Nominations open for 2024 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame

Mike Mills (left), cabinet secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, presents an Arkansas Food Hall of Fame award to Jerri Todd, co-owner of the Ozark Cafe in Jasper, during a ceremony held at the Ron Robinson Theater in downtown Little Rock on March 6, 2023. (Courtesy/Arkansas Heritage)

Nominations for the next round of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame are open through the end of February.

Now in its eighth year, the Arkansas Heritage program was created to celebrate the state’s unique culinary heritage. It recognizes Arkansas restaurants, proprietors, food-themed events, and influential businesses that are no longer in operation.

“Everyone has a story to tell about food,” said Marty Ryall, director of the Division of Arkansas Heritage. “In Arkansas, food is at the heart of our heritage. Whether it’s a meal prepared at home with family or a special dining experience, Arkansas’ food stories run deep.”

Public nominations are accepted each year, while official finalists and winners are made by a panel of judges made up of historians, chefs, foodies and food authors.

Last year’s Hall of Fame winners were Ozark Cafe of Jasper, Bulldog Restaurant of Bald Knob and Kream Kastle of Blytheville.

Nominees are accepted in the following categories:

  • Arkansas Food Hall of Fame – Recognizes long-standing restaurants that have become legendary
  • Proprietor of the Year – Honors a chef, cook, or restaurant owner with significant impact on the food industry
  • Food-Themed Event – Honors a community food-themed event or festival
  • Gone But Not Forgotten – Remembers past establishments
  • People’s Choice – Restaurants or food trucks, new or old

Other 2023 category winners were Jamie McAfee of the Pine Bluff Country Club (Proprietor of the Year), Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Coof-Off (Food-Themed Events), Bohemia Restaurant of Garland County (Gone But Not Forgotten) and Community Bakery in Little Rock (People’s Choice).

The selection committee includes Ryall, Paul S. Austin, C.C. “Chip” Culpepper, Quantia “Key” Fletcher, Cindy Grisham, Montine McNulty, Rex Nelson, Tim Nutt, Kat Robinson, Stephanie Wade, David Ware and Stanley Young. The committee this year added Chef Jennifer Maune as its newest member. Maune was a finalist in the 13th season of “MasterChef” and is a Better Homes and Gardens Stylemaker.

Finalists will be announced in May and honorees will be inducted in September.