Past Years


Browse through moments, participants, videos, photos, and more from previous years of Smithsonian Food History Weekend. 

2017: Many Flavors, One Nation | 2016: Politics on Your Plate | 2015: Innovation on Your Plate

Graphic of cooking instruments paired with text, The 3rd Annual Smithsonian Food History Weekend, Many Flavors, One Nation

2017: Many Flavors, One Nation

The Gala | The Roundtables | The Festival | The After Hours

On October 26-28, 2017 our third annual Smithsonian Food History Weekend explored how food has been both a bridge and a barrier to cultural connection in America. From farmers to home cooks to top chefs, how does food migrate with people? Where does our food really come from? And how have people negotiated their differences and celebrated their commonalties over food throughout American history?

Danny Meyer on stage

The Gala
Thursday, October 26, 2017

The 3rd Annual Smithsonian Food History Gala was a black tie evening to support the ongoing research, collecting, and programs of our American Food History Project. The evening featured:

  • The presentation of the 2017 Julia Child Award to Danny Meyer
  • Calvin Trillin as Master of Ceremonies
  • Author Ruth Reichl as a featured speaker
  • Co-owners of Make It Nice Daniel Humm and Will Guidara as featured speakers
  • Restaurant critic Nick Lander as the award presenter
  • A three-course menu created by Chef Carmen Quagliata

Simon Majumdar, Joan Nathan, and Jessica Harris on stage

The Roundtables
Friday, October 27, 2017

The Smithsonian Food History Roundtables are a series of free, moderated conversations for all inquiring minds. Leading researchers, practitioners, and thinkers come together to address big issues around food in America via four roundtable sessions over the course of the day. As part of the 2017 Food History Weekend, the Roundtables explored how migrations of people throughout American history have shaped our foodways and influenced profound cultural exchanges around food.

Participants and videos of the discussions are below:

Session 1: Migration Nation

An opening discussion for the day featuring:

  • Hasia Diner, Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History, New York University
  • Matt Garcia, Professor of Latin American, Latino & Caribbean Studies and History, Dartmouth College
  • Maricel Presilla, Culinary historian, author, and chef
  • Krishnendu Ray, Chair, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, NYU
  • Moderator: Francis Lam, Host, public radio's The Splendid Table

Watch Session 1 here >>

Session 2: Help Wanted

Whether in the fields, factories, or restaurant kitchens, how has working in food provided an economic toehold for migrants throughout American history? Featuring:

  • Heather Lee, Assistant Professor, NYU Shanghai
  • Tracie McMillan, Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism
  • Jose Oliva, Co-Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance
  • Dominic Pacyga, Former Professor of History, Columbia College/Chicago
  • Moderator: Theresa McCulla, Historian, American Brewing History Initiative, National Museum of American History

Watch Session 2 here >>

Session 3: Serving Up Traditions

How do we express our identity and culture through food? Which traditions are kept and which evolve into something new?

  • Daniel Bender, Canada Research Chair of Global Culture and professor of History and Food Studies, University of Toronto
  • Lois Ellen Frank, Chef, author, Native foods
  • David S. Shields, Carolina Distinguished Professor, University of South Carolina
  • Toni Tipton-Martin, Author
  • Moderator: Lavanya Ramanathan, Features writer/editor, The Washington Post

Watch Session 3 here >>

Session 4: Tales of Three Dishes

How does an individual dish or recipe tell a story?

  • Jessica B. Harris, Culinary historian and author
  • Joan Nathan, Cookbook author
  • Simon Majumdar, Food writer, author, and broadcaster

Watch Session 4 here >>


Cooking demonstration

The Festival
Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Smithsonian Food History Weekend Festival is a free day of hands-on learning, live demonstrations, talks, and stories exploring the past, present and future of food and community in America. Talented chefs, local organizations, experts, museum curators, students, and more joined us to spark conversation, lead activities, and dig into food history with museum visitors of all ages.

See below for the full lineup:

Live Cooking Demonstrations

  • Maricel Presilla: Peppers of the Americas
  • Simon Majumdar: Life Saving Dahl
  • Sarah Lohman: Sriracha – One of the Eight Flavors of American Cuisine
  • Tim Ma: Beyond the Chinese Family Restaurant
  • Sheldon Simeon: Many Flavors of Hawai’i

Hands-On Activities

  • The Kids Table
  • Spark!Lab Invention Activities
  • Common Threads! Station
  • Agriculture on the Move!
  • The Business of Chocolate: From Bean to Drink
  • Harvest for the Table: Wheat to Flour
  • Puppet Shows with Rosalia Torres-Weiner
  • Smithsonian Gardens activities and tours

Deep Dish Dialogues

  • The Culinary Diplomacy Project featuring Chef Rock Harper, Chef Frank Ruta, Chef Art Smith, and Lauren Bernstein.
  • Sidedoor: Live! featuring host Tony Cohn, Chef Jerome Grant, and Maricel Presilla
  • Food Culture Writing and Reporting featuring Francis Lam, Lavanya Ramanathan, and Joe Yonan
  • Diaspora Chefs featuring Sileshi Alifom, Chef Benjamin Velasquez, Noobstaa Philip Vang, and Johanna Mendelson-Forman


Staff serving beer

The After Hours
Saturday, October 28, 2017

We toasted to the end of another great Smithsonian Food History Weekend while exploring histories of migration and movement in American beer.

America has always been a nation of people on the move. In every era and under many circumstances, Americans have crossed borders and oceans or simply picked up and moved across town. We may not realize it, but the history of our very mobile United States has been recorded in the beer we drink. Brewing techniques, the ingredients we use, the flavors we prefer, and our habits related to consuming beer draw from the traditions of many groups. As a result, Americans enjoy the richest, most varied brewing culture on the planet.

To wrap up the weekend, we had a conversation with four brewers who bring unique stories of movement and migration – through personal experience or inspiration – to their beer. Driving questions included: How have these histories influenced the beers they brew? How do the brewers define the role of beer in American society, past, present, and future? How can their journeys expand our understanding of American history?

Participating brewers and their breweries:

  • Celeste Beatty, founder of Harlem Brewing Company, New York, NY
  • Uli Bennewitz, Weeping Radish Farm Brewery, Manteo, NC
  • An Bui, founder of The Answer Brewpub, Richmond, VA
  • Oscar Wong, founder of Highland Brewing Company, Asheville, NC


Food History Weekend logo banner

2016: Politics on Your Plate

The Gala | The Roundtables | Dine Out | The Festival | After Hours

On October 27-29, 2016, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History brought together culinary leaders, researchers, practitioners, and scholars to inspire Museum visitors to understand the history of food in America and the role they play, individually and collectively, in shaping the future of food. Through live cooking demonstrations, hands-on learning opportunities, talks, experiences with incomparable collections, and much more, the 2016 Smithsonian Food History Weekend explored the relationship between food, politics, and people. How have we participated, as individuals and communities, in shaping American food and foodways? Whose voices are influencing food policy today? What are the critical issues, and what role does democracy play in the future of food in America?

Rick Bayless with the Julia Child Award

The Smithsonian Food History Gala 2016
Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Gala is a seated dinner dedicated to the history of American food and a fundraiser for Smithsonian Food History programs. The highlight of the evening was the second annual presentation of the Julia Child Award to Rick Bayless by the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. The evening featured inspiring speakers, delicious food, and world class beer and wine. Participants and featured guests at the Gala included:

  • Rick Bayless, the 2016 recipient of the Julia Child Award
  • Kim Severson, master of ceremonies
  • José Andrés, featured speaker
  • Scott Simon, featured speaker

View images from this special evening.


Panel of four people talking on stage

The Smithsonian Food History Roundtables 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016

Leading researchers, practitioners, and thinkers came together to address big issues around food in America via four roundtable sessions over the course of the day. All sessions were held in the Warner Bros. Theater at the National Museum of American History and webcast online. The videos, schedule, and participants for the 2016 Roundtables are below:


How is food political, and why does it matter? Setting the terms and themes for the day.

  • Warren Belasco, Professor Emeritus, American Studies, University of Maryland - Baltimore County
  • Adrian Miller, Culinary historian and author, Soul Food
  • Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, NYU
  • MODERATOR: Dan Charles, Food and Agriculture Correspondent, NPR

Watch Session 1 discussion here.


How are workers' lives shaped by what we eat?

  • Carlos Castañeda, Owner and operator, Castañeda & Sons, Inc, and Mission Labor, Inc
  • Deborah Fitzgerald, Cutten Professor, History of Technology, MIT
  • Eliseo Medina, Former International Secretary-Treasurer, Service Employees International Union
  • MODERATOR: Mireya Loza, Curator, Division of Political History, National Museum of American History

Watch Session 2 discussion here.


How did food labels become so complex?

  • Jean Halloran, Director, Food Policy Initiatives, Consumers Union
  • Susan T. Mayne, Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA
  • Michael Moss, Journalist and author, Sugar, Salt, Fat
  • MODERATOR: Susan Strasser, Richards Professor Emerita, American History, University of Delaware

Watch Session 3 discussion here.


What's good for you, how do you find out, and who gets to decide?

  • Rock Harper, Chef and restaurateur
  • Elizabeth Hoover, Assistant Professor, American Studies, Brown University
  • Brian Wansink, Professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Cornell University
  • MODERATOR: Helen Zoe Veit, Associate Professor, History, Michigan State University

Watch Session 4 discussion here.


Menu and plate with candle

Dine Out for Smithsonian Food History 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016

As a change to continue the conversations over dinner and support future Smithsonian Food History programs, the Dine Out is a one-night fundraiser with participating restaurants around the greater D.C. metro region. Restaurants featured a special dish on their menus inspired by Julia Child and the legacy she left on American eating and cooking. Participating restaurants, sorted by neighborhood or region, included:

Capitol Hill

  • Garrison • 524 8th Street SE, Washington, D.C.


  • Bluejacket • 300 Tingey St SE, Washington, D.C.

Downtown D.C.

  • Centrolina • 974 Palmer Alley NW, Washington, D.C.
  • China Chilcano • 418 7th St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Jaleo DC • 480 7th St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Oyamel • 401 7th St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Proof • 775 G St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Ris • 2275 L St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • The Partisan • 709 D St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Veloce • 1828 L St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Zaytinya • 701 9th St NW, Washington, D.C.

14th Street and U Street corridors

  • Compass Rose • 1346 T St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Doi Moi • 1800 14th St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Estadio • 1520 14th St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Hazel • 808 V St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Kyirisan • 1924 8th St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Pearl Dive Oyster Palace • 1612 14th St NW, Washington, D.C.

Dupont Circle

  • Café Dupont • 1500 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Iron Gate • 1734 N St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Pizzeria Paradiso • 2003 P St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • The Riggsby • 1731 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C.


  • Pizzeria Paradiso • 3282 M St NW, Washington, D.C.
  • The Sovereign • 1206 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C.


  • America Eats Tavern • Tysons Galleria, 1700 Tysons Blvd, Tysons, Virginia
  • Julia’s Restaurant and Lounge • 13970 Metrotech Dr, Chantilly, Virginia
  • Pizzeria Paradiso •  124 King St, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Trummer’s on Main • 7134 Main St, Clifton, Virginia
  • Vermillion •  1120 King St, Alexandria, Virginia


Museum visitors around a wheat mill demonstration table

The Smithsonian Food History Festival 2016
Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Food History Festival presented a free day of hands-on learning, live demonstrations, talks, and stories exploring the past, present and future of food and community in America. Talented chefs, local organizations, experts, museum curators, students, and more were on hand to spark conversation, lead activities, and dig into food history with museum visitors of all ages. All activities werefree, events in the Warner Bros. Theater required free registration. See below for the full schedule of events, free demo recipes, and featured participants:



  • A place for young budding chefs to participate alongside the cooking demos while expanding their chef skills by touching, smelling, looking, and doing. Open during each cooking demo; free to attend.


  • Dorie Greenspan signs Dorie's Cookies
  • Adrian Miller signs Soul Food
  • Molly Birnbaum and Dan Souza sign Cook's Science
  • Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams sign Soul Food Love
  • Cathy Barrow signs Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry Techniques


  • Reuse Plastic Grocery Bags
  • Reinventing the Shopping Cart
  • Can You Invent a New Kitchen Gadget?


  • A Roadtrip through the Road Food Archives with Jane and Michael Stern
  • NPR's Kitchen Sisters: Hidden Political Kitchens
  • Food on Film
  • Julia Child in the 1970s with Alex Prud'homme


  • Defiant Braceros with Mireya Loza
  • Barbecue, Beer, and Ballots with Jon Grinspan
  • Precision Agriculture with Peter Liebhold


  • Food Psychology - Session 1
  • Food Psychology - Session 2


  • How did top music artists and family farmers partner to create the longest running concert for a cause? Learn how Farm Aid got its start during the 1980s Farm Crisis, about Farm Aid's work throughout the year, and what the future looks like for family farm agriculture.


  • Wheat to Flour - Session 1
  • Wheat to Flour - Session 2


  • Curators display rarely seen collections objects and pieces that tell stories about the history of food, politics, community, and people in America. Free to attend.


  • Victory Garden Tours
  • Flower Pounding
  • Seed Saving


Frank Clark of Colonial Williamsburg

After Hours at the Smithsonian Food History Weekend
The Great History of American Brewing 
Saturday, October 29, 2016

It’s a fact: beer history is American history, and to celebrate and explore this, we served up a flight of brewing history with the help of historians, experts, and breweries. The evening started with four tasty tales of brewing, beer, and policy from the Colonial era, 19th century, Prohibition, and the 1970s featuring:

  • Frank Clark, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Jon Grinspan, National Museum of American History
  • Dr. Kate Haulman, American University
  • Charlie Papazian, Brewers Association

Then the night opened to an interactive reception with deeper tastes, stories, politics, and history of each era with experts, museum collections and archival materials, and some historically inspired brews at themed stations. The exhibitions American Enterprise and Object Project were open for a scavenger hunt with prizes for the first three teams to hunt down all the correct answers. This event was a joint project with the museum’s new American Brewing History Initiative and American History (After Hours)Participating breweries included:

  • Alewerks Brewing Company, Historic Williamsburg, VA
  • Heavy Seas Beer, Baltimore, MD
  • New Columbia Distillers, Washington, DC
  • Bluejacket, Washington, DC

Missed the fun? Want to hear those stories again? Watch the presentations from the evening's experts here.


Food History Weekend 2015 logo and chef cooking

2015: Innovation on Your Plate

The Gala | The Roundtables | Dine Out | The Festival | After Hours

On October 22-24 2015, for the inaugural Smithsonian Food History Weekend, we examined America’s rich history of innovation. What did “innovation” mean historically in terms of food production and preparation? And what does it mean in today’s food world? The Weekend featured three distinct but interconnected days of events for a wide range of food audiences and multiple conversations around the theme of Innovation on Your Plate.
Jacques Pepin at the Gala

The Smithsonian Food History Gala 2015
Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Gala, a fundraiser evening for the Smithsonian Food History programs, featured inspiring entertainment and extraordinary food and wine. The highlight of the evening was the inaugural presentation of the Julia Child Award by the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Participants and featured guests at the Gala included:
  • Jacques Pépin, the first-ever recipient of the Julia Child Award
  • Daniel Boulud, creator of the Gala's three-course menu and presenter of the inaugural Julia Child Award
  • Alton Brown, master of ceremonies
  • Marcus Samuelsson, featured speaker
  • Sara Moulton, featured speaker
  • Derek Brown, creator of the Gala's signature cocktail 


Discussion with five participants

The Smithsonian Food History Roundtables 2015
Friday, October 23, 2015

Leading researchers, practitioners, and thinkers joined us for a day of free roundtable discussions to address big issues around food and innovation in America via talks, discussions, and presentations throughout the day. All sessions were held at in the Warner Bros. Theater at the National Museum of American History. The schedule and participants for the 2015 Roundtables included:

SESSION 1- Innovation and Food: Beyond What's New

What does “innovation” mean in American food history and in today’s food culture?

  • Andrew F. Smith, food historian and author
  • Krysta Harden, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, USDA
  • J. Kenji López-Alt, managing culinary director, Serious Eats
  • Paula Johnson, curator, National Museum of American History

SESSION 2- Growing Innovations

What are the driving forces behind innovations in American agriculture and food production? 

  • David Mas Masumoto, Masumoto Family Farm
  • Nikiko Masumoto, Masumoto Family Farm
  • Kathleen Merigan, executive director, Sustainability at George Washington University
  • Malik Yakini, founder and executive director, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
  • Zach Hunnicutt, farmer, Hunnicutt Farms and DWH Inc.
  • Peter Liebhold, curator, National Museum of American History

SESSION 3- Innovation and the Business of Food

What role does innovation play in creating and sustaining food-related business? 

  • Seth Goldman, co-founder, Honest Tea 
  • Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, founder and CEO, Hot Bread Kitchen
  • Dorothy Neagle, co-founder, Good Food Jobs
  • Kathleen Franz, curator, National Museum of American History

SESSION 4- Innovation on the Plate

What stimulates innovation in the kitchen, both historically and today?

  • Darra Goldstein, founding editor, Gastronomica
  • Judith Dern, senior communications manager,
  • Jessica B. Harris, culinary historian and author
  • Mariano Ramos, culinary arts instructor, Carlos Rosario International School
  • Rayna Green, curator emerita, National Museum of American History


Chocolate cake close-up

Dine Out for Smithsonian Food History 2015 
Friday, October 23, 2015

A fundraiser for the Smithsonian Food History programs, on Friday evening restaurants in the Neighborhood Restaurant Group featured a special dish on their menus inspired by Julia Child and the legacy she left on American eating and cooking. 

Participating Restaurants:

  • Birch & Barley, 1337 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
  • Iron Gate, 1734 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Vermilion, 1120 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
  • The Partisan, 709 D St NW, Washington, DC 20004
  • Evening Star Café, 2000 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22301

Neighborhood Restaurant Group is an award winning collection of independent and idiosyncratic business devoted to the culinary arts in Washington, DC and Virginia.


Pati Jinich demonstration in front of a large crowd

The Smithsonian Food History Festival 2015 
Saturday, October 24, 2015

The festival presented a full day of free activities for visitors of all ages designed to spark conversations about the past, present, and future of food innovations in America. See below for the full schedule of activities and participants throughout the day:

Live Food and Cooking Innovation Demonstrations

  • Tea Innovations with Honest Tea
  • Innovating Salsas and Guacamole with Pati Jinich
  • Innovations in Cake Baking with CakeLove's Warren Brown
  • Curing Innovations with Red Apron Butchery's Nathan Anda
  • Innovations in Pastry with Jim Dodge
  • Innovating Oaxacan Cooking with Neftali Duran

Meet-the-Author Culinary Book Signings

  • American Enterprise signed by Peter Liebhold
  • Pati's Mexican Table signed by Pati Jinich
  • Pie Love and Cake Love in the Morning signed by Warren Brown
  • The Carrot Purple signed by Joel Denker
  • In Meat We Trust signed by Maureen Ogle
  • Growing Tomorrow signed by Forrest Pritchard
  • The Perfect Peach signed by David Mas Masumoto

Agricultural Displays

  • The National FFA Organization
  • United Soybean Board

Spark!Lab Culinary Activities

  • Roll and Shape
  • Reinventing the Shopping Cart
  • What's Your Favorite Kitchen Gadget?

Film Screenings and Discussions

  • Food on film (archival television advertising and film reels)
  • Farmland Film Screening and Discussion 
  • Changing Season on the Masumoto Family Farm Film Screening and Discussion

Exhibition Tours

  • American Enterprise tour and discussion
  • FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000 tour and discussion

Smithsonian Gardens Innovation Activities

  • Victory Garden tours
  • Flower pounding
  • Seed saving


Beer glass filling at tap

After Hours at the Smithsonian Food History Weekend
Brewing Up Innovation 
Saturday, October 24, 2015

Brewers and historians joined us to reflect on the history of brewing and the resurgence of the modern craft beer movement. Guests conducted some innovative beer research of their own as they sampled brews from breweries and checked out some history brewing objects from the museum's collections. The evening began with a conversation and opened to an interactive reception featuring the following speakers and participating breweries:

  • Kim Jordan, co-founder, executive chair, Board of Directors, New Belgium Brewing Co.
  • Dick Cantwell, brewer, author, and quality ambassador, Brewers Association
  • Maureen Ogle, historian and author of Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer
  • Susan Evans McClure, program director, Smithsonian Food History
  • New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO
  • Bluejacket Brewery, Washington, DC 
  • Right Proper Brewing Company, Washington, DC
  • Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD