Food History Weekend Schedule of Events

The Smithsonian Food History Weekend, a cornerstone of the museum’s Smithsonian Food History Project, gathers culinary leaders and scholars every fall to inspire visitors with demonstrations, hands-on experiences, special displays, tastings, roundtable discussions and more. To connect with the museum’s 2016 theme of America Participates, a yearlong investigation of how Americans contribute to their democracy, the weekend will look at “Politics on Your Plate” and the relationship between food, politics and people.

The Food History Weekend includes five events Oct. 27-29. More information is available at

Editor’s Note: All programs are free and held at the museum unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, October 27

Rick Bayless Book Signing
Thursday, October 27, 1 p.m.
Constitution Ave lobby
Free, books available for purchase

Recipient of the 2016 Julia Child Award and five-time James Beard Award winner Rick Bayless signs copies of “More Mexican Everyday,” his latest cookbook featuring a dozen "master-class" recipes, innovative vegetable dishes, flavorings dishes, and many other creations from his kitchen.

Smithsonian Food History Gala
Thursday, October 27, 6:30 p.m.
Flag Hall
Tickets required: $500:

The museum will host a black-tie fundraising dinner featuring the presentation of the second annual Julia Child Award to Rick Bayless by the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Presenters include Kim Severson as master of ceremonies and Chef José Andrés and NPR’s Scott Simon as featured speakers. All proceeds benefit the Smithsonian Food History Project.

Friday, October 28

Smithsonian Food History Roundtables
Friday, October 28, 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Warner Bros. Theater
Free registration required:

The Roundtables will feature four sessions of moderated conversations between leading researchers, practitioners and thinkers to address big issues. After each session, select participants will sign copies of their books, all books will be available for purchase. A reception with light appetizers and drinks follows the last session for registered attendees and participants.

  • Session 1: The Politics of Food
    9:45 – 10:45 a.m.
    Warren Belasco, University of Maryland – Baltimore County; Adrian Miller, culinary historian and author; Marion Nestle , NYU and Dan Charles, NPR correspondent discuss how food is political and why it matters.
  • Session 1 Book Signings
    10:45 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.
    Adrian Miller signs copies of “Soul Food” and Marion Nestle signs copies of “Soda Politics” and “Eat, Drink, Vote.”
  • Session 2: The Politics of Farm Labor
    11:10 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Carlos Castañeda, Castañeda & Sons, Inc and Mission Labor, Inc; Deborah Fitzgerald, MIT; Eliseo Medina, Service Employees International Union and Mireya Loza, curator at the museum, discuss how workers’ lives are shaped by what people eat.
  • Session 2 Book Signings
    12:10 p.m. – 12:40 p.m.
    Deborah Fitzgerald signs copies of “Every Farm a Factory;” museum curators Paula Johnson and Steve Velasquez sign copies of “Food and Museums;” Mexican American artist Carmen Lomas Garza signs copies of her children’s books, “Family Pictures,” “In My Family” and “Magic Windows” and Mireya Loza signs copies of “Defiant Braceros.”
  • Session 3: The Politics of Labeling
    1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
    Jean Halloran, Consumers Union; Susan T. Mayne, FDA; Michael Moss, journalist and author and Susan Strasser, University of Delaware discuss how food labels have developed.
  • Session 3 Book Signings
    2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.
    Michael Moss signs copies of “Sugar, Salt, Fat” and Susan Strasser signs copies of “Satisfaction Guaranteed.”
  • Session 4: The Politics of Health
    3 – 4 p.m.
    Rock Harper, chef, restaurateur, and “Hell’s Kitchen” winner; Elizabeth Hoover, professor, Brown University; Brian Wansink, professor, Cornell University and Helen Zoe Veit, assistant professor, Michigan State University discuss perceptions of what is good for us and who decides what that means.
  • Session 4 Book Signings
    4 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    Brian Wansink signs copies of “Slim by Design” and Helen Zoe Veit signs copies of “Food in the Civil War Era: The South.”

Dine Out for Smithsonian Food History
Friday, October 28
Participating restaurants, Washington, D.C. metro region
Please see website for hours and other details:

Select restaurants in the greater D.C. metro region will feature a special dinner dish inspired by Julia Child on their menu with proceeds going to support the Smithsonian Food History Project. Participating restaurants include America Eats Tavern, Bluejacket, Café Dupont, Centrolina, China Chilcano, Compass Rose, Doi Moi, Estadio, Garrison, Hazel, Iron Gate, Jaleo, Julia’s Restaurant and Lounge, Kyirisan, Oyamel, The Partisan, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Pizzeria Paradiso, Proof, The Riggsby, Ris, The Sovereign, Trummer’s on Main, Veloce, Vermilion and Zaytinya. Reservations must be made through restaurants.
*Subject to change

Smithsonian Food History Festival
Saturday, October 29, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The Food History Festival will present a full day of free activities for visitors of all ages that will spark conversations about the past, present and future of food and community. Activities will include live cooking demonstrations, film screenings, curator-led exhibition tours, hands-on learning activities, rarely-exhibited objects on display and tours of the Victory Garden. A complete schedule is below, listed by location.

Note: there will be no free food tastings available. The museum’s Stars & Stripes Cafe will have food available for purchase from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Cooking Demonstrations
10:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West
Live cooking demonstrations on the museum’s kitchen stage.

  • 10:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. : “Cookies and Kindness” with chef and baker Dorie Greenspan
  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: “The Presidents Kitchen” with soul food scholar and former special assistant to President Bill Clinton Adrian Miller and Daily Beast columnist Ailsa Von Dobeneck
  • 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.: “Cook’s Science” with America’s Test Kitchen “Cook’s Science” executive editor Molly Birnbaum and editor and cast member Dan Souza
  • 2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.: “Soul Food Love” with cookbook authors Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams
  • 3:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.: “Bring It: Potluck Politics” with author, cook, and Washington Post food contributor Cathy Barrow

The Kids Table
10:30 a.m. – 4:25 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West

A hands-on activity table open during each cooking demo where young chefs can participate alongside the demos while expanding their culinary skills.

Meet-the-Author Culinary Book Signings
11 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West

Cooking demo chefs sign copies of their books after their respective demonstrations. All books will be available for purchase.

  • 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Dorie Greenspan signs copies of “Dorie’s Cookies”
  • 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.: Adrian Miller signs copies of “Soul Food”
  • 1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.: Molly Birnbaum and Dan Souza sign copies of “Cook’s Science”
  • 3 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams sign copies of “Soul Food Love”
  • 4:15 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.: Cathy Barrow signs copies of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry”

Spark!Lab Culinary Activities
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Spark!Lab, 1 West

The museum’s hands-on exhibition for young inventors ages 6 to 12 to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment and invent presents three culinary-themed activities for Food History Weekend, including “Reuse Plastic Grocery Bags,” “Reinventing the Shopping Cart” and “Can You Invent a New Kitchen Gadget?”

Deep Dish Dialogues
10:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Warner Bros. Theater, 1 Center
Free registration recommended:

Curators, authors and experts dig deep into how food and politics are connected. Select book signings will be available where indicated:

  • 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.: “A Road Trip through the Road Food Archives” writers Jane and Michael Stern
  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: Jane and Michael Stern sign copies of “Roadfood” and “Two for the Road” outside the theater
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: “Political History Kitchens” with independent radio producers, NPR’s Kitchen Sisters
  • 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.: “Food on Film” with museum archivist, Wendy Shay
  • 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: “Julia Child in the 1970s” with Julia’s grand-nephew and author Alex Prud’homme
  • 4:30 – 5:00 p.m.: Alex Prud’homme signs copies of “The French Chef in America” outside the theater

Research Rotary
11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Flag Hall, 2 Center

Museum curators and researchers present recent projects that connect food, politics, people and power. Select book signings will be available where indicated:

  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: “Defiant Braceros” with curator Mireya Loza.
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1 p.m.: Mireya Loza signs copies of her book “Defiant Braceros”
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.: “Barbecue, Beer, and Ballots” with curator Jon Grinspan
  • 2:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.: Jon Grinspan signs copies of his book “The Virgin Vote”
  • 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: “Precision Agriculture” with curator Peter Liebhold

Food Psychology by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Flag Hall, 2 Center

The Cornell Food and Brand Lab will share a glimpse at the hidden factors that impact food choices in a hands-on activity.

Harvest for the Table: Wheat to Flour
12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Flag Hall, 2 Center

Visitors can try their hand at milling wheat into flour and learn how wheat was grown and harvested in 1900.

Collections Objects on Display
1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
3 West

Museum curators and collections staff display rarely-seen collections objects and archival material that tell stories about the history of food, politics, and people.

Smithsonian Gardens Activities
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Victory Garden, east lawn (outside)

Smithsonian Gardens will present hands-on activities that explore history and community participation including tours of the museum’s WWII-era Victory Garden, flower pounding and seed saving.

After Hours: The Great History of American Brewing
6:30 – 9 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West
Tickets required: $40,

The Food History Weekend will be capped by an evening of brewing history featuring historians, experts and representatives of several breweries as they explore the Colonial era, 19th century, Prohibition, and the 1970s. The conversations will be followed by a reception that includes meeting the experts, hands-on activities, viewing museum collections and tasting some historically inspired brews. In addition, the guests will be able to participate in a scavenger hunt with prizes for the first three teams to hunt down the correct answers.

Speakers include Frank Clark of Colonial Williamsburg, museum curator Jon Grinspan, Kate Haulman of American University and the founder of The Brewers Association, Charlie Papazian. Participating breweries include Alewerks Brewing Company of historic Williamsburg, Bluejacket, Heavy Seas Beer of Baltimore and New Columbia Distillers. Tickets include beer tastings and food pairings.

About the Museum

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is continuing to renovate its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on democracy and culture. The museum 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). Admission is free. For more information, visit For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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