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“Elevating and supporting culinary talent and the food ecosystem is an ongoing effort to strengthen the region. Working with Chef Judy Tatios, a chef that has worked for years to hone her craft and culinary point of view, has been an honor and I’m excited to witness our culinary community embrace her success as part of a collective growth strategy.”

Daniel Hintz, CEO at Velocity Group

Title: Chef Judy Tatios

City: Springdale

Where did you grow up? How did you end up in Northwest Arkansas?

I was born and raised in Orange County, California. Both of my parents are from the Marshall Islands and they came to the United States to better their education and life. I came to Northwest Arkansas because we just couldn’t afford to live in Costa Mesa anymore.

How long have you worked in the culinary field?

I have worked in the field for a little over 10 years and I love everything about it i.e. the science, the collaborations and relationships that food creates.

What advice would you have for someone thinking about relocating here?

I have been telling my family back home in California that this is the best move I’ve made and if they are still looking to move away for a better life and stability they should definitely come here. You just need to come out and see it for yourself.

Someone that has never been to the region is coming for 24 hours, what should they do, where should they go?

Go to as many of the small local restaurants and food trucks as you can. A few of my favorites are Yeyo’s, Blu Fresh Fish Market, The Odd Soul and Levi’s Gastrolounge & Bar. Check out all of the most popular hiking trails like Devil’s Den, and go to the Mount Sequoyah Cross Overlook in Fayetteville.

Source: Brightwater NWA
Source: Brightwater NWA
What advice would you have for someone thinking about relocating here?

I have been telling my family back home in California that this is the best move I’ve made and if they are still looking to move away for a better life and stability they should definitely come here. You just need to come out and see it for yourself.

Someone that has never been to the region is coming for 24 hours, what should they do, where should they go?

Go to as many of the small local restaurants and food trucks as you can. A few of my favorites are Yeyo’s, Blu Fresh Fish Market, The Odd Soul and Levi’s Gastrolounge & Bar. Check out all of the most popular hiking trails like Devil’s Den, and go to the Mount Sequoyah Cross Overlook in Fayetteville.

Describe NW Arkansas in Four Words

The land of opportunities.

Chef Judy Tatios
Source: Brightwater NWA
Where do you like to spend your time in the region?

I spend most of my time with family and friends in Springdale, but the Bentonville area reminds me so much of home.

What causes are you passionate about?

I enjoy volunteering with the Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese (ACOM). In November of 2020, we helped give out 300 turkeys to the community for Thanksgiving. I am also working with ACOM and the Marshallese ENRÃ Food Pantry on an online cooking class series.

What about the region inspires you? What is your hope for the future of the region?

I love how caring the community outside of the Marshallese circle is towards my people. Everyone works to help one another, which is so heartwarming.

I hope more young minds of the Marshallese community can get into the culinary side of things. I hope they become the new leaders, that they take advantage of the many opportunities that exist for our community and step up for our people. We need the young minds of our generation to keep this fire going.

Source: Brightwater NWA
Source: Brightwater NWA
What about the region inspires you? What is your hope for the future of the region?

I love how caring the community outside of the Marshallese circle is towards my people. Everyone works to help one another and that is so heartwarming.

I hope more young minds of the Marshallese community can get into the culinary side of things. I hope they become the new leaders, that they take advantage of the many opportunities that exist for our community and step up for our people. We need the young minds of our generation to keep this fire going.

Source: Brightwater NWA
What are some things you are working on?

I recently worked on a dinner drive through event for The Jones Center campus redesign featuring a fusion of Marshallese and High South cuisine in collaboration with Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food. It was an amazing event and we were able to distribute 300 free dinners to local community. I am also working on getting the first Marshallese food trailer up and running, which I hope will inspire other young entrepreneurs in the region.

When you think of Marshallese cuisine, what comes to mind? 

The natural flavors like the coconut, breadfruit, and pandanus off the trees, the seafood from the sea, the salty water from the sea.

My favorite is the breadfruit (ma). It pairs well with fish and can be eaten as a snack if you dip it in oil and salt.

What is one dish you would like to introduce to the region?

The dish I would love to introduce to the region is called “Tu & Bobo”. It is a traditional Marshallese dish that comes with two skewers of gizzard and turkey served with rice balls. The rice is cooked in water, sugar and coconut milk—and then rolled into a ball with freshly ground coconut flakes.

As a kid, I recall always seeing this dish at community gatherings. I have my own version of the dish that my family and friends love, but instead of the way most Marshallese prepare it, I use a braising technique that tenderizes the meat, which is typically tough to chew. I pair it with my own version of rice balls that is a bit different than the normal recipe. I would love to share it with the community of Northwest Arkansas.

What is something that we might be surprised to know about you?

You might be surprised to know that I am in a band called Exit 71 and that I have a great time even when I am not around food!

Source: Brightwater NWA
Source: Brightwater NWA
What is one dish you would like to introduce to the region?

The dish I would love to introduce to the region is called “Tu & Bobo”. It is a traditional Marshallese dish that comes with two skewers of gizzard and turkey served with rice balls. The rice is cooked in water, sugar and coconut milk—and then rolled into a ball with freshly ground coconut flakes.

As a kid, I recall always seeing this dish at community gatherings. I have my own version of the dish that my family and friends love, but instead of the way most Marshallese prepare it, I use a braising technique that tenderizes the meat, which is typically tough to chew. I pair it with my own version of rice balls that is a bit different than the normal recipe. I would love to share it with the community of Northwest Arkansas.

What is something that we might be surprised to know about you?

You might be surprised to know that I am in a band called Exit 71 and that I have a great time even when I am not around food!

Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food provides world-class training for individuals, students and professionals at any point on their journey into the world of food. If you would like to learn more about the culinary school Chef Judy has been collaborating with, visit below.

Brightwater NWA

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