Walking through the Southern Food & Beverage Museum is like strolling through the collective memory of every Southern grandmother. The exhibits were colorful and cluttered, some even looked homemade, but all had the whimsy to pull off their quirkiness.
Edith pretended to chomp every last food display and could have played with the vintage kitchen gadgets for hours. Visitors of all ages can explore culinary traditions from all across the South, but the greatest value from SoFAB may not be what you learn from it, but the memories that it triggers: The best barbecue you ever had and the friends you were with when you had it; helping your mom beat the eggs to make cup cakes; the random kitchen tool your grandmother won’t throw away because “they just don’t make them like they used to.”
As Edith’s eyes grew with wonder over each new contraption, I couldn’t help but fantasize about walking through with my mother and late grandmother. My grandmother wasn’t southern, but she would have loved SoFAB and the memories it preserves.
Last month, Poppy Tooker, host of public radio’s Louisiana Eats!, in partnership with French Market Coffee, started a celebrity dinner series benefiting SoFAB. For $85 guests enjoyed dinner and a show: a three-course meal with wine pairings and cooking demonstration by Brennan’s Chef Slade Rushing.
The food itself was as excellent as one would expect from the James Beard nominated chef, and guests left with recipes and the know-how to recreate each dish at home (but you can get the food any day of the year at the Brennan’s restaurant). The Louisiana Eats! & French Market Coffee Celebrity Dinner Series puts guests in the kitchen with the chef for cooking tips, stories behind the preparation, and good company. My grandmother was a huge fan of Emeril Live; she would have loved it.
The next dinner, featuring Chef Chris Montero of Napoleon House, is at 6:30pm on Thursday, March 23 at the Rouse’s Culinary Innovation Center by Jenn-Air at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Tickets are $85 for three-courses, wine-pairings (with generous pours, I might add…), and gifts from French Market Coffee. Purchase your tickets here.