be sure to vote for your choice for the people’s choice 2018 (see below)
Arkansas is filled with amazing food, great food traditions and talented people who lovingly prepare all that food for the rest of us. The Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, created and managed by the Department of Arkansas Heritage, is the perfect place to honor the unique foods, legendary restaurants, remarkable cooks and influential food entrepreneurs and culturally significant food-focused festivals and events of Arkansas.
Rex Nelson and Paul Austin, discuss the 2017 inductees and the process of selecting those to be considered.
Tuesday, March 6 the 2nd class of distinguished winners will be inducted into the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame at Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock. A 5:30 business casual reception with hors d’oeuvres and librations will precede the induction ceremony at 6:15 p.m.
If you are a foodie, food writer or you just eat food, this is a not-to-be-missed celebration. Tickets are $20 with payment by check or cash at the door. However, you must RSVP by February 26 if you plan to attend. You may do that by calling or emailing Shelby Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-324-9349.
Will one or more of your favorites prevail in the voting this year? These are the categories being considered and the finalists for each:
Arkansas Food Hall of Fame
A nomination period was open to the public but is now closed. Final selection was by a blue-ribbon panel of judges selected by the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Committee.
Admittance into the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame will be a true recognition of those long-standing restaurants that have also become legendary attractions in Authentic Arkansas. These are the places with the dishes we crave and return to time and again. Eligible restaurants must be owned and operated in Arkansas and have been in business for at least 25 years; national chain restaurants need not apply. Each year, three honorees will be inducted.
2018 Finalists: Tell us in the comments who you think should win this award.
Finalist: Franke’s Cafeteria, Little Rock
Finalist: Feltner’s Whatta-Burger, Russellville
Finalist: Doe’s Eat Place, Little Rock
Finalist: Dixie Pig, Blytheville
Finalist: McClard’s Bar-B-Q, Hot Springs
Finalist: Kream Kastle Drive-In, Blytheville
Finalist: Bruno’s Little Italy, Little Rock
Finalist: White House Cafe, Camden
Finalist: Ed Walker’s Drive-In, Fort Smith
Finalist: Neal’s Cafe, Springdale
Finalist: DeVito’s, Eureka Springs
Finalist: The Venesian Inn, Tonitown
Proprietor of the Year: Who will win?
Nominations from the public are welcome each year. Final selection will be by a panel of judges selected by the committee. This award is to be presented annually, and is designed to honor a chef, cook and/or restaurant owner in Arkansas who has made significant achievements in the food industry. To be eligible, the candidate’s restaurant must be owned in Arkansas and have been in operation in the state for at least one year. Again, national chains are not eligible.
Finalist: Matthew McClure, Bentonville
Finalist: Mary Beth Ringgold, Little Rock
Finalist: Capi Peck, Little Rock
Finalist: Scott McGehee, Little Rock
As with the other categories, public nominations are encouraged. Final selection of the honoree will be made by a jury chosen by the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Committee. This annual award was developed to honor one of the many community food-themed events or festivals that make our state a great place to live. These events attract tourists and neighbors alike and serve up as much fun and hospitality as they do their signature foods. To be eligible, the event/festival must be held annually in Arkansas, and it must have been in existence for five years or more.
2018 Finalists: What’s your favorite food-themed event in arkansas? tell us in the comments.
Finalist: Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival, Warren
Finalist: Hope Watermelon Festival
Finalist: International Greek Food Festival, Little Rock
Finalist: Gillett Coon Supper
Finalist: World Championship Duck Gumbo Cookoff, Stuttgart
Gone But Not Forgotten
The Gone But Not Forgotten category honors the collective culinary legacy of a once-and-always influential Arkansas restaurant that has since ceased operations. The reason for the closure is not important. It is the influence that the food – and/or those who prepared it – still have on other restaurants that matters. Take a fond trip down memory lane to nominate an old favorite.
Finalist: Jacques and Suzanne, Little Rock
Finalist: Klappenbach Bakery, Fordyce
Finalist: Coy’s Steaks and Seafood, Hot Springs
Finalist: Cotham’s Mercantile, Scott
Do you have a favorite restaurant that no longer exists? Tell us in the comments.
This tasty award is truly in the hands of Arkansans and lives up to our state motto: Regnat Populus (The People Rule). Individuals may submit their favorite Arkansas restaurant or food truck, and the people will determine the winner. To be eligible, nominees must be Arkansas-owned and operated and have been in business for at least one year. National chains, again, are not considered.
You many also tell us your choice in the comments if you prefer.
Photos courtesy Arkansas Heritage Commission and Arkansas Food Hall of Fame