A fun Q&A with some of the state’s up-and-coming chefs as well as culinary superstars.
Photography by Janet Warlick
Dr. Glenn R. Mack
Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food / Northwest Arkansas Community College
Are you a formally trained chef or an on-the-job-trained cook? Both. I grew up cooking for family and friends and changed to food after an international career in journalism
Where were you trained? Texas Culinary Academy, Austin, Texas; Shaanxi New East Cuisine Institute, Xi’an, China; and People’s Hospitality University, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
What or who inspired you to become a chef/cook? My Norwegian grandmother was a domestic servant in New York City as a new immigrant 100 years ago. She was a tremendous cook and hostess.
What was the first item or meal you prepared? Baked Alaska when I was 10 years old. What else does a kid want to eat except ice cream?
What is your favorite meal to prepare? Ravioli and dumplings. There is something sublime and restorative about wrapping a filling of pumpkin, cheese or spiced meat in a tender swatch of dough.
What is your favorite meal? Sushi — simple and unadorned.
What is your favorite meal to eat out? Carne asada or al pastor tacos at a local taqueria with the family.
What is your favorite junk food? Sesame sticks — they’re high in salt, carbs and fat, none of
which I need, but I can’t stay away.
What is your favorite type of cuisine? Southeast Asian, with its emphasis on vegetables, flavor and simplicity of presentation.
What is your favorite utensil, gadget or piece of equipment? the Big Green Egg smoker and grill for vegetables, barbeque and flatbreads.
Where do you find new recipes? Ideas for new recipes? I continually read and interact daily with chefs and farmers. What I need is time to cook and perfect the meals that I create.
For whom would you most like to prepare a meal? Anyone who has traveled widely and appreciates the history and culture of food.
Music or silence? Silence. I’m an introvert at heart and love the quiet moments. I left the noisy world of journalism for the solace of my home kitchen.
Salty or sweet? Salty. The combinations of flavors and textures are limitless.
Bake or nah? I love flatbreads and samosas, baked savory pastries, which I learned to make in tandoor ovens in Central Asia. I’m not at all talented with baking cakes, desserts or pastries.
Beer, wine or cocktail? I’ve lately been swayed by the craft cocktail movement and its talent; but I’m old-school in my preference for red Bordeaux wine or a vodka martini, shaken.