Culinary History Made Fresh at National Museum of American History

“Cooking Up History” Continues With Hilton Sponsorship

A chef at the demonstration kitchen gestures behind him as he faces a crowded audience.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is serving up American culinary traditions with a series of “Cooking Up History” demonstrations in 2018. The free, hour-long cooking demonstrations (schedule follows) feature Smithsonian food historian Ashley Rose Young paired with a guest chef each month to prepare a recipe and discuss the history of ingredients and culinary techniques, cultural background or its association with a historical period or individual. Visitors may purchase a dish inspired by the featured recipe in the museum’s cafe.

“Cooking Up History” is presented in the Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza in the museum’s Innovation Wing, which features a fully functional demonstration kitchen, the first of its kind at the Smithsonian. It is the setting for live food demonstrations, discussions and cooking programs, as well as ticketed evening events, as part of the Smithsonian Food History Project.

“The kitchen brings visitors of all ages together for a unique sensory-driven experience that leads to critical and engaging discussions about food’s role in shaping American life,” Young said. “The cooking demonstrations are inspired by our collections and exhibitions, which engage key themes ranging from technology and innovation to migration and community building.”

Hilton is the lead sponsor for the 2018 “Cooking Up History” series. All ingredients used in the kitchen are provided by Wegmans Food Markets. The demonstration kitchen is outfitted with equipment and tools courtesy of Sur La Table and its vendors. Guest chefs for “Cooking Up History” demonstrations are coordinated through a partnership with chefs and food professionals courtesy of Sur La Table and Restaurant Associates, as well as independent chefs, to present a rotating roster and different recipes based on themes developed by the museum.

This year, “Cooking Up History” will explore the following culinary traditions:

  • Feb. 10: The museum has partnered with the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti in Washington, D.C., and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to feature celebrity Haitian Chef Jouvens Jean to explore Haitian food traditions for Carnival.
  • March 17: New Orleans Chef Alon Shaya will discuss personal stories and prepare selected recipes from his new book, An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel.
  • April 6: A new series on regional foodways will begin with Sur La Table guest chef Lindsay Leopold exploring springtime traditions from the Chesapeake.
  • May 4: This program will focus on Asian Pacific American foodways.
  • June 8: Southern traditions will be on the menu in June.
  • July 13: The audience will be able to explore foodways from the Northeast.
  • Aug. 17: In an annual favorite, the museum will celebrate Julia Child’s birthday and legacy with Sur La Table guest chef Lynn Juste cooking up selections from one of Julia Child’s cookbooks.
  • Sept. 14: This program will focus on Latino traditions during Hispanic Heritage Month.
  • Nov. 4: The fourth annual Food History Weekend Festival will feature a full day of free activities for all visitors, including hands-on learning, garden tours, stories, discussions and cooking demonstrations that celebrate American regions remembered, revived and reimagined.
  • December: Wrapping up the year will be a look at regions in the middle of the country, exploring foods and flavors from the Midwest.

Additional details will become available throughout the year, check for updates and details.

The National Museum of American History is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). To learn more about the museum, check Admission is free.

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Valeska Hilbig

Megan Salocks