Archive for the ‘Around the Table: The Social Scene at SoFAB’ Category

Eating in the Gulf of Mexico and the Carribean Basin – 2010 Words in Food Symposium

September 20, 2010

Join the Southern Food and Beverage Museum for our second annual Words in Food Symposium Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 1st through 3rd. The theme of the 2010 symposium is Eating in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Basin. Scholars, researchers, food writers and others will discuss the cross influences in the region, the ecology and cultural exchanges, as well as other issues and ideas. We will also discuss the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the food and culture of the area. Presentations will focus primarily on the countries that have a coast on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Participation in the symposium is open to all.

The symposium covers three days, October 1-3, 2010.  Speakers and panelists include James Carville, who will launch a new lecture series at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Contemporary Issues Impacting Southern Food and Beverages.  He will speak about the cultural impact of the oil spill, culinary and otherwise. Jessica Harris, noted culinary historian, author, and educator, will give the keynote address and sit on other panels, including Rum.

Please visit our website to learn more about the panels, panelists, and other speakers.


From the Director’s Desk

August 5, 2010

By Liz Williams

Liz Williams, SoFAB Director

August is going to be a terrific month at SoFAB.  Of course, it all starts with our spectacular Tailgating Party on August 8.  Besides the very special riffs on tailgating food that our chefs will produce, we can promise great music and fun entertainment.  This year the Muff-A-Lottas will be dancing for us.  In addition the Big Easy Roller Girls will bring their celebrity presence to the scene.  Even the Zephyrs mascot will make an appearance.

But the month also promises absinthe.  Besides  Damian Hevia’s beautiful photographs, Absinthe Visions, hanging in the photography gallery, we have a month’s worth of talks about the subject sponsored by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

And we are looking forward to a very ambitious and exciting symposium in early October.  With that symposium will be a new exhibit about the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean Basin and its food exchanges.  With a serious nod at the Deep Horizon Oil Spill and its impact this symposium will present an exciting and important perspective on current culinary matters.  In addition our Clearinghouse makes it possible for all of the researchers on the cultural impact of the Deep Horizon Oil Spill to make connections to others as well as see what others are doing.

In spite of all of the activity in August, things will be a bit more quiet behind the scenes.  We have said good-bye to interns from Yale, Duke, Tulane and France.  They were so helpful, making great advances in the exhibits, organization and identity of SoFAB.  Thanks to all of them for all of their hard work.  And click on the French flag on our website and read about us in French!

I hope to see all of you on August 8.


Liz Williams is the Director of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum

Absinthe Minded Events at SoFAB

July 6, 2010

SoFAB Celebrates the Green Fairy During August

BY Chris Smith

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has created a series of events in August that celebrate one of the most misunderstood potables of all time.

Absinthe Minded is an event that includes lectures about absinthe, tastings, a photo exhibit and an artifact exhibit. It is sponsored by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

Absinthe is an anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs, including Artemisia absinthium, also known as wormwood. Traditionally, it has a natural green color but it can also appear as colorless. Historically, it is referred to as “la fee verte,” or the Green Fairy.

Absinthe is a spirit – not a liqueur which is bottled and has sugar added to it. Absinthe is unusual in that it is bottled at a high proof and usually is diluted with water or other liquids when consumed.

Absinthe has been labeled as a dangerous mind-altering drug because of the presence of the chemical thujone. It was banned in the United States and in most European countries by 1915. It was recently legalized in this country after evidence showed that it was no more dangerous than ordinary spirits.

Many absinthe experts believe that the spirit was banned because it was popular among the bohemian culture of artists and writers, including Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde and Aleister Crowley.

The revival absinthe began in the 1990s and today, more than 200 brands of absinthe are produced.

The SoFAB absinthe celebration includes the following events.

Absinthe Visions: The Photography of Damian Hevia

Opens Saturday, July 17, 2010

Seminar – The History of Absinthe

2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ted Breaux, a native New Orleanian, is the person credited with bringing the American ban on absinthe to an end. He will tell how he did this, and he will discuss the history of the Green Fairy.

Seminar – The History of Herbsaint

2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jay Hendrickson is an expert on Herbsaint, the main substitute for absinthe that continues to be produced in New Orleans to this day. He will explain all things Herbsaint and how the history of the spirit is linked to the Crescent City. He also will discuss Herbsaint as it relates to the history of absinthe.

Seminar – Absinthe in Art and Literature

2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 21, 2010

Todd Price, the author of a weekly Times Picayune alcohol column, discusses the cultural significance of absinthe and how it ties New Orleans not just to France but also to other European countries. He will examine absinthe as it is portrayed in art and literature, and how absinthe’s mystery transferred to the new continent.

Seminar – The Long Legal History of the Green Fairy

2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 28, 2010

Liz Williams, a native New Orleanian and founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, is a lawyer who writes about the legal aspects of food, reflecting culture, policy and economics. She is currently working on a book about obesity lawsuits and other food-related litigation in the U.S. She will discuss the legal history of absinthe, how it became banned, and how the ban was eventually lifted.

Each lecture will be followed by an absinthe tasting/demonstration. All attendees must be of legal drinking age.

Each lecture is $10 for members; $15 for nonmembers.

For more information, contact the museum at 504-569-0405.

Interested in Collecting Old Cocktail Shakers?

July 6, 2010

Seminar on Bar Ware Collecting Occurs on Wednesday, July 21

By Chris Smith

“The History of Bar Tools and Barware from the 1800s to Today” will occur from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 21 at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in Riverwalk Marketplace.

The event is sponsored by Tales of the Cocktail in conjunction with SoFAB and the Museum of the American Cocktail, which is located inside SoFAB.

Author and collector Jim Walker will moderate a panel which includes collectors Mark Bigler and Dale DeGroff, Greg Boehm and Michael Silvers. It is sponsored by Mud Puddle Books.

Jim Walker began to collect cocktail shakers and barware in 1995, though he originally just wanted a cocktail shaker to make his own dirty Martinis. He asked a friend and antique dealer if she could find one. After she invited him to see her art deco collection of shakers, he said “It was all over.”

His collection started with recipe cocktail shakers and expanded to all forms of shakers and barware. With more than 500 shakers, more than 100 martini glasses, and hundreds of pieces of bar ware, he says “there is not a flat surface in my house that does not have a cocktail shaker or piece of barware on it.”

Mark Bigler is a contributor to the Museum of the American Cocktail and artifacts from his collection have been displayed in museums in the United States. He has served as a source of cocktail information for feature articles including Forbes, Life, Bon Appetit, Country Living and Stuff Magazine. Collecting information appears on his website:

Greg Boehm is the owner of Mud Puddle Books and, a site for the purchase of high quality barware, books and bitters. The Mud Puddle publishing program ranges from authentic reproductions of the great vintage cocktail books to modern titles. His office in New York City is open by appointment; it serves as a working research library and also houses his collection of his antique barware and spirits.

Dale DeGroff is a founding partner of Beverage Alcohol Resource, a partnership of six spirits and cocktails authorities who provide training and credentialing in distilled spirits and mixology. His industry awards include: the 2009 James Beard Wine & Spirits Professional Award; the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from Nightclub & Bar Magazine; 2008 TOTC Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award; and the 2007 Cheers Beverage Industry Innovator of the Year with his partners, for Beverage Alcohol Resource.

Michael Silvers is the founder of uberbartools™. Following a traditional university business education in Sydney, Australia, Silvers parlayed 25 years of consumer and retail product experience and applied these to his specialist design and manufacturing company ProDesign. Silvers says he is constantly bending the rules of the possible by creating imaginative bar tools that “can and do make a difference.”

For more information about the seminar contact SoFAB at 504-569-0405 or

For more information about the Museum of the American Cocktail, visit

For more information about Tales of the Cocktail, visit

Event Spotlight: Drink Well Do Good

April 1, 2010

by Kelsey Parris

The International Society of Africans in Wine (ISAW) is a non-profit organization devoted to creating equal opportunities for blacks in the wine industry of South Africa. There is a major discrepancy between the number of blacks employed in South African vineyards and the number of black-owned vineyards, and ISAW is trying to change those numbers.

Currently, over ninety percent of the 300,000 viticulture employees are black, but there are only two vineyards owned by black families. The plan of the ISAW is to raise funds to establish a viticulture training school at M’Hudi winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa that would allow the workers to learn to run their own wineries. The ISAW would then invest and support black-owned wine businesses, and through the foundation would encourage the participation of blacks in the South African economy.

Stephen Satterfield, the founder of the organization, is determined to find common ground and equality through the business of wine. South African wines are becoming more and more popular internationally, and Satterfield sees this as the time to “commit to improving the quality of life for those who’ve worked to produce it.” In order to drum up support and awareness of the organization and the mission to help South Africans, Satterfield has organized a 16 city tour that goes throughout the United States, makes its way up to Vancouver before ending, appropriately, in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Drink Well, Do Good Tour is our chance to help make the viticulture training grounds a reality for Satterfield and the ISAW. We at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum are excited and honored to host the launch party for the 2010 tour on Sunday, April 4, from 4 to 7 PM. Not only will there be an incredible amount of South African wine to sample and enjoy, but there will also be a selection of delicious food, with a Southern soul spread from Dooky Chase, a West African platter from Bennachin’s, and decadent bread pudding from the Court of Two Sisters.

Don’t forget to go out the night before the party to see Kora Konnection, a wonderful New Orleans-based band that blends the best of West African Mandinka music with the playfulness of New Orleans Jazz improv. Their show is guaranteed to get you in the right frame of mind to support African ventures.

Tickets for both the launch party and the Kora Konnection show are available at, and all proceeds from the events go towards the ISAW Foundation for the development of a viticultural training center on the M’hudi Estate in South Africa. Go to for more information on the Foundation. We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Around the Table: Photos of the DamGoodSweet Signing + Party with David Guas

December 15, 2009

On December 6, 2009, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum was honored to host the book release party and first signing of Chef David Guas’ Dam Good Sweet: Recipes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, New Orleans Style. For more information for events at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, visit our website, Visit the events page and sign up for our newsletter.

Little boxes of sweet treats and a bar full of Cava await guests

Guests Check out the New Book; (l to r) Virginia Medinilla, A. Murat Eren, Duygu Ozpolat Eren

Cane Syrup Snaps

Cava, Nectar Soda, and Coffee Accompany the Desserts; (in this photo) SoFAB Board Member Butler Burdine

Chocolate Pralines

Guests Arrived Early to Get Their Books Signed

David Guas (left) and SoFAB Director Liz Williams

Guests Enjoying DamGoodSweets

Simone Rathle (left)

Mini Red Velvet Cake Cupcakes

Liz Williams (left) and writer Anne Mirin Berry

Guests at the DamGoodSweet Release and Signing Party

Sweet Potato Pie and Cake Results

November 12, 2009

On Saturday, November 7, 2009, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum held its first cooking contest, Their Eyes Were Watching Sweet Potatoes.  Sweet potatoes, often confused with yams, are from the New World, while pies originated in the Old World.  Sweet potatoes were once considered exotic and precious by European royalty and the pies and cakes from this past Saturday would have surely brought them to their knees.
The 2009 winners are…(photos by David Gallent)

614823Sweet Potato Pie Category

Sweet Potato Pie in a Bread Pudding Style
Wendy Waren and Drue Deshotels
New Orleans, Louisiana



614834Sweet Potato Cake Category

Sweet Potato Rum Cake
Gwen Cashio
Destrehan, Louisiana



614813Youth Category

Sweet Potato Flan Cake
Seth Osborne, aka “Chef Seth”
Gretna, Louisiana

The judges for the contests were Mary Gallant, representing the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission; Dale Irwin, Country Roads Magazine; and Betty Ruth Speir, retired physician and cookbook author.

Due to its success, the contest will be conducted again next year, though it will be expanded to accommodate new ideas and strategies.

For more information on events at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, please visit