Chef Travis McConnell realized that the lure of the kitchen was the direction he wanted to take while working at Tsunami restaurant in Memphis, TN. The next step was culinary school and stints in kitchens of Philadelphia, Portland, OR, the Four Seasons Hotel, Jackson Hole and the Capital Hotel in Little Rock. It was with the opening team here that he realized his appreciation for crafted foods and seasonal approaches.
He then moved with his wife to California to work with Boccalone salumeria. It was here that he was highly influenced in the craft of curing meats and all things Italian. He next moved across the bay to join the opening team of Revival Bar + Kitchen. Revival is a kitchen that sources locally and seasonally with a focus on fresh California cuisine.
After years in California he made his way back to Arkansas where after some time in Little Rock he and his family joined the great culinary culture and community of Bentonville. He joined the butcher & pint group to work with their butcher shop and restaurant. After a couple of years, the lure of the hospitality group, Ropeswing drew him in. The Ropeswing group currently has four restaurants under its wing. Travis had the opportunity to become executive chef with the first of those, Pressroom. He has been with the group and Pressroom for over a year now. This position and group have solidified his roots in the Northwest Arkansas community.
Rye bucatini & duck Italian sausage
English sweet peas, spring onions, bread crumb, Grana Padano
The Rye bucatini is a mixture of semolina and fresh ground rye berries. We use an extruder machine to create the shape. The pasta is created fresh multiple times weekly to create this dish.
The duck sausage is butchered from whole ducks and we add pork fatback to give it the extra level of richness needed for a well-made sausage. We have converted our pork Italian sausage spice mixture over to duck which comes together really nice with the fresh pasta.
To order we blanch the pasta and sauté the spring onions, peas and sausage until the onions are cooked but still maintain a cook onion crunch. We add some duck stock and butter along with the pasta to create the pan sauce. The seaonsing is a hit of kosher salt and lemon juice.
The finished dish has garlicky bread crumb, Grana Padano and extra virgin olive oil added.