A focal point of the new home of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum is the Gallery of the South: States of Taste, a collection of exhibits on the food and foodways of each Southern state. The exhibits, created by a group of curators from each state, explore and celebrate the food items, recipes, people, brands, dishes, agriculture, industry, cooking techniques, and everything else that is woven together to create the quintessential food geography of each state. The exhibits are both historical and modern, revealing what makes each state’s food and culture of eating unique. In addition the exhibits celebrate the food traditions we all share to create a distinct regional food culture that can be so clearly described as “Southern”.
The Leah Chase Louisiana Gallery explores the cuisine of Louisiana and New Orleans is multi-layered, combining the contributions of different ethnic groups, the local food supply and the passage of time. This exhibit explains the development of this cuisine, the iconic foods and beverages, foodways and identifying dishes. In this gallery we'll consider the process of making and enjoying sugar, explore the culture of coffee drinking, and catch a glimpse of the history and heritage behind the famous restaurants of the city.
Visitors can travel a walking highway through the Gallery of the South, moving through each state exhibit organically. Signs for each of the states, commissioned by popular New Orleans folk artist, Dr. Bob, mark the movement from one state to the next. Dr. Bob has become a treasured favorite among New Orleans locals for his “Be Nice or Leave” signs seen all over New Orleans in restaurants and bars and he brings that same style to the signs for the exhibits. His pieces for SoFAB celebrate the food of each state.
In keeping with the museum’s mission, SoFAB assembled a diverse group from all over the South to curate these exhibits. Ranging from food writers, historians and researchers to chefs, bloggers, and business owners each curator brings a unique perspective to their exhibit. Many thanks to the following for their invaluable help in getting these exhibits together:
- Cynthia Bertelsen, Co-Curator: Virginia
- Stephanie Jane Carter, Curator: Texas
- Tommy Centola, Curator: Arkansas
- Nancy Carter Crump, Co-Curator: Virginia
- Jack Carrel, Curator: Mississippi
- Sarah Fouts, Curator: Kentucky
- Cassandra Gaines, Curator: Oklahoma and Soul Food
- Maria Grenchik, Co-Curator: Maryland
- Seth Hamstead, Curator: West Virginia
- Carole Kotkin, Archival Committee Chair: Florida
- Clara Lyle, Curator and Research Assistant
- Tammie Merrill, Curator: North Carolina
- Chanda M. Nunez, Curator: Georgia
- MM Pack, Curator: Texas
- Kat Robinson, Curator: Arkansas
- Kathleen Weldon, Curator: Oklahoma
- Joyce White, Curator: Maryland