The National Culinary Heritage Register is an expansive list of culinary products, processes, inventions, traditions, and establishments that are at least fifty years old and have contributed significantly to the development of American foodways. The first and only register of its kind, the Culinary Heritage Register is an initiative designed to explore and preserve the complex history of food and beverage in America.
Food and beverage practices not only play a major role in America’s cultural identity, but they also offer valuable insights into the country’s past and present environment, economy, and social structures. Thus, understanding when, where, and how American food and beverage practices have developed allows for a more complete understanding of America’s culture and history. Mapping the origins and development of America’s complex culinary traditions is a daunting task, and as of yet, there has been no concerted effort to do so. By creating the National Culinary Heritage Register, the National Food & Beverage Foundation hopes to begin the important process of recording America’s extensive and flavorful foodways.
Interested in learning more about the Register? Check our frequently asked questions here for more information.
On the Register
Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans, LA
Antoine's restaurant is the oldest family-owned, continuously operating business in the United States. Antoine's originally opened in 1840, and has numerous claims to fame, including creating Oysters Rockefeller and inventing the word 'appetizer.'
Aunt Sally's Pralines in New Orleans, LA
Aunt Sally’s Pralines specializes in creating delicious, hand poured Creole pralines. Aunt Sally’s family tree is based in the New Orleans’ French Creole community. Husband and wife Pierre E. Bagur and Diane Jacques, along with the help of their four children, launched the business in 1935 that evolved into the brand, retail stores, and mail order and wholesale divisions people love and know today. The business today is in its 3rd and 4th generation of family ownership. Part of what makes Aunt Sally’s so special is the closely guarded recipe for pralines, passed down through four generations of the family, and the dedication of the praline makers, who bring their skill and artistry to every batch of hand poured pralines.
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL
In 1925, Bob Gibson served BBQ from a makeshift table made of oak planks nailed to a large sycamore tree in his backyard. With that, Big Bob Gibson started the restaurant that has lasted over ninety years and five generations. Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q is credited with creating the White BBQ sauce. Big Bob Gibson’s white sauce has created its own unique region of BBQ in Northern Alabama, and it is now known throughout the BBQ world.
Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous in Memphis, TN
The Rendezvous is one of the oldest bbq restaurants under continuous family ownership. In 1948, Charlie Vergos found an old coal chute in his basement and started grilling meats. He began grilling loin back ribs with Greek seasonings, and after being inspired in a trip to New Orleans, he combined the Greek seasonings with Cajun spices. He created the original “dry rub” and invented what people now refer to as Memphis-style dry ribs.
Craig Claiborne’s House in Indianola, MS
Craig Claiborne, the legendary food journalist, was born in Sunflower, Mississippi on September 4, 1920. After the price of cotton crashed, his family relocated to the nearby town of Indianola. Kathleen Claiborne, his mother, opened a boarding house there. Craig spoke of the kitchen in the boarding house as his “playground.” In 2014, Craig Claiborne was recognized with a Mississippi historical marker, which stands in front of the boarding house where he first discovered his love of food.
Dominick's Restaurant in West Hollywood, CA
The original Dominick's restaurant and bar, established in 1948, was a favored watering hole for Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Only friends of friends were able to drink and dine in this exclusive Hollywood hideout. Now in the hands of Warner Ebbink and Chef Brandon Boudet who also own Little Dom's and the 101 Coffee Shop, Dominick's returns to that original feel.
Falcon Rice Mill in Crowley, LA
The Falcon family of Crowley, Louisiana is proud to provide the superior quality of rice found in each bag of Cajun Country Rice. In 1942, the Falcon family began its seed rice business. Edward and Evelyn Falcon would purchase rough rice from area farmers in the Fall. They then cleaned, treated, and resold it for seed just in time for Spring planting. A milling operation was installed in 1950, and soon Falcon Rice Mill began selling rice under the names Ed’s, Randy’s, and Falcon rice. Later, other brands were developed to include our popular Cajun Country brand of long, medium, whole grain brown, jasmine and popcorn rice.
The French Market in New Orleans, LA
The iconic French Market in the French Quarter of New Orleans is America's oldest continually operating public market. What began as a Native American trading post on the banks of the mighty, muddy Mississippi River on the site chosen for the City by the French, has become a cultural, commercial and entertainment treasure which the Crescent City proudly shares with the world. Today, America’s oldest public market has assumed a leading role in the local economy as well, providing consistently increasing revenues for city government while putting millions of dollars back into the local economy.
Johnny’s Café in Omaha, NE
Johnny's Café is a family-owned restaurant that has been continuously operating since 1922. It began as a small saloon selling sandwiches and expanded and grew as dining needs evolved. It has survived prohibition, war, and countless economic upturns and downturns.
Laird & Company in Scobeyville, NJ
Founded in 1780, Laird & Company first and foremost is the distiller of Laird’s Applejack, and more recently an importer of wines and spirits. Although the company’s first official record of sale dates back to Robert Laird’s account book of operations in 1780, the Laird family had been distilling applejack since the late 1600’s. The Laird family is recognized as the oldest American family of distillers and as distillers of applejack, the nation’s oldest native distilled spirit. Today the company is run by the eighth and ninth generations of the Laird family.
Leah’s Pralines in New Orleans, LA
Originally named Cook’s Confections after its owner Cecil Cook, the shop opened in New Orleans in 1933. In 1944, Cook sold his praline company to Leah Johnson, and it became known as Leah’s Southern Confections and eventually Leah’s Pralines. Leah’s niece, Elna Stokes, is the present day proprietor, and she runs the shop with her daughter Suzie. Leah’s Pralines is the oldest, continually operating, family-owned praline shop in New Orleans. Since 1944, it has upheld the legacy of quality that it was built on, dedicated to preserving the original recipes and always using fresh ingredients.
McGinnis Sisters Special Food Stores in Pittsburgh, PA.
The store was opened by Elwood and Rosella McGinnis as a small produce stand in Baldwin Borough on Christmas Eve in 1946. During the next 30 years, the store developed into a well-known award winning grocery store, with high standards for quality, competitive pricing and excellent service. The McGinnis family now operates three stores throughout the Pittsburgh area with two generations of family members working in the business. McGinnis Sisters remains an avid supporter of local family farms and locally produced artisan products.
NATCO in Reserve, LA
NATCO Food Service, celebrating their 90th anniversary in 2015, is headquartered right here in Southeast Louisiana. Ninety years ago, Nicholas Lalla, a New Orleans butcher, started out providing quality meats and services directly from his horse drawn carriage to French Quarter friends and neighbors. As business grew, he opened a grocery store on Magazine Street. Nicholas earned his customer’s trust, as well as local chefs, building the foundation for what is today one of the largest beef distributors in Louisiana. NATCO has grown to a 90,000 square foot facility located in Reserve, Louisiana.
Otterbein’s Cookies in Windsor Mill, MD
The people of Baltimore have been enjoying Otterbein’s since 1881, when Adam Otterbein arrived from Germany and opened a small bakery near Fort McHenry. His thin sugar cookies, cut by hand, were what propelled his modest bakery to success. Although new cookies have been developed along the way, the recipe for the original sugar cookies is still used today, and Otterbein’s remains a staple in the Baltimore community.
Phillips Grocery in Holly Springs, MS
The original Phillips Grocery has its home in a famous building in Holly Springs that operated as a saloon until prohibition. The restaurant has been in operation since 1948. Their world-renowned hamburgers have been featured on Hamburger America, and USA Today voted their burger one of the world’s greatest.
Robert is Here in Homestead, FL
Since 1959 Robert has been selling fruits and vegetables on the side of the road leading to the Everglades National Park, and the stand has expanded to offer rare and exotic tropical fruits as well as fresh fruit milkshakes.
Tam O'Shanter in Los Angeles, CA
Delighting diners for 90 years, the Tam O'Shanter is Los Angeles' oldest restaurant operated by the same family in the same location. Enjoy good cheer, warm hospitality and exceptional food in a cozy old world atmosphere. If you have some Scottish ancestry, you might even find your family tartan among the extensive collection decorating the walls!
Tujague's in New Orleans, LA
Tujague’s is New Orleans’ second oldest dining institution and home to the oldest stand-up bar in America. As one could imagine, the Tujague’s story is steeped in foodie lore – replete with ghost stories, butchers’ tales and presidential visits. When the restaurant opened adjacent to New Orleans’ first public market in 1856, local workers came daily to enjoy a mid-day “butcher’s breakfast” now known as the international tradition of brunch. Trademark dishes from the earliest days included Spicy Shrimp Remoulade and Boiled Beef Brisket, and later the famed Chicken Bonne Femme. Cocktails are equally important to Tujague’s history; both the Grasshopper and Whiskey Punch were created behind the stand-up bar. The guest book at Tujague’s has included Presidents – Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and France’s De Gaulle – as well as such notables as Cole Porter, O. Henry, Diane Sawyer, Don Johnson, Harrison Ford, Margot Kidder, Dan Akroyd, Ty Cobb, John D. Rockefeller and many others.
Weidmann’s in Meridian, MS
Weidmann’s was established in 1870 by Swiss immigrant Felix Weidmann. The restaurant is a repository of Meridian history and shows the culinary legacy of southern cuisine coupled with northern European influences. Weidmann’s has been a major part of the East Mississippi and West Alabama culinary landscape for almost 150 years.
Wintzell's Oyster House in Mobile, AL
Known far and wide for its "oysters—fried, stewed or nude," Wintzell's Oyster House first opened its doors in 1938 when local personage J. Oliver Wintzell affixed his family's name to what was then a small, six-stool oyster bar in Mobile, Alabama. Although the Wintzell's family sold the restaurant in the 1980s, the original location on Dauphin Street today celebrates its 77th year. And much like its early days, the restaurant remains a family business, now with three generations of family members weighing in on matters from menu development to marketing to everything in-between.
Apply to the National Culinary Heritage Register
Unlike the National Register of Historic Places, the National Culinary Heritage Register does not focus on built environment. Rather, the Register acknowledges any significant culinary product, process, invention, tradition, and establishment at least 50 years old that may or may not be associated with exact physical sites. The Register includes:
- Subjects that may be associated with a specific building or property, such as continuously operating restaurants, stores, factories, mills, farms, distilleries,
- Subjects, such as culinary inventions, processes, and traditions, that may be attached to a geographical location, like a city or region, but not a specific physical site.
- Establishments, like restaurants, stores, factories, etc., that no longer exist but were of particular historical significance to America’s food and beverage culture.
You can apply for your own business or entity, or you can apply on behalf of a location or entity you believe qualifies for the register. Fill out the application here. Please use the PayPal button to pay your application fee of $45 for SoFAB to consider your application to the National Culinary Heritage Register. You can also mail a check for $45 to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum (1609 Oretha C. Haley Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70113) or call 504-267-7490 if you would like to pay via credit card. Your application will be considered after SoFAB has received all materials, including the application fee. Learn more about the National Culinary Heritage Register requirements here.