What could make TCL’s newly opened Culinary Institute of the South even better? A food museum of course.
That’s just what’s in the works. The Foodseum — an interactive museum experience dedicated to Southern food — is currently in development and set to open in late 2022 onsite at the institute in Bluffton.
While students are working toward degrees and credentials, community members and visitors will be able to explore and increase their understanding, appreciation and first-hand knowledge of Southern food and its unique history and culture.
The Foodseum will showcase immersive educational exhibits ranging from an interactive food growth map to a photographic collection of quintessential Southern dishes along with a look into their origins and ingredients.
A broad collection of artifacts from old flour sacks to farming tools will be on display. Photographs and video profiles will feature Southern chefs and their favorite foods. Rotating themes will feature Gullah, Geechee, local seafood, farm to table and more.
Though its physical footprint is only about 1,200 square-feet, programming like tasting events, guest chef lectures, and other hands-on seminars will expand the experience.
TCL has enlisted the help of a number of local and national experts to ensure the museum is engaging, educational and fun for all ages. For example, Jonathan Haupt, executive director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort, and Charlie Clark, vice president for marketing for the Hilton Head Island– Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, are active members of the advisory committee.
In addition, curatorial advisors Liz Williams, founder of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans, La., and chef and scholar Kevin Mitchell of Charleston, have been hard at work guiding the development and collection of authentic and accurate content.
Other community members are also helping to ensure a unique experience. The Sun City Hilton Head Woodworkers Guild is constructing the centerpiece table of the Foodseum.
Just as the dinner table has been the heart of conversations among families and friends, this 12-foot long by 3.5-foot wide table will invite gathering and discussion around Southern food and history. In fact, each end of the table will be fashioned to resemble rice gates like those used in cultivation centuries ago.
The Foodseum will also feature art by Amiri Farris of Bluffton, whose bold, powerful work centers around “a celebration of history” and focuses on Gullah Geechee cultural elements like the land, storytelling and other artistic traditions.
While the Culinary Institute of the South’s graduates will directly support the Lowcountry’s travel and tourism industry, the Foodseum will become its own destination.
That’s what we call the perfect pairing.
Chef and scholar Kevin Mitchell was a 2020–2021 South Carolina Chef Ambassador. In addition, he is a cookbook author and lecturer. He also serves as an instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College and holds two degrees from the Culinary Institute of America.
“The Foodseum is important because it will be a place for visitors to become totally engulfed in all things Southern food. Patrons will be able to see and savor what makes Southern food one of the most important cuisines on the planet.”
Liz Williams, Southern food author and scholar, was born and raised in New Orleans, La. She is a founder of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum and President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation. Much of her research and writing centers on issues related to the culture of food and drink in New Orleans. She also writes and consults about food museums.
“The Foodseum is an exciting project for many reasons, but one important one is the emphasis on local food culture and its history, which will create great and knowledgeable chefs who will be assets to the region.”