KUAF Arts Beat: Food Takes Center Stage at Roots Festival

Mar 22, 2019

First night of the Roots Festival at Pratt Place in Fayetteville.
Credit Courtesy, Paul K. Logsdon

For millenia food has seen dramatic shifts from cultivation to preparation. Because food and eating are intertwined in the human experience, it only makes sense that it travels from our plate to our art. 

This year the Fayetteville Roots Festival focused more intently on food, with added culinary-centered events and chefs getting equal billing as performers. 

Brightwater, a culinary branch of Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, is emerging as a hub for gastronomic innovation.  During the festival, the school hosted a dozen local, national and international guest chefs for the Roots Festival's Master Class Series. 

Chef and instructor Roman Davis says the attention on food adds a level of engagement that other arts and music festivals in the area miss. 

"People will travel much further and stay longer for really good food," he says. "We Northwest Arkansans will have access to some of the country's, and other countries', most amazing chefs."

Chef and owner of Bentonville's Tusk and Trotter Rob Nelson is teaching a class with visiting Russian chef Anton Abrezov. The two demonstrated how to use an entire hog in cooking, weaving in sustainaiblity- a theme that runs through the entire Roots Festival. 

Nelson demonstrates how to utilize an entire pig in his Master Class session.
Credit Brightwater NWA

"You cannot even imagine how much cool stuff you can do with... pig's blood," Abrezov explains. "Pork blood-brioche, panckaes and meringue." 

This kind of creativity is what all the chefs hope this festival and the school can bring to the area. For these chefs the future of Arkansas cuisine is only getting brighter. 

Listen to the entire feature in the streaming link above and share this story online with #ArtsBeatKUAF.