Executive Chef Joins WRMC

WRMC Executive Chef Blake WilbanksBatesville, ARK—As a line forms around the action station at Café V, Chef Blake Wilbanks and his staff work their magic to personally serve wrap after wrap, salad after salad, meal after meal, and they’re getting rave reviews. Chef Blake recently joined White River Medical Center (WRMC) as Executive Chef of WRMC’s Food and Nutrition Department, announced Gary Bebow, CEO of White River Health System (WRHS).

He is responsible for overseeing and assisting staff with planning, preparing, and serving meals in Café V (WRMC’s in-house restaurant), providing meals to patient rooms, and catering events.

Chef Blake attended Culinary School at Jefferson State in Birmingham, Alabama. He has 18 years of experience in many different aspects of restaurant work, including several years as a Healthcare Chef in Tennessee. Since graduating college, he has served as a Sous Chef (who serves just under the Executive Chef), and was promoted from Sous to Executive Chef. This promotion landed him in the spotlight of local media because he was the youngest Executive Chef of any fine dining restaurant in that area.

“I come from an Italian background on my mother’s side, and a farming background on my father’s side, so I have always been instilled with a deep appreciation for food, hard work, and sustainability” said Chef Blake.

He gives credit to his farming background for understanding the importance of supporting local farmers. “A big focus for me at WRMC is to utilize our local growers to provide our customers with natural, wholesome options, and, in doing so, support our region.”

Cave City Watermelon is currently available in Café V. He anticipates fresh cantaloupe will be available in the coming weeks.

In addition to adding more natural foods to the menu, Chef Blake is working to provide healthier substitutions to foods. He has started by reducing sodium by adding flavorful herbs and spices in place of salt.  The nutritional services staff will also be serving more fresh foods made from scratch and without gluten, as well as more grilled options.

Soon, nutritional services will be providing Room Service to inpatients throughout WRMC. This gives patients the options to call dietary and custom order a meal at any time between 6am and 6pm. There are options available for patients who may be on special diets recommended by their physicians.

In the future, Chef Blake also plans to partner with local culinary schools to provide an externship program for culinary students.

“Chef Blake is very eager and has many great plans that will benefit not only our facility, but our entire community,” said Bebow. “We are excited to welcome him to our team.”

He currently resides in Batesville. “I visited Batesville and the surrounding areas about six months ago and was absolutely blown away by all it has to offer,” he said. “Since moving here, I have developed many local connections. For example, I have been rock climbing at the Crag in Jamestown and will be helping the owners with their big event on October 11th. I hope to draw attention of the community to great local business owners and events such as the Crag, which support healthy and active life styles that promote exercise and nutritionally balanced eating habits.”

To find out what will be offered at Café V, a daily automated menu can be heard at (870) 262-3287. Café V is open to any and all visitors with seating inside and outside. The area also houses a Mama DeLuca’s Pizza, Morningside Coffeehouse, and Subway.