We are quite proud of the menu that has been crafted at Hail Fellow Well Met! There are many minds behind the curation of this menu, but arguably none more influential than Chef Tyler Rogers. Chef Tyler has been an integral part of Hail Fellow Well Met since it launched in September 2021. With a few exceptions, his fingerprints are on each dish that is served in our cafe.
Chef Tyler Rogers
Chef Tyler started his journey with food at fifteen working at a catfish shack in Magnolia, Arkansas. Although he initially began working in food more as a necessity, he developed a passion for food working at the Capitol Hotel in Little Rock in his early twenties. Working in this environment gave him a closer look at the exciting world of the culinary arts. His time here led him to, what he sites at one of the two most influential restaurants he worked for in his culinary journey thus far: The French Laundry. Tyler had the opportunity to work under Thomas Keller whom he says is “all you could ask for in a mentor.” One thing that stood out to Tyler in his experience at The French Laundry was the camaraderie that Keller instilled into his kitchen and staff. Each staff member is required to greet every person on shift at the start of their shift and bid them farewell before they leave. It is seemingly small things like this that point to a culture of inclusivity and collaboration which Tyler now strives to bring the staff to Hail Fellow Well Met!
After his time at The French Laundry, he expanded his range of culinary experience by taking a position at Elizabeth Restaurant in Chicago. Where The French Laundry was focused on procuring the highest quality of ingredients regardless of the cost, Elizabeth sought to provide a high quality experience through foraging and utilizing lost or forgotten foods and methods of preparation. This experience taught Tyler how to draw from the world around him to craft food that brings a deeper connection past one meal. He says, “I like the idea of using the terroir around us in the menu. It ties us into a time and place.” This ideology has been instilled into him and informs the way he approaches the menu at HFWM, particularly in how he sources ingredients. The majority of what he uses in the dishes he creates is sourced through local farmers and relationships. Tyler explained that not only does this bring a higher degree of quality and freshness to each dish, but it helps to develop a local ecosystem in Northwest Arkansas.
Chef Tyler loves introducing foods to folks that they normally wouldn’t try. He says that in a way he views the Hail Fellow Well Met menu as a way to teach the customer about different foods. He achieves this through how the food is prepared within the context of what his customers are familiar with as well as the visual aesthetics of each dishes. In preparation he shares that, “we take food people aren’t comfortable with, prepared in a way you are.” For example he says that the Midsommar, his favorite dish, utilizes goat meat which is not your typical meat selection in the Arkansas crowd. However, it is prepared as a smoked meat which is something that Arkansas natives are very familiar with. Despite being a meat that many may not be overtly accustomed to this method invites the customer to explore a new choice in a context they know. From here he can create more adventurous dishes using goat since his customers have already embraced it. Additionally the plating of each dish brings a level of intrigue to our menu. “People eat with their eyes,” he says, and because of this each dish is meticulously plated to be as visually appealing as possible.
Hail Fellow Well Met has recently finished one year of operation and in that year we have journeyed through a number of exquisite dishes thanks to the creativity, values and experience of Chef Tyler Rogers. We are looking forward to trying the many creations he has up his sleeve as we continue to grow into the future. Chef Tyler loves hearing from customers, so stop by, say hello and pull up a chair.