Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chef Marcus Samuelsson visits JWU

This week at JWU, Chef Marcus Samuelsson was honored as the University's 158th Distinguished Visiting Chef.  He paid a visit to the Culinary Arts Museum on Monday, December 7th, and spent about an hour here.  The chef had many questions for our director, Richard J.S. Gutman, about saloon, tavern, and diner culture, but he also showed a genuine enthusiasm for the students' work that is showcased here at the museum.  On Tuesday December 8th, Samuelsson presented a cooking demonstration in the Amphitheater at the Harborside Academic Center.  Lasting two hours, the demo was much more rousing than purely instructive -- "Chop this, measure this, stir this."  While he was cooking, he shared his story: where he grew up, where he studied, where he's traveled, what he's eaten, and most importantly, what he's learned from these experiences. 

Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, Samuelsson was drawn to the kitchen at a young age by spending time with his grandmother, who was a professional chef.  Samuelsson is a true inspiration, not only because of his level of success, but because of his sincere passion for food: eating it, cooking it, learning and teaching others through it.  When he meets people, he asks them about their food stories, their dreams and their journeys.  These stories are important to him as a means of understanding the cultural experience of these individuals and they are a source of inspiration in his work.  Samuelsson thereby gains his knowledge and awareness of global culture through the palette.

Known for bringing disparate flavors together on one plate, Samuelsson continually learns from others about experimenting with cross-cultural ingredients.  For example, while working on a cruise ship alongside chefs from the Philippines, the chefs there taught him that he could add coconut milk to collard greens in order to sweeten them and make them creamy.  As a chef of African origins, one of his goals is to bring modern African food to Americans, just as Nobu did for Japanese cuisine.  He wants to inspire those who eat his food to learn about culture through food, and to then perhaps gain an understanding and tolerance of the unfamiliar.

Samuelsson graduated from the Culinary Institute in Goteborg.  He apprenticed in Switzerland, Austria, France and the US, and in 1995, at the age of 24, he was made the executive chef of Aquavit in Manhattan.  Only three months later, the restaurant received a three-star review from The New York Times. Samuelsson was named 'Rising Star Chef' in 1999 and 'Best Chef, New York' in 2003 by the James Beard Foundation.  The Culinary Institute of America also honored him as one of 'The Great Chefs of America.'

In addition to being the executive chef at Aquavit, he is the co-founder and chief creative director of Townhouse Restaurant Group, a restaurant management and consulting company with projects in the US and Europe.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a non-profit organization that provides inner-city high school students with training, scholarships and jobs in the restaurant and food service industry and is an ambassador for the US Fund for UNICEF.  In 2007, he became the first chef to collarborate with Starbucks Coffee, delivering bakery items and coffee blends.

Chef Samuelsson is also the author of several successful cookbooks, including Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine (2003), Aquavit c/o New York (2004), En Smakresa med Marcus Samuelsson (2002), Street Food (2004), and The Soul of a New Cuisine - Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa (2006) which received accolades from publications such as The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post.  It was also awarded 'Best International Cookbook' by the James Beard Foundation in 2007.  His latest cookbook, New American Table was released in October of 2009.

In 2005, Samuelsson was appointed Visiting Professor of International Culinary Science at the Umea University School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts in Sweden, and he received an honorary degree from Johnson & Wales University as Doctor of Culinary Arts in 2006.  Most recently, aside from being named Distinguished Visiting Chef at JWU, he was invited by the Obama family to join White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford in the kitchen for the State Dinner on November 24, 2009.

This is the plate of food that everyone in attendance got to taste:
Fried Yellowtail Poke with Wasabi Rouille and a Miso Ginger Vinaigrette

Here we see Baking and Pastry student Hedeline Benjamin of St. Albans, NY 
learning how to filet a fish.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

CAM Director and Curator, Richard J.S. Gutman accepts award on behalf of hall-of-famer Walter Scott

The Rhode Island entrepreneur was inducted into the RI Heritage Hall of Fame on November 15, 2009. 

In 1852, at the age of 11, Rhode Island native Walter Scott got his start in the food business in Providence.  He peddled newspapers, fruit, and homemade candy as a means of supporting his family.  After some time, Scott realized that late-night newspaper workers had nowhere to go out to eat after their shifts, and so he began to sell sandwiches and coffee to these men and other night owls.

Eventually, Scott built himself a hand cart so that he could carry more items with him.  In 1872, Scott replaced his hand cart with a horse hooked up to a small freight wagon and parked it in front of the Providence Journal office.

Only homemade items were served from the cart: sliced chicken, ham sandwiches, boiled eggs and buttered bread, and pie.  And yes, Scott did bake his own bread and pie.  Except for the chicken, which cost thirty cents, customers could get anything on the menu for a nickel.

Now, if you've ever been out on the streets of Providence (or any city street for that matter) between dusk and four AM, you'll know that you are guaranteed to encounter some unruly folk.  Things were not so different in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Scott came up with a plan to ensure that he was paid for every meal he served: if a suspicious-looking individual approached, he would take their hat as collateral for payment.  In addition, he kept a hickory club in the wagon "in case of emergency."  As a result, his slogan became: "Get a hat, or give a sore head."  He did amass quite the collection of stolen hats, all the result of unpaid bills.

As other businessmen caught on to Scott's lunch cart idea, his profits dwindled as food costs rose.  Additionally, his competitors started offering free fixings such as onion slices, ketchup and mustard, which also ate away at Scott's bottom line as he tried to keep up with these new demands.  Scott retired from the lunch cart business in 1917, stating: "I guess I've done my share in putting the night lunch on the map, and I'm perfectly willing to step back and let others do the scratching for the dollars that came pretty easy in the old days."

On November 15, 2009, Walter Scott, the Providence entrepreneur whose 1872 horse-drawn lunch wagon became the forerunner of the classic American diner and inspired a new American industry, was posthumously inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Conley Conference Center in Providence.

Richard J.S. Gutman, director and curator of the Culinary Arts Museum, accepted the award on behalf of Scott, who is featured in the museum's signature exhibition, "Diners: Still Cookin' in the 21st Century."

Also inducted into the Heritage Hall of Fame: Major Gen. Zenas R. Bliss (1835-1900), Dr. Charles Carroll (1876-1936), Rev. John B. Diman (1863-1949), Chief Justice Thomas Durfee (1826-1901), Amasa Eaton (1841-1914), Col. Robert Hale Ives Goddard (1837-1916), John Gorham (1810-1898), Dr. Ramon Guiteras (1858-1917), Dr. John William Keefe (1863-1935), Annie Smith Peck (1850-1935) and Bishop William Stang (1854-1907).

The above information about Walter Scott was taken from Richard J.S. Gutman's book, American Diner Then and Now.

By the 1890s, Walter Scott's lunch wagon idea had spread as far west as Chicago and Denver.

From the Culinary Arts Museum Collection
Drawing by H.G. Maratta 
Chicago's "Levee District" at Night

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Culinary Arts Museum on the road

On Tuesday, November 17th our Event and Program Coordinator, Kristin Zosa Puleo, traveled to the Newport Public Library to talk to a group of 5-12 year old children (and their parents) about the origins of Thanksgiving.

Did you know...

The Pilgrims did not make their first landing at Plymouth Rock.  When the English Separatists set sail from Holland (they were exiled to Holland when they decided to split from the Church of England), they were aiming for the New York area.  The sea winds instead led them to the tip of Cape Cod, and the Mayflower landed in Provincetown.  From there, some men left to explore the area in smaller boats, and they decided that Plymouth would make a better area to build a settlement. 

The English Settlers and the Wampanoags did not actually plan to sit down together for his harvest celebration.  As part of the the festivities, the English were practicing their military drills.  The Wampanoags heard the gunfire, and Massasoit showed up with 90 of his men to find out what was happening.  When the Native Americans saw that the English were simply celebrating their harvest, Massasoit sent his men out to gather deer to add to the meal (the Settlers had already gathered enough wild fowl to last them a week!).  Wampanoag women and children joined the feast later on, and the entire celebration lasted for three days!!

Turkey was probably not the centerpiece of the meal in 1621.  In fact, there were a variety of proteins on the table during those three days.  In addition to venison and various wild birds, there was also lobster, clams, eel, and cod.  There was no pumpkin pie, no cranberry sauce, and no sweet potato casserole.  Since there was no sugar, flour, wheat, or butter available it would have been impossible to make any of these sweet treats.  As for the sweet potatoes, well, those didn't exist in New England at the time.  Those were an addition that came much later, from the folks who celebrated the holiday in the southern half of the country. 

And finally...Thanksgiving was not made an official holiday until 1863, as proclaimed by President Lincoln.  A woman by the name of Sarah Josepha Hale, editor for Godey's Lady's Book, began a one-woman campaign to nationalize the holiday.  In addition to including this petition in the magazine year after year, she began writing letters to the White House in 1846 requesting that the holiday become nationalized.  It was Lincoln that finally heeded to Hale's request.  He believed that the new national holiday would serve to unify the country under the stress of the Civil War.

OK, one more fun fact.  When Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation, he set the day to be the last Thursday of November.  In the 1930s, in the midst of the depression, retailers sent a request to the Federal Government requesting that the holiday be moved back one week to give shoppers an extra week between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Their argument was that the majority of people did not start Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving, and when the holiday fell on the last day of the month, sales suffered.  FDR agreed to the change, and this put America in an uproar.  Some states flat out refused to recognize the change (the change was made in August of 1939 for November of the same year), and others (such as Texas) held two holidays.  Calendars had to be changed, and travel plans rescheduled.  Because of the upheaval, and because of the confusion the change caused, this date change was made into law in December of 1941.


And remember...we will be closed for Thanksgiving break.  See our holiday hours below. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Museum Hours for Thanksgiving Break

The Culinary Arts Museum will be closing at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, November 25th.
We will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (November 26th) through Monday, November 30th.
Regular hours will resume on Tuesday, December 1st.

Have a happy holiday!

From our collection:
Collier's Magazine Cover
Thanksgiving Turkey Raffle
Thanksgiving Issue: November 25, 1939.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This past weekend at JWU's Harborside Campus...

Donald Wressel, Corporate Pastry Chef for Guittard Chocolate, visited Johnson & Wales this past Saturday.  
In a demo for the faculty of the International Baking & Pastry Institute, he created a beautiful chocolate showpiece over the course of a day, as seen in the pictures below.  

About Guittard Chocolate Company:  
Guittard Chocolate Company is the oldest family owned chocolate operation in the United States.  Founded by Etienne Guittard in 1868, the company was originally located in San Francisco and was relocated to Burlingame in 1955.  Not only does Guittard Chocolate work closely with growers, but the company is also one of the few remaining bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the United States.  The process of transformation from dried cacao beans to chocolate occurs in Guittard's Burlingame facility. 

A bit about Chef Donald Wressell:
In 1985, Donald Wressell worked as the Assistant Pastry Chef for the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia, and in 1987 he moved to Los Angeles where he was the Executive Pastry Chef for the Four Seasons until 2006.  He was named one of the "Top Ten Best Pastry Chefs" by Chocolatier-Pastry Art & Design in 1998 and 1999, and in 2003 he was named Southern California's Restaurant Writers "Pastry Chef of the Year."  The Organizing Committee of the National Pastry Team Championships gave Wressell the title of "Pastry Chef of the Year" in 2005.  Chef Wressell was the recipient of Silver and Gold medals in the Grand Salon Culinaire, and he was the second place winner in Les Masters du Chocolat competition in 1995.  He has represented the United States four times in Le Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie (the World Cup of Pastry).  In 1995 and 2005, as team captain, Wressell led the team to winning Bronze medals.  The USA won their first Gold medal in 2001 with Donald as their team coach and manager.  

Donald Wressell was Johnson & Wales 152nd Distinguished Visiting Chef, honored on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008.

The Culinary Arts Museum connection...
If you've been to the museum, you may remember that in our Pantheon of Chefs exhibit, we have a display case dedicated to Julia Child.  Among the items in that case are an autographed chef coat signed by chefs that attended and/or cooked for one of her many 80th birthday celebrations, as well as a photo from the event that shows Julia being presented with a birthday cake.  Not only did Chef Wressell sign the chef coat, but he can be seen standing next to Julia as she is presented with the cake that he baked for her!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Culinary Arts Museum in the news!

Our stove exhibit was featured as part of an article in the Boston Globe on October 25, 2009.

Click on the link below to check it out!
The way we cooked - The Boston Globe

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coming up next week...

Johnson & Wales Campus Art Exhibit:
Tuesday, October 20-Thursday, October 22

JWU students, faculty, and staff are invited to submit their artwork for the Providence Campus Art Exhibit.  Submissions are due on Sunday, October 18 for those interested. Media accepted range from photography to culinary art.  The show will be juried; first place wins $100, and second and third place will receive $75 each.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 2009 Weekend of Fire: the recap

"I've seen fire and I've seen rain..."
--James Taylor

Despite the rainy conditions on Saturday, this year's Weekend of Fire was a success.  Mystic Seaport Blacksmith Bill Scheer was unable to operate his forge; however, he did bring along a fine display of his work.  Bill graciously stayed with us for the duration of the event and was available for questions and conversation.

Right on schedule, the wood-fired oven was lit and ready to go for 11 am.  The chefs and culinary students braved the windy, wet weather to feed hundreds of hungry parents and students who were sheltered under a tent.  In total, more than 240 pizzas were served in just three hours - meaning that over 1,920 slices of pizza were consumed!

Inside the museum, our visitation numbers reached record highs.  Close to 800 guests took the opportunity to browse through our exhibits while drying off and warming up.  After stopping in during the afternoon, over 500 students and their family members returned to the museum in the evening for Casino Night, part of Johnson & Wales' Family Weekend festivities.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's brewing at JWU this week?

Sam Calagione, founder and head brewer of 
Dogfish Head Brewery to visit Johnson & Wales

One of the country's most successful entrepreneurs, Sam Calagione, will speak at Johnson & Wales University this Friday, October 2, 2009 at 1:00 PM.  Though Calagione's beer is now distributed to 29 states and four countries, Dogfish Head continues to work with local farmers and merchants.  Among the brewery's many honors,  Slow Food USA honored Dogfish Head in October 2005, at its "Urban Harvest," a festive tribute to farmers and food artisans who provide New York and the surrounding region with foods that are delicious, ecologically sustainable and humanely produced.  In addition, Dogfish Head's initiative to recycle all of its spent barley grain into cow feed has earned the company recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency's Waste Water Program. 

The talk is open to all JWU students, faculty, and staff.  A tasting will follow, and is open only to those 21 and over.  A valid Johnson & Wales ID is required for entry.  For more information, contact your local JbreW member.

Do your homework! 
To read up on one of Dogfish Head's most exotic brews, click on the link to the New York Times article below. Chew It Up, Spit It Out, Then Brew. Cheers! 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happenings at the Culinary Arts Museum

Keep an eye out and an ear open for announcements about upcoming exhibitions and additions to the museum this Fall/Winter:

"Seasons of Sweets: The Timberlake Mould Collection"

This temporary exhibit will highlight an assortment of ice cream and chocolate moulds from the Dorothy N. & Dr. William H. Timberlake Culinary Collection.  Over 100 moulds are set to go on display, organized according to holiday and sports seasons. 

"Culinary Beginnings" - Objects from the Culinary Arts Museum's Collection  Our "Culinary Beginnings" gallery, currently a display of Ancient Chinese and Korean artifacts on long-term loan from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, will be enhanced this Autumn with cooking vessels and utensils from the Culinary Arts Museum's collection of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian antiquities. 

"Diners, Still Cookin' in the 21st Century" - The Hesperus Diner 
The museum is preparing for the installation of a unique video theater as part of the 4,000 square-foot diner exhibit.  It will be housed in the bullet-shaped end of the Hesperus Diner, a 1940 Streamliner originally located in Gloucester, MA.

As always, if you have any questions, you can reach the museum by phone at 401-598-2805, or by email at 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Upcoming Events

October 2-4th, 2009.

Family Weekend at Johnson & Wales University

Featuring the Museum's Weekend of Fire


On Saturday, October 3rd, the Culinary Arts Museum will host the Weekend of Fire between the hours of 11am-2pm, featuring baking demonstrations in a wood-fired brick oven, tours of a Swiss Military Mobile bread-baking truck and blacksmithing demos of culinary tools.  The event is free to museum guests and will be held in the tent area adjacent to the museum.  Call 401-598-2805 for additional information.
This event is happening rain or shine!  We will have a tent with ample seating.