2015 Promises Exciting Exhibits, Interactive Southern Restaurant Purloo, and Premiere of Museum of the American Cocktail

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In September 2014, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) opened in its new location at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard in New Orleans. Heralded as one of the nation’s leading institutions studying food and drink, the SoFAB Institute celebrates the history of cuisine and cocktails through a variety of exhibits, programming and a range of multimedia. 2015 promises to be a major year for the institute with the opening of Purloo – Chef Ryan Hughes’ living exhibit and restaurant celebrating the flavors and culinary traditions of the South; the highly-anticipated reopening of the Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) and the unveiling of spectacular new exhibits including La Galerie d’Absinthe and Antoine’s 175th Anniversary.

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According to SoFAB President Liz Williams, “Now that we’re settling into our new home, we’ve got some amazing things in store for the coming year including an interactive restaurant, great chef demos in our test kitchen and some really incredible events.”

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First up is Purloo, opening to the public in January 2015. Named for the Lowcountry traditional dish of a baked pot of rice and whatever else is on-hand, the 70-seat exhibition kitchen and restaurant will give diners an in-depth look at and taste of Southern regional fare. Helmed by chef/partner Ryan Hughes, who has earned critical acclaim for his Southern cooking with French savvy at some of New Orleans’ most acclaimed restaurants including Brennan’s, Emeril’s Delmonico, Café Degas, Bayona, and more, Purloo will serve as a place to both eat and learn.

“Our team will engage with our diners as we cook and answer questions about the heritage behind each dish and where the ingredients come from. We’re there to not only provide a great meal, but also an educational experience,” says Hughes.

The menu will feature traditional dishes from the South, executed with a modern twist and include standouts like Lowcountry style she-crab soup garnished with aged Madiera; burgoo of smoked lamb leg with crowder peas and okra, braised red mustard greens, and house cornbread; local oysters with Satsuma and peppergrass mignonette and Harper Lee’s Alabama Lane Cake. In addition to the regular menu, diners can expect 8-10 weekly specials highlighting a different Southern State. For these specialty menus, Hughes will procure products, foodways and dig up authentic recipes while putting his own unique spin on that dish. Initial states include Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia. Guests can also enjoy both traditional and creative Southern cocktails under bar curator Mark Schettler at the expansive historic bar – built in 1851 for the West End Hotel which later moved to Bruning’s Restaurant and is possibly the oldest bar in New Orleans. At Purloo, many of the southern specialties, both food and drink, will be available in sample sizes to purchase for eating and drinking while visiting SoFAB for the ultimate interactive experience.

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On February 5th, SoFAB will reopen the Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) – an impressive collection of artifacts that tell the story of the cocktail. Founded by Dale DeGroff, and several of the world’s most passionate cocktail authorities and historians, MOTAC seeks to advance the profession and increase consumer knowledge of mixology while stressing the importance of responsible drinking. MOTAC celebrates and preserves this rich aspect of American culture, while providing educational resources for professionals and the public. MOTAC strives to teach the fine art of crafting cocktails through a series of mixology seminars conducted by the world’s foremost authorities on cocktail history and American cocktails. Guests can also expect special exhibits about modern spirits to pop up in the museum throughout the year.

Upcoming/Noteworthy Exhibits and Events

In January 2015, a special exhibit will open to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Antoine’s – the oldest continuously operating restaurant still run by the founding family in the United States. The exhibit, which will run through June 2015, will feature portraits, artifacts and stories about the venerable restaurant. A feature of this exhibit is the Amnesty Program. Diners who visited Antoine’s over the years and “accidentally” took mementos are encouraged to bring back those items, along with the story, for display in the museum.

La Galerie d’Absinthe will open to the public in late February 2015 and celebrate the history of the iconic spirit of ‘la vie boheme’ of the 19th century. Because of its close ties to Paris, New Orleans was the absinthe drinking capital of America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The permanent exhibit will feature a life size diorama of the Old Absinthe House Bar circa 1895, curated and constructed by absinthe scholar brothers Ray and B.J. Bordelon.

Throughout the year, SoFAB will spotlight select southern states beginning in March, 2015 with Mississippi Month. Visitors with a Mississippi ID will receive 50% discount on admission throughout the month and guests can expect an array of programming spotlighting the state, including chef demos, lectures and more.

Each Wednesday throughout the year at 2:30 p.m., SoFAB and New Orleans’ famed French Market team up to present Made from the Market – a series of free programs that highlight the cuisine and culinary culture of New Orleans. Visitors can expect to see cooking demos from award-winning chefs; join in dynamic food conversations with experts, and enjoy musical entertainment at the French Market Fare stage in the Farmer’s Market between Ursulines and Governor Nicholls Streets. On Sundays at 2:00 p.m. March through November, French Market visitors can also enjoy French Market Fare featuring New Orleans-centric culinary events, lectures and cooking demonstrations.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is located at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard in the renovated Dryades food market, which first opened in New Orleans in 1847. The museum is open Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $10.00 for adults; $5.00 for students and seniors. Children under 12 are free (with an adult). For further information about the museum, Purloo or upcoming exhibits, please call 504-569-0405 or visit www.southernfood.org.