Ancestral Cooking Forum
smithsonian's sweet home cafe...
Inside the African American History Museum’s Sweet Home Cafe with Carla Hall
It’s rare to catch Carla Hall without a radiant smile. The chef and co-host of ABC’s The Chew is one of the celebrity food world’s most ebullient personalities, on-and-off screen. Yet when she talks about the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Nashville native becomes teary.
“I’m going to get really emotional about this,” says Hall, seated in the museum’s dining hall, Sweet Home Cafe, which opens on September 24. “As a whole, African Americans are very humble people. We don’t stand up and say ‘Yes, I did that!’ We’ve made contributions, and we’re proud of them. Now you have an entire museum saying: ‘Here I am. Look at our contributions.’”
Hall is the “culinary ambassador” for the museum and its 400-seat restaurant—a role she describes as public outreach over cooking or consulting. When catering and hospitality groups were bidding for a food service contract, Hall was an advisor to the wining team: Restaurant Associates, which operates several Smithsonian dining venues, and Thompson Hospitality, America’s largest minority-owned food service company. Executive chef Jerome Grant, formerly of Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe, created a similar menu layout to the one inside the National Museum of the American Indian. Food stations are broken down by region to tell an expansive culinary story. At Sweet Home Cafe, four are represented: The North States, Agricultural South, Creole Coast, and Western Range.
They are just wrong with those