Arkansas Heritage’s 6th annual Arkansas Food Hall of Fame ceremony was held virtually and in person at Rob Robinson Theater in downtown Little Rock last night. Stacy Hurst, secretary of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, gave the opening remarks and then introduced Governor Asa Hutchinson who appeared in a pre-recorded video announcement, offering praise to the restaurant industry here in Arkansas. Hutchinson introduced local author and food historian Rex Nelson who hosted event, which lasted a little more than an hour.
Nominations were received from all 75 counties in the state.
“I gotta tell you, these last six years if they have shown us anything, they have shown us that the people of Arkansas love their local food establishments, they are an important part of our culture and they want to celebrate them and share them with Arkansas,” Nelson said.
Aside from the People’s Choice Award, winners were selected by a committee of Arkansans food authors, historians and chefs. In addition to Hurst, committee members include Paul S. Austin, Jimmy Bryant, Chip Culpepper, Quantia “Key” Fletcher, Cindy Grisham, Montine McNulty, Rex Nelson, Tim Nutt, Kat Robinson, Stephanie Wade, David Ware and Stanley Young.
Nelson said that almost half of the nominations received were in the People’s Choice category. To be eligible an establishment has to to be at least a year old and not be part of a chain. The 2022 winner La Casa De Mi Abuelita Maw Maw’s House food truck was nominated for the first time this year and is the first food truck to claim any this award or any award from the Hall of Fame, Nelson said.
There were 86 nominees for the Gone But Not Forgotten category, designed to “honor the collective culinary legacy of a once and always influential Arkansas restaurant that has since ceased operations.” The Food Hall of Fame Committee narrowed it down to five finalists.
Coy’s Steak House (Garland County)
Mrs. Miller’s Chicken and Steak House (Garland County)
The Villa Italian Restaurant
James at the Mill (Washington County)
The Food Themed Event must be held annually in Arkansas every year and must have a history dating back at least five years. There were 78 nominees in this category and three finalists selected.
Mt. Nebo Chicken Fry (Yell County)
Magnolia Blossom Festival & World Championship Steak Cook-Off (Columbia County)
World Championship Duck Gumbo Cook-Off (Arkansas County)
There were 433 nominations for the Proprietor of the Year category and the committee narrowed it down to six.
Jim Keet, JTJ Restaurants (Petit & Keet, Cypress Social, Taziki’s)
Jamie McAfee, Pine Bluff Country Club
Rob Nelson, Tusk & Trotter (Bentonville)
Capi Peck and Brent Peterson, Trios
David Stobaugh, Stoby’s (Conway)
James Woods, Wood’s Place (Camden)
The Hall of Fame class of 2022 had 15 Finalists and three were inducted. In order to be eligible, restaurants must be owned and operated in Arkansas, cannot be part of a chain and must have been in business for 25 years or more. There were more than 400 nominations.
Bailey’s Dairy Street (Hot Springs)
Bruno’s Little Italy
The Bulldog Restaurant (Bald Knob)
Colonial Steak House (Pine Bluff)
Dairy King (Portia)
Daisy Queen (Marshall)
Dixie Pig (Blytheville)
The Faded Rose
Herman’s Ribhouse (Fayetteville)
K. Hall & Sons Produce
Kream Kastle (Blytheville)
Lindsey’s Bar-B-Q & Hospitality House (North Little Rock)
Neal’s Cafe (Springdale)
The Ohio Club (Hot Springs)
Stoby’s Restaurant (Conway)
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