Rather than cut a ribbon, the south’s premier culinary archive opened its doors for the first time Oct. 6 with a ceremonial breaking of a six-foot loaf of Leidenheimer French bread.
The Southern Food & Beverage (SoFAB) Research Center is now open to the public on the second floor of the Nunez Library on Nunez Community College’s Chalmette campus. The archive includes more than 40,000 culinary books, thousands of menus and pamphlets, and hundreds of archived artifacts. The SoFAB collection and catalog can be viewed in person or online at both nunez.edu and SoFAB’s website, southernfood.org.
The opening ceremony on Oct. 6 included comments from Nunez Chancellor Dr. Tina Tinney, SoFAB President and CEO Brent Rosen, St. Bernard President Guy McInnis, and a couple of very special guests: Food Columnist Bonnie Tandy Leblang of New York who has contributed the largest number of books and ephemera to the SoFAB Research Center’s Boyd Library, and Robert Romero, Honorary Consul of the Philippines.
Romero and a delegation of Filipino guests, along with Nunez culinary alum, chef and Filipino native Roni Dacula, were on hand to recognize the opening of the SoFAB Research Center’s inaugural exhibit: ‘The First Settlement: Filipinos in Louisiana,’ which will run through October 2023.
The SoFAB website, southernfood.org, describes the public exhibit: “The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is partnering with the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of the Philippines and the Philippine-Louisiana Historical Society to create an exhibit that highlights Louisiana’s Filipino community and the impact Filipinos have had on our shared culture. The first settlement of Filipinos in the United States was in St. Bernard Parish only a few miles from the SoFAB Research Center at Nunez Community College. Visitors will be able to see the Filipino Exhibit and then travel further into St. Bernard Parish to learn more about the history of Filipinos in Louisiana.”
The partnership between SoFAB and Nunez creates a permanent home for the texts and artifacts that SoFAB Founder and curator Liz Williams has collected and had donated in her decades of culinary research. Nunez not only provides a location in close proximity to the nation’s top culinary destination, New Orleans, but also a built-in user base in Nunez’s Culinary Arts and Entrepreneurship program.
While the SoFAB materials will certainly be a boon for Nunez’s Culinary students and faculty, it will provide endless resources to the community as the Research Center is open to the public.
“With thanks to all of the culinarians, book collectors, and visionaries for their donations, we are excited to partner with Nunez Community College to create a Research Center for the entire local community where food is so important to culture, but that can also serve a larger audience through its online presence. We look forward to continuing to expand our friendships and deepen our collection,” said Liz Williams, founder of the SoFAB Museum and curator of the SoFAB Research Center collection.
Nunez Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement Katherine Lemoine said the addition of the SoFAB Research Center, along with future educational endeavors like the Isleños Museum and the Voyage Mark II Scale Model Solar System, all further establish Nunez’s function as a “destination for learning.”
“The SoFAB project is providing an incredible resource for our region,” said Lemoine. “Collections like this help to preserve our regional identity by documenting thousands of individual contributions to our collective culture.”
The Southern Food & Beverage Museum was founded in 2004 by Elizabeth Williams, who wanted a place where the intersection between culture and food could be studied. As a New Orleans nonprofit educational and cultural organization, SoFAB is dedicated to the discovery, understanding, and celebration of food, drink and its related culture and folklife in America and the world.
About Nunez Community College
Nunez Community College is a student-centered institution that delivers relevant and innovative curriculum integrating the arts, sciences, and humanities leading to academic credentials and workforce opportunities. Nunez serves a vital role in the community by engaging with partners to support student success and personal growth. Nunez Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas. Nunez is located at 3710 Paris Road, Chalmette, LA. For more information, visit www.nunez.edu.