO Moore

Seasoned in Service has a two-fold meaning in the case of Chef Robinson, who was a chef to seven generals over 13 years during his duty as the General’s Enlisted Aide/Private Chef in the United States Air Force (USAF). For the last nine years, he has served his community by teaching at the Bibb County School District’s Hutchings College and Career Academy, a Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) institution that trains students for 17 vocational tracks, including culinary. The students and instructors operate a café called Compass Rose, serving a four-course luncheon each Friday. While Robinson’s life story may span continents, his reason for sticking with food service is simple: “You can make people happy with great food.”


How did you come to live in Macon?

Being selected to work for Lt. Gen. Stenner at Warner Robins Air Force Base in 2009 brought me to the Macon area. My wife and I liked the area enough to retire here. I retired in 2015 from the USAF after 24 years of service. Since retiring, I’ve enjoyed my role as a culinary arts instructor. I’m able to share my expertise with my students and help them reach their goals of becoming chefs.


Do certain attitudes or principles guide your work?

In the USAF (and still today), I have lived by Excellence in All We Do, Integrity First, and Service before Self. So, I brought those three principles into my classroom to instill them into my students. I also came up with the 3 Ps. Present: Be on time, put in your best every day, and be mentally present. Prepared: Be ready to work and learn every day, be ready to perform what you learn, and have your tools every day. Professional: Bring your positive attitude, be respectful at all times, and dress to impress. I feel that all of these principles are crucial in the service industry and especially in life.


What’s special about Macon’s food scene?
I have been fortunate to travel to over 40 countries and all over the U.S. I really like the Macon food scene because there are so many different cuisine choices from barbecue, seafood, Italian, American, Southern, Mexican, Spanish, Indian and so much more. 


What makes Compass Rose Café unique?
We serve a four-course set menu that changes every week, cooked and served by the students we teach here at Hutchings College and Career Academy.


What makes you most proud at the end of the day?
What makes me proud is knowing that I’m helping young students learn a trade and a skill that they will use the rest of their lives.

I have been fortunate to help over 40 students get hired in numerous local restaurants. I have also had a few students follow in my footsteps and join the service. What really makes me know I am impacting these young men and women is when they tell me they wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for me teaching them in culinary and in life. 


What do you wish outsiders knew about the service industry?
It’s a very rewarding career path because you can make people happy with great food.


Outside of work, what’s most important to you?
I enjoy spending time with my wife, Katie, traveling, playing golf, and barbecuing.