Local Chef Is A Semifinalist For ‘Best Chef In The South’ Award

BENTONVILLE (KFSM)– A Bentonville chef is one of 20 semifinalists for a James Beard Award. The award is something many consider the Oscars of the food world.

Matthew McClure is the executive chef for The Hive located at 21C just off the Bentonville Square.

This is his fifth year to make it this far in the competition. He said he hopes to hear if he won or not around mid-March.

“It puts the cooking at The Hive that we’re doing up on a national level… I think it elevates the whole community. It’s good for Bentonville, (and) it’s good for Arkansas,” McClure said.

He said chefs in Arkansas haven’t had a lot of spotlight in media.

Regardless if he wins or doesn’t, McClure said he’ll continue cooking at The Hive. He said he’ll focus on training the next generations of chefs in the state and hosting fundraising dinners to help toward childhood hunger.

McClure said, with the help of others, he also wants to make Arkansas food just as well-known as anything else around the country.

Part of making that happen involves the culinary team working along side him in the kitchen at The Hive.

“They are going to go out and do their thing,” McClure said. “The next thing you know, we’re going to have multiple restaurants, not necessarily cooking the same dishes but having the same sort of philosophy in terms of utilizing local food which has to be the root of what Arkansas food is.”

McClure said being nominated for the James Beard award helps solidify what he is doing is being noticed on a national level.

“I’m incredibly proud to be cooking in my home state and be on that list,” McClure said. “To have a chef in Arkansas on that list is incredible. For me to be that chef is incredible.”

An Arkansan won a James Beard award in the American Classics category in 2012. That man was James Jones who owns Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna.