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

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Community

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.

Responsibility

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.

Value

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.

Craft

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.

Culture

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.

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Savory Tart Powdered Sugar Cookies Roasted Nuts And White Rice Apples On A Cloth Stacked Cheese Wheels

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.

Student Commons AreaBrightwater Commons Lobby
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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.

X Dr. Glenn Mack, Executive Director

Dr. Glenn Mack, Executive Director

An Arkansas native, Dr. Glenn R. Mack currently serves as Executive Director of Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food at NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, Arkansas. With extensive international experience in journalism and culinary arts, he worked and studied in the former Soviet Union, China, and Europe. He's a thought leader and inspirational advocate for career and technical education and has administered culinary colleges in Austin, Singapore, Miami, and Atlanta. He currently serves on the board for the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the Arkansas Association of Career and Technical Education, and The Culinary Trust.

His career achievements include publication of several books and articles, implementing the first Spanish-language culinary program in the United States, and achieving operational excellence at culinary colleges. His life-long passions for noodles, student engagement, smoked fish, sauna, and organizational development fill his time. He holds degrees from Columbia University, Nova Southeastern, and The University of Texas. He is also is classically trained in the culinary arts in China, Italy, Russia, Uzbekistan, and the US.

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Dr. Glenn Mack, Executive Director
Dr. Glenn Mack, Executive Director
X Tim Rose, Business Operations Manager

Tim Rose, Business Operations Manager

Tim Rose, an Arkansas native and the Brightwater Business Office Manager, is a retired Strategic Intelligence officer with over 28 years serving our nation in various combat, command, and staff positions. He served at the highest levels of the intelligence community and various intelligence organizations. He also led numerous sensitive programs directly impacting our national security. Tim’s unique military career and world travels allowed him to experience different cultures gaining an appreciation for the food system, feeding the hungry, and disaster relief. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance/Insurance, Master of Art in Public Administration, and a Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence. He closed out his military career being hand selected to manage a diverse intelligence portfolio on the Secretary of Defense’s staff for the Undersecretary of Defense (Intelligence). After leaving Washington DC and moving home to Arkansas, Tim accepted the position as the Business Office Manager for Brightwater where he is responsible for overseeing high school relations, budgeting/purchasing, and day to day business operations.

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Tim Rose, Business Operations Manager
Tim Rose, Business Operations Manager
X Jessie Wagner, Business Development Manager

Jessie Wagner, Business Development Manager

Jessie Wagner, Business Development Manager, moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2012 after obtaining her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Management degrees at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Jessie has a passion for discovery which has led to her spending a summer on a Byzantine archaeological excavation in Sicily and two years working for the National Park Service in the remote New Mexican high desert. Jessie was drawn into non-profit development after discovering a knack for writing grants and a deep fascination with creating and sustaining community partnerships. The study of food has long been a passion for Jessie and she is delighted to be engaged in Brightwater’s efforts to elevate the entire food system of Northwest Arkansas. Jessie also teaches yoga and spends the vast majority of her free time attempting to maintain her urban farm in downtown Bentonville.

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Jessie Wagner, Business Development Manager
Jessie Wagner, Business Development Manager
X Mark Holaway, Purchasing and Facilities Manager

Mark Holaway, Purchasing and Facilities Manager

Mark Holaway is a renaissance man of the very best kind: lover of all things soul-filling, decadent, artful, and celebratory. Mark feels as strongly about a fresh papusa, tacos and a cold beer at a taqueria as he does fine wine and pork belly at a white tablecloth restaurant– good food made with a lot of soul is his greatest passion.

As a child, Mark’s love for food began in his family’s garden. They grew and canned food, raised and processed meat, and sold any abundance at the local farmer’s market. This provided a foundational understanding that great foods start with fresh, high quality ingredients. After struggling to source high quality, nutritious and humanely raised meats in the area, Mark started raising his own animals that quickly expanded into a full-time job. In 2000, Mark started the first pasture-based farm in NWA that sold poultry, beef, pork, and lamb at the Fayetteville Farmers Market.
Mark spent twenty years in emergency management, and retired from the fire service as a Captain in 2016. While training rookie firemen, Mark states his first lesson was that all great firemen start in the kitchen. Meals bring firehouses together and feed hard work and the experience of creating a meal together was one he encouraged all to participate in with heart.

After exploring Brightwater, Mark stumbled in to an opportunity to create a new career focused on his greatest strengths: experience and understanding of sourcing local foods, nutrition, farming, learning, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and community. Mark oversees purchasing and facilities.

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Mark Holaway, Purchasing and Facilities Manager
Mark Holaway, Purchasing and Facilities Manager
X Meghan Brossman, Marketing Specialist

Meghan Brossman, Marketing Specialist

Meghan Brossman’s enthusiasm for food began in her hometown of Joplin, Missouri. She began waiting tables and working on the line at a farm-to-table restaurant while attending college, and there began to understand the importance of where our food comes from. This new-found knowledge ignited her obsession for local and organic food.
When the restaurant closed in 2015, Meghan began working the cash register at a small health food store and eventually became their Marketing and Social Media manager. She also launched a recipe development & small-scale catering company with one of her closest friends in an effort to make healthy and local food approachable and accessible in Southwest Missouri. This career path brought she and her husband to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2015. She started work at Blackboard Grocery & Eatery as the Brand & Content manager until 2018, when she began working at Brightwater.

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Meghan Brossman, Marketing Specialist
Meghan Brossman, Marketing Specialist
X Erika Garcia, Student Advisor

Erika Garcia, Student Advisor

Erika Garcia, Student Advisor: Erika Garcia, Academic Advisor, comes from a family of butchers. Even though she has not acquired the skill herself, she understands the importance of such a skill. Her grandmother, father, and uncles learned from her paternal-grandfather who was a second-generation butcher. In Mexico, her father’s family ran a family-owned butcher shop, inculcating the art of whole-animal butchery. She sees this family skill with such pride, as it is an area that not many seek. Serving Brightwater, will be an honor for her as it will help the community and students to acquire unique skills as such.
Erika graduated from Northwest Arkansas Community College with an Associate of Arts. She later transferred to the University of Arkansas, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. Her major was Spanish-Education with a minored in Latin American and Latino Studies. Currently, she is a graduate student at John Brown University where she will be receiving a Master of Arts in Higher Education.

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Erika Garcia, Student Advisor
Erika Garcia, Student Advisor
X Julie Wahl, Administrative Assistant

Julie Wahl, Administrative Assistant

Julie Wahl, Administrative Assistant, moved to Northwest Arkansas from Northern California five years ago. She is a culinary school graduate with nearly twenty years of experience in the food industry in retail and commercial kitchens, most recently as a baker/cheese buyer for Ozark Natural Foods. She is also a producer and host for a weekly community radio show with a focus on the local culinary culture, food history and food songs. She is passionate about anything food-related and is a self-proclaimed “food nerd”.

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Julie Wahl, Administrative Assistant
Julie Wahl, Administrative Assistant
X Vince Pianalto, Instructor

Vince Pianalto, Instructor

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.

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Vince Pianalto, Instructor
Vince Pianalto, Instructor
X Phil Dreshfield, Instructor

Phil Dreshfield, Instructor

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.

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Phil Dreshfield, Instructor
Phil Dreshfield, Instructor
X Brittany Eddelbuttel, Instructor

Brittany Eddelbuttel, Instructor

Brittany was born and raised in New South Wales, Australia. She received her Associate of Applied Science at NWACC majoring in culinary arts, baking and hospitality. Brittany is a member of the Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals. As a Certified Dietary Manager & Certified Food Protection Professional (CDM®, CFPP®), Brittany is an expert at managing food service operations and ensuring food safety. Brittany is passionate about human nutrition and education and is currently enrolled in Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas seeking a bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Hospitality Innovation with the concentration of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Brittany Eddelbuttel, Instructor
Brittany Eddelbuttel, Instructor
X Kim Arnao, Instructor

Kim Arnao, Instructor

Kim Arnao, Adjunct Professor: In high school, Kim did her senior thesis on the book The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, never realizing that a couple decades later she’d come full circle. She graduated from Pace School of Law, specializing in environmental law and spent 15 years practicing environmental law for the Air Force (active duty) then the FAA (civilian). When an opportunity brought her family to Bentonville, Kim decided to go back to school and get a Masters in Food and Agricultural law at the University of Arkansas Law School, specializing in Sustainability. Family food issues created a passion for understanding and impacting the food system.

Kim spent four years as a Senior Director at Walmart, gaining understanding of the food retail system, but when Brightwater opened, she saw an avenue to advocate for change on the front lines, instilling that same passion in budding culinary professionals. She teaches the Food Systems class, is currently supporting the development and expansion of a Food Recovery program at Brightwater, and has bought a farm where her family is working with U of A to remediate chicken house land by planting an orchard, small vineyard, and wildflowers, all to promote honey bees. Living the dream!!!

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Kim Arnao, Instructor
Kim Arnao, Instructor
X Erin Szopiak, MS., RD., LD., Instructor

Erin Szopiak, MS., RD., LD., Instructor

Erin, Chef Instructor at Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, is both a chef and a registered dietitian. Erin’s career journey began with her undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. As Erin pursued her nutrition studies and worked towards completing her dietetic internship, she became increasingly interested in study of food itself. She wanted to grasp an understanding of the nutrients found in foods and their role in the body while also exploring the social, cultural, and creative aspects of food. She began culinary education and training as part of her master level coursework. After many years in school and working as a registered dietitian in a variety of settings, Erin went to work under a James Beard award winning chef and several other brilliant chefs in the St. Louis area. Erin’s work ethic, curiosity, and love for learning in those bustling kitchens helped her develop the skills need to be a chef. Since entering the culinary world, Erin has found a love for exploring a variety of cuisines from around the world, and developed a soft spot for baking and pastry. Her passion for nutrition and public health has not been forgotten. Becoming a chef has only strengthened her desire to bring culinary arts and the science of nutrition more into alignment.

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Erin Szopiak, MS., RD., LD., Instructor
Erin Szopiak, MS., RD., LD., Instructor
X Nelson Brown

Nelson Brown, Lab Technician

Nelson Brown began his journey into the world of food at a Fayetteville, AR French Bakery. After becoming the Bakeries “Bread Guy” and novice food-nerd he traversed through local restaurants as a Baker, Prep cook, and finally as a Pastry Chef. After six years of life in the kitchen Nelson enrolled in the Food Science department at the University of Arkansas where he worked in food safety, meat science, and protein chemistry labs. After completing his degree he worked as a Food Microbiologist before joining the commercial food production world as a food safety Specialist. During this time he gained experience working in both USDA and FDA regulated industries managing food safety programs for Deli/RTE Meats, Further processed poultry, Animal Slaughter, and Baking Facilities. Nelson is passionate about all aspects of food production and hopes to bring his enthusiasm and scope to the students and community of Brightwater.

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Nelson Brown
Nelson Brown, Lab Technician
X Violet Westrick

Violet Westrick, Accountant

Violet Westrick is Brightwater’s Finance Coordinator. She’s a graduate from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville. Violet earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Accounting and minor in Enterprise Resource Planning. She is a lifelong resident of Northwest Arkansas. Violet loves traveling, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

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Violet Westrick
Violet Westrick, Accountant
X Warren Woodbury

Warren Woodbury, Instructor

Chef Warren has worked in the food & beverage industry for over three decades. Raised in the Midwest, he came to the Arkansas Ozarks as a teenager and began his culinary career at a resort retirement community as a line cook, quickly moving through the ranks to become Banquet Chef, Sous Chef and Executive Chef. This pattern continued through the years as he worked in hotels, fine dining restaurants and country clubs, later moving into corporate dining, campus dining, healthcare dining, senior living dining and running his own catering business. Chef Warren holds a Hotel & Restaurant Management degree from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, became a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation and is a Certified Dietary Manager and Certified Food Protection Professional as well as a certified SerfSafe instructor and proctor.

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Warren Woodbury
Warren Woodbury, Instructor
X Crescent Dragonwagon

Crescent Dragonwagon, Instructor

Crescent Dragonwagon teaches culinary writing and explores food as culture, at Brightwater. The James Beard Award-winning author of seven cookbooks, she’s been “writing the world through food” for decades. Her culinary writing encompasses memoir (Passionate Vegetarian: with Notes on Cooking, Eating, Living & Loving Fearlessly), history/myth (The Cornbread Gospels), family and community (Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread, which sold 425,000 copies). Her first play, “Until Just Moistened: A One-Woman Show, with Crumbs,” incorporates food, memoir, history, and music, and was recently accepted by the Arkansas New Play Festival. She’s also written numerous children's books (including a Coretta Scott King Award-winner and a Reading Rainbow selection), two novels, a book of poetry, and dozens of magazine articles. She's appeared on Good Morning America, Today, CNN, and TVFN; NPR listeners know her from Michael Feldman's "Whaddya Know?" and Lynn Rosetto Kasper's "The Splendid Table." She’s been featured in O, the Oprah Magazine.

A performer, public speaker, and workshop leader, she frequently gives keynotes pertaining to change, creativity, meaning-making, narrative, vision, purpose, and goofiness. She developed the Fearless Writing ™ technique, which she’s taught around the world, and created the widely acclaimed Widowhood Wednesday posts. A former innkeeper/restaurateur and an improv student, she divides her time between Arkansas, Vermont, and New York.

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Crescent Dragonwagon
Crescent Dragonwagon, Instructor
X Adam Simmons

Adam Simmons, Instructor

Adam Simmons grew up in a restaurant family in Eastern Arkansas. He chose to attend the University of Arkansas to further his education. Working in the family’s restaurant in Eureka Springs throughout college, he decided to continue his education at the Culinary Institute of America. Through college, he staged at Le Cirque in NYC and worked for a catering company in northern New Jersey. His internship was under Chef George Mahaffey at the Little Nell in Aspen, Co and upon completion he finished his studies at the CIA. After graduation he went directly back to Aspen and continued the majority of his fine dining career there. Adam took a job in Alaska to help open an adventure lodge called Lodge at Whale Pass. After a season in Alaska he decided to devote his talents to teaching, child nutrition and the farm-to-consumer movement. He was an adjunct professor for 5 years before coming a full time instructor the fall of 2017. He is committed to educate his students on the importance of locality, seasonality and the importance of a classical culinary education.

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Adam Simmons
Adam Simmons, Instructor
X Rainy Bray

Rainy Bray, Instructor

Rainy Bray is an Authorized Specialty Coffee Association Trainer (AST). Rainy grew up in Northwest Arkansas and currently lives in Bentonville. She instructs the Specialty Coffee courses here at Brightwater. In 2017, she received her license as an AST and has taught for the Specialty Coffee Association since 2016. She has a deep love for the people of the coffee industry. In addition to teaching at national Coffee Expos, she enjoys attending other industry events. She became a certified circuit judge for the United States Barista Championship circuit at a USBC qualifying event in 2018. Rainy also conducts the education program for Airship Coffee, a locally based company, and works there as a barista in her spare time.

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Rainy Bray
Rainy Bray, Instructor

A Special Thanks to Our Partners

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