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Local flavors

Rowe cooks up career as one of Ozarks’ culinary experts by Marc Hayot | November 25, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.
Erin Rowe sits atop a classic car at Simple Pleasures in Bella Vista. When she's not commenting on the cuisine in the Ozarks, Rowe enjoys rock climbing, flying and going to festivals in Northwest Arkansas. Recently, she skydived for the first time. (Courtesy photo)

  

“An Ozark Culinary History: Northwest Arkansas Traditions from Corn Dodgers to Squirrel Meatloaf” considers the history of Ozark Cuisine and was written by Erin Rowe in 2016.

(Courtesy image)

 
 

“An Ozark Culinary History: Northwest Arkansas Traditions from Corn Dodgers to Squirrel Meatloaf” considers the history of Ozark Cuisine and was written by Erin Rowe in 2016.

(Courtesy image)

 

“An Ozark Culinary History: Northwest Arkansas Traditions from Corn Dodgers to Squirrel Meatloaf” considers the history of Ozark Cuisine and was written by Erin Rowe in 2016.

(Courtesy image)

  

“An Ozark Culinary History: Northwest Arkansas Traditions from Corn Dodgers to Squirrel Meatloaf” considers the history of Ozark Cuisine and was written by Erin Rowe in 2016.

(Courtesy image)

 
 

“An Ozark Culinary History: Northwest Arkansas Traditions from Corn Dodgers to Squirrel Meatloaf” considers the history of Ozark Cuisine and was written by Erin Rowe in 2016.

(Courtesy image)

   

“An Ozark Culinary History: Northwest Arkansas Traditions from Corn Dodgers to Squirrel Meatloaf” considers the history of Ozark Cuisine and was written by Erin Rowe in 2016.

(Courtesy image)

 

Siloam Springs native Erin Rowe had not planned on being an entrepreneur; she just loved to cook.

That passion led her to start conducting food tours, write a book on Ozark cuisine and become an editor for a Bella Vista magazine.

She also is a private chef, restaurant consultant and part-time writer.

Early dishes

Rowe's love of cooking began when she was 14 years old. A trip with her friends introduced her to new foods, she says.

"All the food we made on that trip was brand new to me, and I desired to cook after that and nabbed my first cookbook," Rowe says.

Rowe continued to develop her culinary skills as she grew up, she says. She enlisted in the Peace Corps after college and served from 2006-07 in Dominica and Saint Lucia. She spent time on Sifnos, an island that is a part of Greece, from 2008 to 2009.

She returned to the United States in 2009 and enrolled in the University of Hawaii Maui College's culinary arts program, she says. Rowe graduated in 2010, according to her Facebook profile.

Writing the book

Rowe was working in the gift shop of the Peel Mansion in Bentonville in 2014 when a publisher came in looking for a book about Ozark cuisine, she says. The gift shop did not have the book, but Rowe convinced the publisher to let her write one.

She released "An Ozark Culinary History" in 2017, providing a history of Northwest Arkansas cuisine and also some recipes for local dishes, she says.

"It's a story of the Ozarks," Rowe says.

The world of food

Rowe began working full time in the culinary world in 2016 as a private chef and a restaurant consultant, she says. She helped The Wooden Spoon add a to-go menu and added a menu to Airship Coffee. Rowe also created Savoy Tea Company's All-French Toast Menu.

She got the idea to do food tours in 2016 after experiencing one in Florida. She was working on her book at the time, but kept the idea in her head. Rowe started Ozark Culinary Tours three years later.

She conducts tours in Bentonville, Rogers and Siloam Springs, highlighting each town's culinary identity.

"Bentonville is polished; Rogers is more industrial; (and) Siloam Springs has this perfect 'Pollyanna' perfect downtown," she says.

Tours are conducted at different restaurants in those cities, Rowe says. As an example, Rowe says the Siloam Springs tour consists of visiting 28 Springs, Fratelli's Wood Fired Pizzeria, Tintos and Tapas, Creekside Taproom and topping the tour off at Pure Joy Ice Cream.

Side jobs

Rowe began writing for Inside Bella Vista magazine in 2018. She became the magazine's food editor two years later.

She joined childhood friend Kamaron Rackleff to host "Get to Know Siloam Springs" this year where Rackleff and Rowe visit businesses in Siloam Springs and interview the owners.

The owners talk about the history of the businesses, and, if the business is a restaurant, serve sample dishes to the duo.

"She is such a blessing to everyone she comes in contact with," Rackleff says. "Once she puts her mind to something, you know it is going to be creative, and that she is going to give it her very best."

"An Ozark Culinary History: Northwest Arkansas Traditions from Corn Dodgers to Squirrel Meatloaf" considers the history of Ozark Cuisine and was written by Erin Rowe in 2016.

(Courtesy image)
"An Ozark Culinary History: Northwest Arkansas Traditions from Corn Dodgers to Squirrel Meatloaf" considers the history of Ozark Cuisine and was written by Erin Rowe in 2016. (Courtesy image)

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