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!