A Center for the Study of Food

Our Purpose

Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food approaches food as art, food as wellness, and food as business to offer an entirely unique approach to the culinary arts. Our goal is to develop leaders who combine culinary skills with the ability to recognize and address complex food issues.

In addition to artisanal food, culinary arts, pastry and baking, and beverage management, we offer courses with a focus on culinary nutrition, food waste reduction, and food security.

Special classes in applied farming, seasonal cooking, and the art of fermentation are among the many one-of-a-kind classes that can be found at Brightwater.

Simply put, our goal is to provide world-class training for individuals, students, and professionals at any point on their journey into the world of food



We are many communities in one. We are an academic and educational community that engages teachers, practitioners, experts and students. We are an open community for anyone interested in the experience of food. Our community has a sense of place. It is rooted in a particular area, region and country. We contribute to the cultural life of the community where we live. In return, it contributes to our institution by engaging with us and supporting our work.


We believe in a ‘smart food’ approach to culinary practices and enterprises. This means that we create programming and use teaching methods that have the fundamental objective of responsible use and stewardship of the land, ingredients and food sources. In order to achieve this we teach food systems and services, an understanding of many agricultural methods and a transparent inquiry into food production. By doing so, we provide students with critical thinking skills to balance the economic, agricultural and industrial implications in both the short and long term. We are looking for options that are more than sustainable. They are responsible. Farm to table? Perhaps. Crop to cuisine? Yes.


There are many educational alternatives today that provide cultural learning and career training. However there are few that provide real value in the way that we do. Without ever sacrificing educational experience, quality of programming or real skill development, our institute remains accessible. Value is determined on an axis of what you get versus what it costs. We are committed to being a learning resource that offers notable value and prestigious programming at once.


Our approach to the culinary arts, cuisine and food is rooted in artisanal practice. We teach crafts that have-historically-only been taught through long apprenticeship with rare masters. We bring these artisans and craftsmen into the classroom for hands-on teaching in practices such as butchering, brewing, preserving, baking, and more. We find our way to the art of food through these artisanal methods.


We offer a totally immersive experience into the entire culture of food. Our offerings are robust and diverse. They are rooted in history and tradition, the most current and relevant expertise, modern service and experience, and just emerging trend lines and technologies. We dive deeply into our local agriculture and regional offerings to develop tools and an understanding of food that has global applications. We believe that foodways provide a rich and human understanding of any culture.


State of the Art Facilities

Brightwater is housed in a new facility located on 8th Street in Bentonville. Our state-of-the-art facilities were built thanks to a generous grant by the Walton Family Foundation.

801 S.E. 8th Street was originally the site of a Krispy Kitchens manufacturing plant. The space was later purchased by Tyson and served as a fried chicken facility for 33 years before closing in 2005. Now, after 12 years of disuse, Brightwater is giving the land new life, a further extension of our mission to revitalize our community.

The new center occupies 27,500 square feet within a larger building surrounded by third-party food-related businesses. Having so much culinary talent under one roof can only intensify the creativity and learning opportunities for the community. The concept is inspired by public markets such as Mercato Centrale in Florence, Italy, with food retail shops, dining stalls and trucks, and other entertainment options.


Facility Highlights

  • Demonstration Kitchen
  • Culinary Kitchen
  • Pastry Kitchen
  • 5 Kitchen Laboratories
  • 6 Classrooms
  • Seasonal Kitchen
  • Production Kitchen
  • Commons
  • Beverage classroom
  • Library/Information Commons
  • 2500 Square Foot Greenhouse
  • Outdoor Garden

Brightwater facilities may be rented for special occasions. Please call for details.

Call 479-631-8600 for Event Rentals

8th Street Market

The 8th Street Market will use food and local farming as a core experience in creating a regional hub and incubator for culinary talent, ideas, and networks. The Market encompasses approximately 10 acres along 8th Street within the Bentonville Market District in a completely refurbished food processing facility. The space allows for a modern exchange of food, farm, culture, and community, offering visitors unique experiences to share meals, explore ideas, and better connect.

It’s an entirely new concept for the area that will help Northwest Arkansas continue to grow the region’s reputation as a food hub of the Upper South.

By sharing the 8th Street Market with food artisans, Brightwater has a special kitchen dedicated to butchery and charcuterie, a temperature- and humidity-controlled pastry kitchen, equipment to make artisan breads, the latest tools for modernist techniques, and a range of supplies for food preservation. Virtually everything located within 8th Street Market has a synergistic connection to food and hospitality in Northwest Arkansas, and likewise to the Brightwater program.


Dr. Glenn R. Mack

Dr. Mack is an educator, author, cook, and researcher. Originally trained as a Sovietologist, Glenn covered the Soviet Union as a photo editor for seven years in Moscow and New York with Time Magazine. After the fall of the USSR, he spent a year on the Silk Road in Central Asia studying the culinary culture and history of the region. Dr. Mack trained in the culinary arts in China, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and the United States. Before joining NWACC, Glenn served as President and Vice President of Academic Affairs with Le Cordon Bleu in the United States. Before that, he was owner and founder a culinary school in Austin, Texas. He currently serves as Chair of the board of directors at the International Association of Culinary Professionals and also as a board member of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. His research centers on culinary culture and history, student learning outcomes, and educational assessment. Glenn has degrees from Columbia University, The University of Texas at Austin, and Nova Southeastern.

Dr. Glenn R. Mack

Michael Kuefner

Chef Michael Kuefner is the lead culinary instructor for the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management program at NWACC. Chef Kuefner is a Certified Chef from the culinary school in Tettnang, Germany and a Certified Charcutier from the culinary school Biberach, Germany. Chef Michael has intensive training in French and Mediterranean cuisine. His extensive travel all over Europe, Egypt and serving in the German Navy exposed him to a great variety of cuisines and techniques. Chef Kuefner has a degree in Food Science & Nutrition from the University of Applied Science Sigmaringen, Germany. He did research in food microbiology and worked as research assistant at the University of Sigmaringen and the University of Arkansas. Chef Michael Kuefner has over 25 years of experience in the Hospitality & Culinary industry. Working with students is his passion and he is always eager to learn more about this exciting field.

Michael Kuefner

Lauren Altimont

Lauren, Student Advisor and Adjunct Instructor, has had a variety of unique experiences relating to the food world. Because of her passion for discovery, during her time in college at the University of Arkansas, Lauren immersed herself in many distinctive learning opportunities. Lauren completed her internship in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she worked on a restaurant development project. She also studied sustainable food systems and culinary arts in Tuscany and volunteered as a hunger relief coordinator at Cobblestone Farms. Furthermore, after graduating with a degree in Restaurant Management and Hospitality Innovation focusing in global studies, Lauren jumped into another learn-by-doing experience by working as a winery cellar intern during harvest season in Sonoma. She sees food and wine as a connector to all people, cultures, and environments, which has given her a passion to continue studying culinary arts in a variety of settings.

Lauren Altimont

Vince Pianalto

Chef Pianalto, pastry and baking instructor, is a native to Northwest Arkansas. With over 30 years of experience in the foodservice industry, he has owned and operated restaurants and bakeries in the area ranging from Italian cuisine to European style pastries and breads. During a break from being a restaurateur, he became an accredited culinary teacher for Springdale Public Schools before joining the NWACC team. Vince has had training at Cordon Bleu—Chicago, baking and chocolate training in Seattle with the lead baking chef for the U.S. Baking team, as well as experience as an owner/operator of restaurants. Expanding food knowledge to students and the general public has been a focus for Chef Pianalto throughout his career.

Vince Pianalto

Phil Dreshfield

Phil Dreshfield is a chef instructor with an expertise in artisan breads and entrepreneurship. After receiving an MBA in Marketing from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, his professional career was launched by accepting a position as a market development manager with Vie de France, a company that was paramount in introducing the bakery/café concept to the American mainstream. Over the next three decades, that path would take him from the chef/owner of a popular restaurant in the Washington DC suburbs to an extensive and diverse career in the food industry that included experience in restaurant management, food sales and marketing as well as food research. He has owned and operated artisan bakeries in Kansas City and in Springfield, Missouri. For the last 12 years, Phil has been teaching culinary arts and hospitality management at the post-secondary level in Missouri and has been the ProStart Coordinator, working with the Missouri Department of Education and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to redefine hospitality education for high school students across that state.

Phil Dreshfield

Jason Paul Rothstein

Jason’s interest in food began when he was 13 years old, watching PBS cooking shows on TV. He started tinkering around at home, and then at age 14, by chance, found his way into a five star, fine dining restaurant kitchen called Mary Elaine's. Jason began to work for free on weekends and eventually most days after high school. He learned a ton and they didn't mind the free labor. This began a journey to become the best cook he could. Throughout the years since then, Jason has worked in many different areas of foodservice. Jason is also the chef and owner of Heirloom, a boutique, fine dining restaurant in Northwest Arkansas. These days, he most enjoys cooking vegetables and has a deep passion for creativity, hospitality, and food education.

Jason Paul Rothstein

A Special Thanks to Our Partners

Special thanks to the following contributors, partners, and individuals, without whom, Brightwater would not have been possible.