Beard Foundation reps WOW-ed at Crystal Bridges event

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 146 views 

BENTONVILLE — For the most recent of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s Wednesdays Over Water (WOW) events, executive chef Jacob Harr borrowed a philosophy of culinary great James Beard: “Too few people understand a really good sandwich.”

Everyone seemed to nod in agreement, particularly a distant disciple of Beard’s, Kristopher Moon, director of charitable giving for the James Beard Foundation. Moon and another colleague from the foundation will be here through Saturday. They came to be WOW-ed, hang out with Daniel Hintz and others with Downtown Bentonville Inc. and to tour several of the area’s new high-end restaurants, such as Rob Nelson’s Tusk & Trotter American Brasserie.

Nelson was the first in the area to become involved in the inaugural Serving Up James Beard, a promotion to celebrate the foundation’s 25th anniversary. Participating restaurants across the country are serving specialty dishes for a limited time and giving $1-per-dish to the foundation for scholarships. The promotion runs through Labor Day weekend.

It’s this kind of collaboration that is furthering an interest of food as culture, Moon said. Nelson hosted a private dinner for for the Beard folks and about two dozen others at Tusk & Trotter on Thursday night (Aug. 23).

“There’s something really cool going on in Bentonville,” Moon said.

"All of us that are in the business, [we know] what the James Beard Foundation is about," said Case Dighero, culinary directory of Crystal Bridges. "The fact that they're here and they're interested in what we're doing, and they're going to be a part of what we're doing, speaks volumes about the talent that we have here."

Guests entering the WOW event were given the choice of red wine or an Ozark Bramble, made with orange marmalade, fresh blackberries, club soda, bitters and bourbon from Arkansas’ own Rock Town Distillery, the first legal distillery in Arkansas since prohibition.

To eat, guests made their own open-faced sandwiches from gourmet ingredients served on a pedestal topped with a slice of tree. Bamboo cutlery and plates tool took the plates of the regular throw-aways. The communal setting — where everyone at each table shared in the goodies — “that’s really what good food is all about … sharing it,” said Harr.