A fun Q&A with some of the state’s up-and-coming chefs as well as culinary superstars.
Photography by Janet Warlick
ROB NELSON (Online Exclusive)
Tusk & Trotter American Brasserie / Bentonville
Are you a formally trained chef or an on-the-job-trained cook? I am a formally trained chef.
Where were you trained? I studied in Boulder, Colo. and in the south of France.
How many years have you worked in the food industry? About 16 years.
What or who inspired you to become a chef/cook? The summers I spent at my grandparents’ house. They had a nice-size garden and apple and pecan trees. I can still smell my grandma’s kitchen!
What was the first item or meal you prepared? A ribeye.
What is your favorite meal to prepare? Smoked pork belly.
What is your favorite meal? My grandma’s fried chicken.
What is your favorite to eat out? Gusano’s Pizza, because I have a 6 year old named Emma and that is her go-to spot.
What is your favorite junk food? Maple nut goodies.
What is your favorite type of cuisine? Southern; there is just so much diversity from subregion to subregion here in the South.
What is your favorite utensil, gadget or piece of equipment? A strong wooden spoon.
Where do you find new recipes? I like to find new menu ideas from the areas around me first. I also have the opportunity to travel a few times a year, and I always come back pumped up about something I ate.
For whom would you most like to prepare a meal? The person I would like to cook a meal for would be my late brother. He was always a big support to me, and it would be cool to see him one more time.
Music or silence? There is most definitely music in my kitchen!
Salty or sweet? I prefer salty to sweet.
Bake or nah? I do enjoy baking, especially breads.
Beer, wine or cocktail? Give details. I love a great beer, like Tank 7. But sometimes a Woodford on the rocks is the way to go.
Do you cook at home? My wife Sarah does most of the cooking at home. She is awesome!
What food or meal do you wish you’d invented? I wish I invented cassoulet. It is so good!
What food trends do you like or hate the most? The food trend I never really got behind was sous vide [cooking food in sealed, airtight plastic bags that are placed in water or steamed]. If you have fire and a skillet that is pretty much all you need.