National Museum of American History Hosts Inaugural Food History Gala

Chefs Daniel Boulud, Alton Brown, Marcus Samuelsson, Sara Moulton and Spirits Expert Derek Brown Participate in Sold-out Red Carpet Event As Inaugural Julia Child Award Presented to Jacques Pépin by Julia Child Foundation
October 22, 2015

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, home to Julia Child’s kitchen, tonight will host its inaugural Smithsonian Food History gala dinner. The gala launches the museum’s first annual Food History Weekend, with activities scheduled Oct. 22–24, under the theme of “Innovation on Your Plate,” to examine the rich history of innovation in the production, preparation and consumption of food.

As a highlight of the evening, The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts will present its first Julia Child Award to renowned chef, cookbook author and culinary personality Jacques Pépin, Child’s longtime close friend and collaborator.

“Julia Child’s legacy inspires all of us to see food as a great connector of people and our shared cultures,” said John Gray, director of the museum. “We are proud to host the presentation of the first Julia Child Award to Jacques Pépin; he has done so much to bring French zest for food and wine to the American table and in the process has created something fundamentally American.”

“The trustees and I are delighted by the jury’s selection of Jacques as the inaugural recipient,” said Eric W. Spivey, chairman of the Julia Child Foundation. “Jacques’ significant contributions to the American food world, through his books, public appearances, award-winning television programs and his support of culinary education like the Gastronomy Program at Boston University, which he helped found with Julia, embody the significant contributions in gastronomy and the culinary arts that this Award was created to showcase.”

French chef Daniel Boulud will present the award to Pépin on behalf of the foundation. Boulud, chef-owner of many award-winning restaurants, including Michelin-starred DANIEL in New York and DBGB in Washington, D.C., also designed the evening’s menu. The three courses will pay tribute to Child and Pépin’s spirits of innovation as well as to television which helped bring the art of cooking to people everywhere.

Guests will enjoy terrine de porc, veau, et jambon (pork and veal pâté with ham) and pommes de herre à l’huile (french potato salad) as the first course. A bourride and aïoli (provençal fish stew with garlic mayonnaise) that Child called a fulsome dish, will be served as the main course. A poire au chocolat (poached pear and chocolate sauce) will provide the finishing touch.

Wines paired with the meal have been provided by Margerum Wine Co., Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards and Lafond Winery and Vineyards of Santa Barbara, CalifChild spent many years in Santa Barbara and was an active force in the local food and wine community. Guests will also have the choice of beer pairings provided by New Belgium Brewing Co.

Alton Brown, multi-James Beard Award-winning star of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and Good Eats and author of multiple cookbooks, will serve as emcee for the gala. Brown credits Child as one of Good Eats’ 3 main pillars, the trio of influences Brown points to as the inspiration and foundation for his show: Alongside Child—whose “anyone can cook” method is the basis of current instructional cooking shows—were Mr. Wizard (the educational aspect) and Monty Python (bringing the entertainment value).

James Beard Award-winning chef and cookbook author, Marcus Samuelsson, will speak about Child’s influence and inspiration. Samuelsson calls Child the original culinary reality star who taught everyone that imperfection can create the most wonderful meals and how fun it is to cook.

Cookbook author, television host and Child protégée, Sara Moulton, will speak about Child’s influence as innovator and teacher. Her take-away lessons from Child were to never stop learning, making mistakes is OK and that cooking is more than just cooking, it is about dining, sharing and appreciating.

Derek Brown, a cocktail and spirits writer, spirits judge and owner of Mockingbird Hill and several other bars in D.C., has created a special cocktail in honor of Child and Pépin. The gala’s cocktail is called “Lost Oranges,” and is based on a recipe that hung in the pantry of Child’s Cambridge home. That recipe is titled À la recherche de l'orange perdue (In Search of the Lost Orange), clearly a pun on Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdue (In Search of Lost Time).

Tickets for the sold-out fundraising event were priced at $250 to benefit the programs and exhibitions of the museum’s Smithsonian Food History programming. The Smithsonian Food History Weekend, a cornerstone of the museum’s American Food History Project, will gather culinary leaders, researchers, practitioners and scholars every fall to inspire visitors with culinary demonstrations, hands-on learning opportunities, tastings, roundtable discussions and more. Scheduled this year to run Oct. 22–24, the program will include distinct events spread throughout the course of the weekend to present opportunities to participate, explore and eat. In 2016, the Food History weekend will take place Oct. 27–29. More information is available at bit.ly/FoodWeekend.

The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts

The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts was created by Julia in 1995 as a grant-giving private foundation. Through its support of other non-profit organizations whose work advances matters Julia valued, the foundation honors her lifelong love of learning, her far-reaching impact as a teacher and mentor, and her passion for gastronomy and the culinary arts. Information about the Foundation can be found at http://juliachildfoundation.org. Information about the award is available here: http://www.juliachildaward.com.

The National Museum of American History

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. It is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu.