Arkansas Fresh Bakery plans to start chocolate line; plus possible collaboration with Jonathan Wilkins | Rock Candy

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Arkansas Fresh Bakery plans to start chocolate line; plus possible collaboration with Jonathan Wilkins

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 1:59 PM

click to enlarge BREAD AND CHOCOLATE: Arkansas Fresh looks to expand to bonbons.
  • BREAD AND CHOCOLATE: Arkansas Fresh looks to expand to bonbons.

Terrific news for the sweet-toothed among us: Ashton Woodward, the baking wizard behind Arkansas Fresh Bakery, plans to start an Arkansas Fresh chocolate line featuring handmade traditional Belgian-style chocolates. Foodies know Woodward as the man behind the best breads and buns in town, featured at restaurants like Big Orange, Boscos, The Pantry, 1620 Savoy and many others. Now he's ready to apply his artisinal care to chocolate. 

"I worked for a couple years in Chicago doing handmade bonbons," Woodward said. "Nobody [locally] has come close to the quality of work that I learned in Chicago and that I intend to replicate. It’s a big deal for the bakery because it’s an expansion of an already good product line."  

One likely project is a partnership with Rock Town Distillery, with a line of chocolates using its liquors. "Some of my favorite pieces I learned to bake in Chicago use liquor, and I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from traditional cocktails," Woodward said. Rock Town might sell the chocolates through their own retail space and might also look to distribute through liquor stores they sell to. The symbiotic relationship for the two local companies wouldn't just be cross-promotion — it would also give Woodward a chance to affordably use high-quality liquors, a rare luxury for a chocolatier.  

In addition to that partnership, Woodward is hoping to release a larger Arkansas Fresh chocolate line — eventually he'd like to offer a half-pound box of assorted chocolates. In addition to the liquor-filled chocolates, Woodward said he plans to develop a large variety in the Belgian style. "They use a lot of really bold flavors, a lot of nut flavors," he said. "But  anything that goes with chocolate is fair game. We did a chili pepper and cinnamon piece in Chicago. I would of course draw from as many local inspirations as possible — like this deal with Rock Town, that’s a great starting point." 

Woodward is hoping to have both his own line and the Rock Town line ready by the holiday season. Like the bakery, he'd probably start selling the chocolates wholesale but with an eye toward retail sales down the road. The chocolate shop will be in the same space as his bakery in Bryant, and Woodward envisions eventually selling both fresh bread and chocolates retail in the front of the shop.

Can't wait! In the mean time, what about those of us looking to get ahold of Woodward's baked goods directly? Basically, as detailed in our cover story on Woodward a year ago, if you've bitten into some transformatively delicious bread in a restaurant in Arkansas, there's a good chance it came from Arkansas Fresh. Naturally, fans of, say, Woodward's brioche-challah buns want them at home too. Arkansas Fresh was selling retail out of Argenta Market but now that they're closed, Arkansas Fresh addicts will have to rely on the Argenta Farmers Market for their fix. 

On that front, one more piece of good news: plans are in the works for a Farmers Market partnership with Jonathan Wilkins, who until last summer was making transcendent bar food (featuring Arkansas Fresh buns) at Whitewater Tavern. Wilkins, who has been putting in some time at the bakery, will likely be contributing to the Arkansas Fresh farmers market stall. "He brings a lot of skills to the table," Woodward said. Details are still being hammered out — Wilkins might offer pickles or other cottage-industry prepared foods, farm-raised eggs, or perhaps hot food eventually. 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sign up for the Daily Update email


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

  • DHS continues to reimburse Medicaid managed care company co-owned by Preferred Family Healthcare

    The Department of Human Services continues to use a provider-led Medicaid managed care company that is part-owned by Preferred Family Healthcare, despite a recent decision to cut other ties with the Springfield, Mo.-based nonprofit enmeshed in multiple corruption scandals.
    • Jul 13, 2018
  • State yanks PFH funds

    Another former executive with scandal-plagued mental health provider arrested.
    • Jul 5, 2018
  • Robin Raveendran and Person 9 in the Cranford/Preferred Family Healthcare web

    The federal criminal information released as part of former lobbyist Rusty Cranford's June 7 guilty plea on bribery charges describes a Person 9 who worked for the nonprofit healthcare provider Preferred Family Healthcare and was associated with Cranford. The description of Person 9 appears to match Robin Raveendran, the former PFH executive — and former longtime staffer at the state's Department of Human Services — who was arrested Thursday in a separate case, charged in Independence County with two felony counts of Medicaid fraud after an investigation by the state's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
    • Jun 29, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Coming Monday: Little Rock Black Restaurant Week

    MoTown Monday is Ceci's Chicken and Waffles. Tasty Tuesday is Sims BBQ and Brewster's Soul Food Cafe. Wing Wednesday is Chicken King and Chicken Wangs. Soul Food Thursday is Lindsey's BBQ and Hospitality House and Food Truck Festival Friday is @station801. It's the first Black Restaurant Week.
    • Mar 8, 2017
  • New music from Isaac Alexander

    New music from Isaac Alexander.
    • Jul 14, 2017
  • No Small Talk Ep. 8: Katy Henriksen, Springs Arts preview

    A packed episode this week of "No Small Talk": a chat with Katy Henriksen, from Of Note on KUAF; Stephanie Smittle breaks down the Spring Arts issue; and we finish up with just a tiny bit of Oscar chatter.
    • Mar 9, 2018

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation