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A Must -Visit Museum For Southern Food & Beverage

For anyone curious about southern food and beverage culture, a visit to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (a.k.a. SoFAB) is a must-stop when you visit New Orleans. Located at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard, the museum is chock full of culinary culture and ephemera, ranging from the history of Popeye’s Fried Chicken and traditional New Orleans foods to the many foods, products and culinary curiosities native to each southern state. There is a demonstration kitchen; cooking classes and other educational programs are offered regularly. www.southernfood.org

Inside SOFAB. Museum hours are Thursday to Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

SoFAB also houses the Museum of American Cocktail (MOTAC), a fascinating history of America’s cocktail culture, and the John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library, containing over 11,000 volumes of culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets, archival documents and a growing number of important collections, other literature and ephemera, collected by and donated to SoFAB. It’s also home to the Nitty Grits Podcast Network, a selection of audio and video podcasts addressing food and drink topics.

The museum may appear small at first but, trust us when we tell you to take your time walking through the exhibits. There is much to digest, especially if you enjoy learning about the history of food and drink. The exhibits on New Orleans’ culinary history alone, ranging from the impact of Hurricane Katrina to the history of cooking with beans and a tribute to the late Leah Chase, offer much to reflect on.

Learn the history of New Orleans' famous Popeye's fried chicken and its dynamic founder, Al Copeland.
Learn the history of New Orleans’ famous Popeye’s fried chicken and its dynamic founder, Al Copeland.

Meet SoFAB’s Founder

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) was founded in 2004 by Elizabeth Williams, who wanted a place where the intersection between culture and food could be studied. The museum began with pop-up exhibits and was the first official exhibit for what is now the Museum of American Cocktail. Over time, individuals began donating family artifacts to the museum, requiring the need for more space. SoFAB has been at its current location since 2014.

Williams, who joined us as our guest on The Connected Table LIVE May 5th, was born and raised in New Orleans to a family with Sicilian heritage. She notes in her bio that she was “always fascinated by the way the lure of nutmeg and peppercorns motivated the exploration of the world.”

Elizabeth Williams, President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation
Elizabeth Williams, President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation

A lawyer by training, Williams has had a long career working with foundations and museums. She served as President & CEO of the University of New Orleans Foundation and UNO Research and Technology Foundation, Inc. working in foundation budget management and financing, development and fundraising and management for properties including UNO Studio Center, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the D-Day Museum, now the National World War II Museum.

Since 2004 she has served as founding President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation and established the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. She has researched and written on the subject of food policy and is coauthor with Stephanie Jane Carter of The Encyclopedia of Law and Food (Greenwood Publishing, 2011).

Over lunch at Café Reconcile, a nonprofit restaurant and hospitality training ground for at-risk youth ages 16 to 24, Williams shared some of her projects for the National Food & Beverage Foundation, which includes the cookbook library and culinary archives, the SoFAB Meat Lab, a state-of-the-art facility offering classes and demonstrations on everything meat-related, from butchering to grilling, and the Nitty Grits podcast studio and other programs around culinary history and education.

SoFAB’s repository library includes The John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library  which contains over 11,000 volumes of culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets, archival documents and a growing number of important collections, other literature and ephemera, collected by and donated to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum.  The collection is non-circulating but available for reference. The library also contains a collection of books written by members of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a nonprofit organization of leading women in food fine beverage and hospitality.

Williams is encyclopedic on food and drink culture, especially when it comes to New Orleans. Listen to our conversation on everything from Mississippi tamales and Alabama white sauce to New Orleans Krewe of Red Beans on this edition of The Connected Table. Click below or this link

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Southern Y’All-Tide Greetings with Virginia Willis- Dec. 23

Count on one hand the ambassadors of Southern Cuisine, and Award-winning writer, chef, TV personality, and cookbook author Virginia Willis will invariably own one of those five fingers.

Virginia Willis

Georgia-born and French-trained, Virginia has been the go-to expert for such chefs and lifestyle experts as Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, and Martha Stewart, and has appeared on numerous TV shows such as Food Network’s Chopped, Fox & Friends, and NBC’s The Today Show. She’s also cooked with culinary world Grand Dames Julia Child and Nathalie Dupree (who gave Virginia her first job). She’s cooked for President Bill Clinton and, who knows, maybe she’ll cook for the first women president next?

Virgina’s five cookbooks embrace the culinary spirit of the south from “having it ‘ya’ll” to a single subject book on Okra. Her books include “Bon Appétit, Y’all,” “Basic to Brilliant, Y’all,” and her latest, released in 2015, “Lighten Up, Y’all.”  as well as the aforementioned book “Okra” and another entitled “Grits.”

Virigina's newest book. Who says southern food has to be fattening? http://www.virginiawillis.com/cookbooks.html
Virigina’s newest book. Who says southern food has to be fattening?
IACP Cookbook Award Winner
IACP Cookbook Award Winner

 

She is also the blogger for Down-Home Comfort  for Food Network. Named by the Chicago Tribune as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know,” Virginia is also a contributing editor for Southern Living and writes for Eating Well, Fine Cooking, and countless other culinary publications.

Follow us on Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable
Follow us on Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable

Virginia joins us at The Connected Table LIVE!  Wednesday December 23, 2:25 pm EST to talk about her life in food and her special take on southern cuisine.

Y’All tune in now, Y’Hear?

VIRGINA IN FIELD
Virginia in living collards. Read more about Virginia on her website: www.virginiawillis.com
Connect with Virginia:
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In the Land of Cocktails with Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin

If you have tuned into our iHeart Radio show, The Connected Table LIVE!, you know that we love New Orleans. Maybe it’s the sweet southern air. Maybe it’s the moist hot humidity. Maybe it’s the iconic food and drink culture. Maybe it’s spirit of the city that conveys “Pleasure is Good.” We consider New Orleans our spiritual- and spirited- home.

Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin
Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin

It there is one name in New Orleans dining that stands heads above others it is “Brennan.” There are several branches of the Brennan family tree running different restaurant operations. Two of our favorite ladies of the Brennan family are Lally Brennan and first cousin Ti Adelaide Martin, who together oversee Commander’ s Palace, Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar at the Loews hotel and Sobou at the W Hotel in the French Quarter, as well as Brennan’s in Houston. Visiting with them is like seeing family.

Mardi Gras Cocktai Commander's Palace
Mardi Gras Cocktai
Commander’s Palace
The Adelaide Swizzle The Swizzle Stick Bar
The Adelaide Swizzle
The Swizzle Stick Bar

 

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans 10 years ago this September, our hearts ached for all our New Orleans friends and family. Lally gamely led David and me through the debris left at Commander’s Palace, and we all envisioned a stronger more defiant city and a sparkling rebuild of the restaurant.

COMMANDERS PALACE GARDEN SHOT

On  March 17, 2007, we were married in Commander’s Palace’s dazzling courtyard. When it was time to promote my first book, Getting Things Off My Chest, Ti and Lally hosted my party at Café Adelaide. Giving back and generously supporting the city, the industry and friends is part of the Brennan family DNA.

family
Dottie Brennan, Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin with family matriarch, Ella Brennan (Wine Spectator Magazine, 2004)

Aside from being multi-talented restaurateurs, Ti and Lally are co-authors of In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures of the Cocktail Chicks.” The Cocktail Chicks are encyclopedic on New Orleans cocktail history and just about everything else in the city’s rich restaurant culture.- post by Melanie Young

IN THE LAND OF COCKTAILS

 

While we’re down in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, we’ll visit with Ti and Lally July 15 at The Swizzle Stick Bar on the Connected Table LIVE! and hope you’ll take a seat and tune in to www.W4CY.com 2pm EST/1om CST. This show will also be available on demand at iHeart.com and the iHeart App.

Melanie Young and David Ransom are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple
Melanie Young and David Ransom are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple
The Old Cuban Soubou
The Old Cuban
Soubou
Sazerac Soubou (Photo: Max Cusimano)
Sazerac
Soubou
(Photo: Max Cusimano)