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Associate of Applied Science in Food Studies

Smiling Chefs

Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food was conceived to be more than a typical cooking school. As an an academic division of NorthWest Arkansas Community College, Brightwater offers uniquely holistic programming with academic and career training. In addition to artisanal food, culinary arts, pastry and baking, and beverage management, we offer activities with a focus on culinary nutrition, food waste reduction, and food security. Special classes in applied farming, seasonal cooking, and the art of fermentation are among the many one-of-a-kind classes that can be found at Brightwater.

We provide world-class training for individuals, students, and professionals at any point on their journey into the world of food.

Brightwater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the American Culinary Federation. Brightwater breaks the mold by focusing on the larger food system, culinary skills, wellness, and strengthening local food networks to change the paradigm of culinary education. Assembling a core group of chef instructors and culinary masters, the program teaches and inspires students, industry professionals, and the general public in an innovative educational setting.

Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food approaches food as art, food as wellness, and food as business to offer an entirely unique approach to the culinary arts. Our goal is to develop leaders who combine culinary skills with the ability to recognize and address complex food issues.

Culinary Arts

Brightwater's Culinary Arts program develops our students to be professional culinarians, while inspiring them to think about food in an exploratory way. Each student will be immersed in the culinary world by experiencing every aspect of the food system from crop to cuisine. They will have the opportunity to go beyond the classroom by engaging with chefs, farmers, and other food entrepreneurs working in various positions within the local community. By valuing an inquiry-based learning approach, our instructors will not only help our students to master specific culinary techniques, but will also challenge them to apply those skills in their own innovative way. Brightwater strives to encourage our students to be influencers in society by seeing food as a more than just food, but as a connector to culture, art, the environment and our own.


Brightwater's Baking and Pastry program gives our students the foundation they need to build their careers confidently. With a focus on old world methods and techniques, our classes will enrich our baking and pastry students with a respect for taking the time to craft with excellence. Understanding that baking and pastry is both an art and a science, our instructors will emphasize precision along with creativity. Our state of the art equipment, such as a 50 lb. grain mill, chocolate tempering machine, industrial ice cream maker, and four steam-injected deck ovens, will give Brightwater students the ability to recognize what "from scratch" truly means. Whether the goal is patisserie, baking, cake decorating, or confectionaries, Brightwater strives to develop students that are passionate about the artisanal process of their profession.


Brightwater's Beverage Management program will engage our students in all facets of the beverage world. Upon completion, each will have an in-depth understanding of where various drinks come from, how they are produced, and what they taste like. Through continually tasting, they will learn deductive methods to be able to evaluate a beverage's characteristics, quality, and commercial value at a professional level. Surrounded by passionate culinarians at Brightwater, they will be exposed directly to the gastronomic world during their training and will have a significant and tangible comprehension of how to pair certain beverages with certain foods. In addition, each student will gain the practical knowledge needed to manage a profitable bar or beverage operation. Brightwater desires to develop students to be expert analysts in wine, beer, and spirits allowing each to influence the culinary world to appreciate the art of quality beverage making.


Brightwater's Artisanal Foods program was created to revitalize the significance of authentic craftsmanship. Sadly, within the food industry today the word artisan has lost almost all of its meaning, but fortunately, with our experiential-learning approach, Brightwater will help fully immerse our students in their artistry. By spending time in the garden, students will learn the value of crafting their victuals with quality, seasonal ingredients. Taking a true "farm-to-table" perspective back to the kitchen, our students will be empowered to create exceptional food. Our passionate and extensively trained instructors will guide our students to be masters of small-batch specializations. They will gain a historical, scientific, and technical understanding in how to fashion each product successfully. It is Brightwater's goal for its artisanal foods students to impact the industry by reviving the lost crafts in culinary arts.


Format and Locations

Courses offered within Food Studies are available in-person at Brightwater, A Center for the Study of Food, at 801 SE 8th Street, Bentonville, AR. 

For more information on the Food Studies program and enrollment, contact Brightwater@nwacc.edu.

801 SE 8th St
Bentonville, Arkansas 72712

© 2017 BRIGHTWATER: A Center for The Study of Food, a division of NorthWest Arkansas Community College