There is absolutely no better food in a concentrated area than what exists around the Bentonville Square in this state, and few areas in the entire south rival it. It is highlighted again this week as Chef Matt McClure of the Hive has received his third consecutive semifinalist placement for a prestigious James Beard award.
McClure, a Little Rock native, previously worked at Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel before opening the Hive inside the 21c Hotel in 2012. During his time in Bentonville McClure has racked up awards and nominations for his work at the Hive which, in his own words, seeks to be a reflection of the food identity of NWA.
McClure was named a semifinalist first in 2014 from the James Beard Foundation, whose mission is to “celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire”. The annual awards are the most highly recognized in the restaurant community and cover not only chefs regionally and nationally, but also restaurants, bar programs, as well as a dedicated award program for food media.
In the past two outings McClure has not made it beyond the semi-finalist round. “I certainly love being named every year, it brings great recognition, but yes I would love to win one someday soon,” McClure told us during a visit late last year. McClure has been up for a number of additional local and national awards, most recently winning Food and Wine’s Best New Chef in the Midwest in 2015. Finalists for the award will be announced on March 15 with winners announced on May 2nd.
Unfortunately McClure is Arkansas’ only entry into the Beard awards. Last year One-Eleven was named a semifinalist for best new restaurant along with McClure’s best chef nomination. Previously only Jones BBQ in Mariana has won a Beard award (food heritage). Chef Joël Antunes won a Beard award in 2005 as best chef in the Southeast under his restaurant Joël in Atlanta before joining One Eleven in 2013.