Food History Weekend 2016

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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.