National Museum of American History Announces Third Annual Smithsonian Food History Gala and Weekend

Restaurateur Danny Meyer To Receive Julia Child Award at Smithsonian Gala Weekend Will Offer Culinary Leaders, Demonstrations, Tastings, Tours and Displays
July 25, 2017

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will host its third annual Food History Weekend Oct. 26–28— a multifaceted festival featuring cooking demonstrations, conversations, activities and displays. Titled “Many Flavors, One Nation,” this year’s event meshes with the theme of the museum’s newly transformed west wing, “The Nation We Build Together,” which presents exhibitions showcasing the founding and evolution of the United States.

The weekend’s events will explore how food has been both a bridge and a barrier to cultural connection in America. From farmers to home cooks to top chefs, they will look at how foodways migrate with people, where foods and flavors have come from and how people have negotiated their differences and celebrated their commonalties over food throughout American history.

Smithsonian Food History Weekends bring together culinary leaders, practitioners and scholars to interact with visitors for live cooking demonstrations, hands-on activities, up-close experiences with historic objects, conversations and more. Participants for the 2017 weekend include Simon Majumdar, author, food and travel writer, and broadcaster; Top Chef contestant Chef Sheldon Simeon; Jonathan Gold, food writer and Pulitzer-prize winning critic of the Los Angeles Times; Francis Lam, host of NPR’s The Splendid Table; food historians Jessica B. Harris, Krishnendu Ray and Joan Nathan; and other participants to be announced later this summer.

“Through programming that showcases museum collections and invites people to participate in conversations, cooking demonstrations and other activities, the Smithsonian Food History Weekend will allow audiences to explore how individuals and groups have played a role in shaping the history and future of their communities—and America—through food,” said John Gray, director of the museum.

The weekend is made up of five distinct events over the course of three days:

      The Gala, Thursday, Oct. 26, is a black-tie fundraising dinner to benefit the programs and exhibitions of the Smithsonian Food History Project. As a highlight of the evening, The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and Culinary Arts will present its annual Julia Child Award, which recognizes an individual who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats and drinks. The foundation has announced that Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, will receive the third annual Julia Child Award. Jacques Pépin received the inaugural award in 2015, and Rick Bayless was the 2016 recipient.

Participants in the gala include author Ruth Reichl; Daniel Humm, chef/co-owner of Make It Nice; and Will Guidara, restaurateur/co-owner of Make It Nice. Nick Lander, restaurant and food writer, will present the award, and Calvin Trillin, journalist, food writer and novelist, will serve as emcee. Carmen Quagliata, executive chef at Union Square Cafe, will design the evening’s menu. Individual tickets are $500 and can be purchased online at

The Roundtables, Friday, Oct. 27, will offer a series of moderated conversations that are free and open to the public. These four discussions feature researchers, practitioners and thinkers coming together to discuss different perspectives and effects of the movement of people, food and traditions throughout American history. More details are available at

The Dine Out, Friday, Oct. 27, is an evening event held throughout the greater Washington, D.C., area featuring unique food selections from participating restaurants that connects to the weekend’s themes and Child’s lasting legacy. Participating restaurants will be available at

The Festival, Saturday, Oct. 28, will present the topic of food history with a full day of free activities for all visitors, including hands-on learning, live demonstrations, garden tours, stories and discussions along with a display of rarely exhibited objects that dive into the past, present and future of food and community in America. More information will be available at

The After Hours, Saturday, Oct. 28, is a ticketed evening program that celebrates the history of American brewing and how its flavors and traditions evolved because of the people who are part of the American brewing industry. Tickets and more information will be available in late August at

The full program and lists of participants for the weekend will be available later this summer at

The evening and other weekend activities are made possible through the support of The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, John Deere, the Brewers Association and Wegmans. The museum is seeking additional sponsors for the gala and the Food History Weekend. For a list of sponsorship opportunities, visit

The Food History Weekend is part of the museum’s Smithsonian Food History Project. Through programs, research and collections, the Smithsonian Food History project at the National Museum of American History invites communities near and far to come to the table. By learning more about American food history, today’s audiences will understand the role they play in shaping how and what people eat.

In addition to its foundational exhibition, “FOOD: Transforming the American Table, 1950–2000,” the museum has developed a diverse menu of programs and demonstrations that bring visitors together for relevant discussions that start with history and expand to the present and future of American food. These activities include weekly free daytime programs for millions of museum visitors each year, regular “After Hours” evenings that mix historical topics with themed food and drinks and the annual Smithsonian Food History Weekend. As the home of Julia Child’s kitchen, the museum is committed to examining the impact of food, drink and agriculture on American History. Learn more at

The National Museum of American History is located on 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information about the Smithsonian Food History Project, exhibitions and programs, visit Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

# # #