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Southern Food and Beverage Museum

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In 2004, Liz Williams found t there was a gaping hole in the museums of New Orleans.  Although New Orleans has so much culture centered around food, there was no corresponding museum. Thus, the idea was conceived. Williams became co-founder and director of the nonprofit Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFaB). It provides an engaging journey into the history of Louisiana and other southern states.

The SoFaB Museum first opened at the Riverwalk in 2008, before securing their current space on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. Director of Operations and Associate Director Kelsey Parris said the museum’s space was originally a food distribution center for the neighborhood.  They kept the flooring tiles, among other things, to preserve the spirit of the original building..   

The SoFaB boasts 16 different state displays and an exhibit history of cocktails. Each state exhibit has the unique signature items of their state, from the food to their original packagings. Cool facts about the nosh and its cultural context are included. The changing state laws and the effects of prohibition are also displayed. The museum reveals threads that connect every state, such as barbecue — because what Southern state doesn’t have their own barbecue tradition? There’s also an absinthe gallery that houses a wide collection of historical paraphernalia.

These exhibits are constantly updated by workers or visitors. Some exhibits, like a Red Beans exhibit, ask guests to share their own secret recipe ingredients. Each exhibit is decorated with personal touches and items from families all over the South, giving the items a connection to the audience that isn’t always available at other museums.

SoFab also offers internships. Williams urges anyone who is interested to get in contact with her or go onto their website.

“We love being able to provide opportunities to the students in the community,” said Williams. “It’s hard to get experience in museums.”  

SoFAB is a pillar of the community, providing learning opportunities, biweekly cooking classes and demonstrations, and renting out their professional kitchen to local entrepreneurs.  Places like these that give New Orleans a special something.  

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Southern Food and Beverage Museum