Brightwater approaches food as art, food as wellness, and food as business to offer
an entirely unique approach to the culinary arts. At the core of Brightwater's programs, you are equipped with artisanal cooking methods as well as an understanding of food's
impact on culture, economy and wellness. As a Brightwater student, you are encouraged
to experience food in a whole new way, activating flavors and crafting dishes that
are local, refined and innovative. Learn how to traverse the journey of food in a
way that best suits your interests, talents and goals, from mastering the art of confections
to whole-animal butchery.
As a department of NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC), Brightwater is America's
first regional cooking school. Its focus is hyper-localized and holistic, traversing
the entire food experience from crop to cuisine. Infused with artisanal methods like
butchery and distillery, Brightwater's programming offers education and experience
previously only acquired through apprenticeship. It is the first culinary school to
integrate a food-systems approach and inquiry-based learning to cooking, local farming,
sustainability, and community development. Brightwater offers students a dynamic educational
experience in its programs by delivering a combination of technical skills, broad
industry knowledge, and specialty cultural exposure.
Food as Business
Brightwater is a hub of food activity, events, and business for Northwest Arkansas.
Part of Brightwater's mission is to serve and strengthen the community. The school
aims to accomplish this by developing future culinarians, fostering business connections,
offering community classes, and by being a leading voice in trends affecting the food
Brightwater uniquely engages the community with accessible programming and ongoing
local food experiences. The school also directly employs the region's abundant local
foods with hands-on teaching that focuses on seasonality and preservation techniques
such as smoking, brining or curing. While restaurants are a common job destination,
students are encouraged to consider additional avenues such as food science, marketing,
creative arts, nutrition and craft and artisanal production.
Food entrepreneurs, like all business people, need access to continuous learning materials,
meaningful working connections within a purpose-driven peer community that is focused
on growing their expertise, their businesses and the quality of their offerings, and
true mentors who are able to share their insights to accelerate the progress of their
mentees. Brightwater is focused on delivering these critical resources to culinarians
and food entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship provides basic business planning for the culinary entrepreneur to
support those interested in pursuing a practical application of food-based business
without taking a full schedule of business and entrepreneur courses. Students are
coming to culinary school with an interest in starting their own businesses. The new
food culture and the Cottage Food Act of 2010 provides additional opportunities for
food entrepreneurism. Artisanal skills such as cheese making, artisanal bread baking,
charcuterie, fermentation, curing, and canning are at the forefront of the new food
The supermarket has become the last stop in an increasingly complex global food system,
spurring a growing movement to re-regionalize the food system. As a Brightwater student,
you'll examine economic, social, demographic, environmental and ethical issues that
currently shape our systems of food production, distribution and consumption. This
includes learning how food is grown, processed, transported and distributed, and reviewing
policies that shape how those foods are consumed.
You'll also explore how animals and plants are raised for food, as well as how food
labels and food claims are made on packages and in advertising. Trace a variety of
food products and take an in-depth look at environmental impacts, animal welfare,
human health and labor practices that make up the food system, and learn to pay attention
to the effects of international trade and immigration policies and explore the concept
of food sovereignty in the United States and around the world.
>Brightwater provides learning opportunities for professional culinarians and the
general public. From enthusiast courses to custom-designed training for chefs, companies
and personnel, Brightwater has the facility and professional staff to help you reach
your goals. The school offers ideation sessions, corporate team building activities
and dinners, and leading edge exposure to the newest equipment, ingredients and techniques.
Brightwater also has five kitchens, six classrooms, and a butchery and demonstration
theater that can be rented for private events, parties, and training.
Food as Wellness
Brightwater is the first department of a community college to offer a systems-based
approach to culinary training. Wellness encompasses sustainable farming practices,
healthy community relationships, and the well-being of individuals through local food.
To that end, Brightwater promotes a variety of activities and courses of study in
culinary nutrition, applied farming, seasonal cooking and whole-animal butchery. Wellness
involves daily practice and understanding the culinarian's impact on the food system,
not merely adhering to a prescriptive checklist of "dos and don'ts".
Brightwater approaches food as medicine, starting with the basic principles of nutrition,
including their application to food preparation, menu planning and a healthy lifestyle.
Brightwater provides training for culinary and nursing students, the general public
and medical professionals. The key to training is a hands-on discovery of nutritional
science through the daily preparation, tasting and analysis of dishes. Brightwater
provides students with a knowledge base of diet, lifestyle, nutrition and how they
relate to well-being and disease. All degree-seeking students are required to take
culinary nutrition. Brightwater also offers nutritional training to the public as
part of community engagement and outreach. Finally, continuing medical education (CME)
is available to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals following a similar
interactive and participatory approach.
Attention is also given to providing nutritionally-balanced and attractive meals.
Menu planning using sound nutritional guidelines is stressed. The concept of creating
menus while focusing on food allergies, intolerances, preferences and restrictions
is also introduced. Brightwater employs a food-first perspective with an eye toward
the practical aspects of what customers and patients face day-to-day when trying to
make substantive change in their lives. The focus is on teaching about food: how to
cook, what to eat, and how to help people improve diets and thereby, health.
Brightwater has partnered with local farms to have a greenhouse on our campus. Through
this collaboration, students are able to see the value of their finished product,
from seed to plate and from seed to community. Brightwater's goal is to grow you into
a mindful chef that recognizes ingredients based on seasonality and geographic region.
Throughout your time at Brightwater, you will continually interact with the school
garden, giving you a holistic perspective on food.
As a Brightwater student, you will learn about seasonality through hands-on work at
the Brightwater garden and greenhouse as well as visits to farms from small, diversified
operations to large scale. The horticulture program and gardens on the main campus
of NWACC provide additional opportunities for vegetable and fruit exploration. You'll
learn about soil health and its connection to growing food. You'll get your hands
dirty helping in the on-campus garden and heated greenhouse, enabling season extension
opportunities for a year-round field-to-plate curriculum. There are also plans to
add hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics systems for use in Bentonville.
Northwest Arkansas enjoys four mild seasons throughout the year, providing a tremendous
opportunity for multiple growing seasons. The emphasis on food and farming include
an applied farming class through farm and garden partners and a seasonal cooking class
utilizing fresh produce. Hoop houses and a heated greenhouse allow for growing product
beyond the traditional seasons.
Brightwater is committed to training students and the community to reduce food waste
and recover edible food. The school embraces a holistic approach to food waste. Brightwater
does not simply focus on reducing food waste numerically, but also on educating to
create a culture of respect and care. In the kitchen, instructors teach awareness
of how each ingredient can be used in its totality. Prepared foods will be donated
to local charities. You will learn new techniques to incorporate each part of the
ingredient into your dish, an unusable scraps are used for Brightwater's on-site garden's