By Deanna McGill | Photography by Rett Peek | Shot on location at Sauced Bar and Oven
Trace Munday credits his love of food and culinary arts to his father, who introduced Trace to restaurants throughout the country. Many featured intriguing menus with new exciting flavors and open dining areas where he could see and feel the hum and buzz of the kitchen. These experiences created a lasting impression on Trace. Since he was seventeen, Trace has worked kitchens across the South, now planting roots at Sauced Bar and Oven where he serves as the executive chef.
“I have the best of both worlds,” Trace explains about his childhood. While his father exposed him to the finer elements of the restaurant world, “my mother taught me the how-to in the kitchen as an act of love.” He may have a distinguished palate and access to finer ingredients, but Trace still enjoys a home-cooked meal. Trace admits, “That is why my favorite food is still my mom’s tuna casserole…and Foie Gras.”
Despite his leadership role, Trace works wherever he is needed: washing dishes, clearing tables or cooking on the line. This kind of teamwork is critical to ensure Sauce(d) runs like a well-oiled machine, but it’s a perspective that Trace adopted after a tenure in the industry . He remembers “I was an egotistical, loud, big-headed chef and had reached the end of my rope as an alcoholic.” However, that all changed in 2013 when Trace committed to a life of sobriety. With the support of his wife, and the constant reminder of his mantra to “Stay Humble,” Trace continues to evolve as a chef and a community servant. He utilizes his professional stature at various events throughout Central Arkansas. He hopes to shine the spotlight on incredible organizations like Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families and its impact – working with legislators, coalitions and policy researchers on behalf of Arkansans who don’t have a strong voice in the public arena, specifically children who live in poverty.
“I heard about Soup Sunday when I was at Samantha’s Tap Room. I didn’t get to go, but was intrigued especially since I am a sauce and soup guy,” explains Trace. Years later the opportunity presented itself again. As last year’s fan favorite, Trace received the Golden Ladle for his now famous carrot lavender soup and is ready to compete again with a winning recipe in his pocket. “Passions are high and the chefs are creatively searching for different soup recipes so they can take home the trophy,” states Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families Development Director Fran Carter.
The event features more than 30 restaurants serving soup, bread and dessert as well as complimentary beer and wine. Festivities also include live and silent auctions, a kid activity area and DJ for plenty of dancing. Proceeds support the mission fulfillment work of AACF. Fran explains, “We don’t receive state or federal funding. With the support of our donors we can speak for the needs of children and impact policies that help them lead healthy productive lives.” The organization also works to educate all Arkansans through advocacy trainings, candidate forums and policy events in communities throughout the state.
Fran highlights one every timely example of this advocacy work: AACF’s participation in a coalition to ensure all children are counted in the 2020 census. Arkansas receives an estimated $10 billion in federal funding annually with distribution guidelines derived from census data. Just one Arkansan not counted in 2020 could result in a loss of $33,000 over a decade. Children under the age of 5 years old are one of the hardest-to-count populations in the census, according to Fran, and the 2010 census missed more than 6,500 kids in Arkansas.
Get the best of both worlds at Soup Sunday later this month. Bring a muffin-tin (a tried-and-true, veteran trick to hold all the tasty goodness), eat soup (lots of it) and help AACF create a better Arkansas for children and families.