Executive Chef Donnie Ferneau is a critically acclaimed and nationally recognized award-winning chef. This past fall he competed on the Food Network's Great American Food Truck Race. The ‘Southern Frenchie’ truck came in fourth, remaining in the competition until the Nashville round.
Ferneau got his start in culinary school at Kirkwood Culinary Academy (Iowa), then apprenticed under Philippe Forcioli, the former executive chef of the Orient Express. Donnie apprenticed throughout the Midwest and worked under several well-known chefs in Little Rock before venturing out on his own. Ferneau Restaurant was located in the Hillcrest neighborhood. Next, he jumped across the river to North Little Rock where he opened Good Food by Ferneau. Donnie used this venture to create healthy food options [and the best fried chicken in the city] for some of Arkansas’ largest corporations, medical facilities and health clubs. His objective was to promote healthy eating without sacrificing flavor or culinary creativity. Recently Donnie worked with The 1836 Club, as Executive Chef for the private club.
Donnie’s wall is full of awards. He has received the Formica and Ben E. Keith Culinary Community Service Award, Adjunct Teacher of the Year at Pulaski Tech, Chef of the Year for The American Culinary Federation, Diamond Chef Arkansas, Best Chef in Arkansas and recently was named to Best Chefs in America, Southern Region. Donnie has also had the pleasure of cooking for some of America’s most influential celebrities including, President Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg, among many others. Three years in a row Donnie was extended the invitation to cook for the Nations Democratic Governors at “Taste of the Nation.” In October of 2015, Donnie competed and was featured in the Food Network’s show, BBQ Blitz. He has also been featured in national cook books and magazines.
As impressive as his resume is, Donnie cooks on all burners outside of the kitchen as well. He is involved with many local charities and is especially passionate about causes that benefit children, including Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. He marched Capitol Hill to fight for breakfast in the classrooms in Arkansas and rode 300 miles on a road bike to help raise money for hungry children across America.
Recently, Donnie worked with Memory Care America helping to utilize food as medicine for Alzheimer’s patients throughout the country. He has been assisting in a groundbreaking medical research that can help stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. In October 2015, Donnie has twice been invited as the Guest Celebrity Chef to Eva Longoria’s Celebrity Gala and Poker Tournament, benefiting Eva’s Heroes Foundation for children and young adults with mental disabilities.
Exciting news for foodies: this year, in collaboration with Kelli Marks, Ferneau is opening a brunch themed eatery called Cathead’s Diner in the Paint Factory building of the East Village area. Ferneau also sells his own Signature Blend of spices called Ferneau Seasonings.
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