SFA 2014 Saturday-Sunday Recap from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.

SFA 2014: What We Learned from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.

17th Southern Foodways Symposium
October 23—26, 2014
Who is Welcome at the Welcome Table?

The seventeenth Southern Foodways Symposium will be held October 23-26, 2014, on the campus of the University of Mississippi and in and around the town of Oxford. Registration for ticket holders begins on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. and the main event kicks off with a communal dinner for all ticket holders that evening. The Symposium closes at noon on Sunday.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 desegregated places of public accommodation including restaurants. This year, SFA marks that anniversary. And then we take a deep dive into the present, focusing on who is welcome at the contemporary welcome table, asking questions about inclusion and exclusion in the modern South, while taking into account old and new imperatives like ethnicity, sexuality, diet, class, gender, and race.

Our year of programming began this summer in Jackson, Mississippi, as the city marked the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, when college students from across the nation streamed into the state, intent on breaking the back of white supremacy. In advance of our Summer Symposium, SFA collected oral histories from black-owned businesses, published a graduate-student project on the unintended consequences of integration, and produced a film about the violent resistance to the integration of the Woolworth’s lunch counter.

We have done the same sort of spadework before this fall Symposium, interviewing Lumbee Indians in eastern North Carolina and new immigrants in Houston, Texas. Over the course of this gathering, you will meet some of those oral history subjects. And you will have the opportunity, through a wide range of films, to come face to face with some of our region’s unsung heroes and heroines.

SFA has booked a robust roster of speakers, too. Stepping to the podium will be old friends like novelist Randall Kenan, who will chart the ethnic and cultural evolution of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill; new friends like Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for the Atlantic and author of a recent blockbuster cover article on reparations; and new voices like baritone Justin Hopkins, who will sing the part of Delta waiter Booker Wright in an oratorio conceived by Nolan Gasser, Bruce Levingston, and Kevin Young.

Guests will savor breakfasts of fried chicken bao, brunches of charred steak and broiled Gulf shrimp, lunches of shoepeg corn and fried green tomatoes, and dinners of frijoles charros and tortillas. We won’t stint on drink, either. Attendees will enjoy Tabasco-spiked bloody Marys, wine and cider from Virginia, gin from Mississippi, and rum from the Global South.

If this is not your first Symposium, you will note that we’ve added a day of programming and an extra evening meal. Those additions are reflected in the ticket price of $675, which is $80 higher than last year. Because we pay all speakers and chefs, the SFA Symposium will never be cheap. But please know this: We stage our events on a break-even basis. What you pay reflects the actual costs SFA incurs.

Host for the Symposium is the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Generous corporations, foundations, and individuals fund our work:


Blackberry Farm Taste of the South
Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q
McIlhenny Company, maker of Tabasco
® Brand Products
Order of the Ossabaw


Alabama Tourism Department
Anson Mills
Billy Reid
Cathead Distillery
The Chisholm Foundation
The Cockayne Fund
Crescent Communities
Lodge Manufacturing
Mountain Valley Spring Water
New South Family Supper
North Carolina Division of Tourism
Order of the Okra
Piggy Bank Dinner Series
Royal Cup Coffee
Ruth U. Fertel Foundation
Simmons Farm Raised Catfish
Stir the Pot Dinner Series
Taqueria del Sol
Virginia Wine Board
Visit Mississippi
Whole Foods Market

Contributors to our Symposium efforts include Amelia Presents, City Grocery Restaurant Group, End of All Music, Fatback Collective, Foggy Ridge Cider, Honey Bee Bakery, and the Lyric Theater. Also supporting the cause are the Southern Documentary Project at the University of Mississippi, Mississippi Delta Community College Culinary School, Oxford Canteen, Square Books, Yalobusha Brewing, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, and White Oak Pastures.

The mission of the Southern Foodways Alliance it is to document, study, and celebrate the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. We set a common table where black and white, rich and poor—all who gather—may consider our history and our future in a spirit of reconciliation. Enrollment is open to everyone.




THACKER MOUNTAIN RADIO broadcasts a special edible edition live from the Lyric Theater

COMIDA FAMILIA DINNER at the Powerhouse featuring Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner and the mighty men of Celaya, in the Mexican state of Guanajuato

INTRODUCING STEVEN GRUBBS, guest Symposium sommelier who will curate and pour Virginia’s best


ROYAL CUP COFFEE and the debut of the 2014 official issue SFA travel mug

OLD TIMER BLOODY MARY RECEPTION hosted by the Order of the Scuppernong

BREAKFAST BAKED BY CHERYL DAY, the sweet pride of Savannah, Georgia

COUNTER HISTORIES desegregating the South’s restaurants with Kate Medley and Jason Sokol

STATE OF THE NATION: SFA MEMBERSHIP MEETING led by SFA board president Brett Anderson

JIM N NICK’S ORAL HISTORY HOUR with Malinda Maynor Lowery and Sara Wood


THE NASHVILLE LUNCH LINE IN BLACK AND WHITE presented by the Order of the Okra, featuring Kahlil Arnold and Sophia Vaughn



MARCIE FERRIS takes a modern tour of the Hungry South

ART EXHIBITION curated by Scott Blackwell

HAM, BISCUITS, AND COCKTAILS conceived and stirred by Tiffanie Barriere and Dave Wondrich

NEW SFA-PRODUCED JOE YORK DOCUMENTARY honoring 2014 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award winner Goren Avery and presented by Randy Fertel

THE BEST SCHOOL BUS RIDE EVER eight miles south down a dark country road

SIMMONS FARM RAISED CATFISH SUPPER featuring Lynn Hewlett, master of the Taylor Grocery fry basket and hushpuppy scoop

BICOASTAL DELACATA ON THE PORCH from Ashley Christensen and Charles Phan, served with Foggy Ridge cider and Yalobusha beer



YVETTE JOHNSON shows us why Booker Wright’s Delta story still resonates



PIKO EWOODZIE PONDERS how homeless Southerners set their daily tables

FINGER WAGGING AND FOOD SHAMING are not okay with Francis Lam

MEET THE WOMEN AND MEN OF HOUSTON who bake roti and muscle mortar and pestles

TABASCO LUNCHEON featuring Chris Shepherd, master of multicultural dim sum

TRASH AND CLASS, a personal reflection by Chris Offut


FROM SLAVERY TO SHARECROPPING TO SLAVERY in Immokalee, Florida, highlights from Food Chains and conversation with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

BIG GAY ICE CREAM SOCIAL featuring Bryan Petroff and Douglas Quint

EGERTON AWARD PRESENTATION moderated by John Simpkins

TOAST SANDOR KATZ the Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, and ogle his award, created by Blair Hobbs

LODGE CAST IRON BEANS GREENS AND CORNBREAD FEED with Kevin Gillespie, Eddie Hernandez, Duane Nutter, and Whitney Otawka

VIRGINIA WINES curated by Steven Grubbs



COFFEE AND AN AMUSE GUEULE from Royal Cup and Corbin Evans


REPAST: AN ORATORIO HOMAGE TO BOOKER WRIGHT featuring Nolan Gasser, Justin Hopkins, Bruce Levingston, and Kevin Young

GREENWOOD SICILIAN CREOLE FEAST of broiled shrimp and char-grilled steak, served Lusco’s-style, featuring Stevens Flagg with David Crews and Taylor Bowen Ricketts


Menus at SFA events are designed to illustrate our theme and to celebrate the bounty of the Southern larder. Please know that if you have a restricted diet or food allergies, we are unable to prepare or serve meals to accommodate individual needs.

A Symposium packet, with detailed schedules, bibliographies, and instructions for the self-coordinated ride-share program will be emailed to all confirmed participants two weeks prior to the event.

Dress for the weekend is casual. No need to pack your fancy duds.



Registration is open to all 2014 members of the SFA. Members may purchase multiple tickets to the Symposium, but buyers must confirm that their guests are also current SFA members. Registration opens Tuesday, August 5, at Noon CDT. All current SFA members will receive an email on Friday, August 1, with the link and password necessary for purchasing tickets. Tickets are sold online; we are unable to sell tickets by phone. SFA accepts Visa and MasterCard. Tickets, priced at $675 each, include all program presentations, meals, and social events. Refunds, minus a $100 cancellation fee, may be processed prior to September 25. No refunds after that date. Tickets are non-transferable.


Book your Symposium flights to and from Memphis (Tennessee) International Airport. Rental cars from all the major companies are available at the airport. SFA will coordinate a ride share board via email two weeks before the symposium for attendees who wish to coordinate travel to Oxford. Ride share coordination begins October 6.


Brett Anderson, a restaurant critic and features writer at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, is a 2013 Nieman Fellow and serves as SFA board president.

Kahlil Arnold along with his mother, Rose Arnold, operates Arnold’s Country Kitchen, the meat-and-three landmark in Nashville.

Tiffanie Barriere, the expert mixologist at One Flew South in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, proves every day that community can be cultivated on a tarmac.

Big Gay Ice Cream, the brainchild of Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff, brought soft-serve into the rainbow-splashed, unicorn-studded 21st century with menu items like the Bea Arthur and the Salty Pimp.

Scott Blackwell is the owner of High Wire Distillery in Charleston, South Carolina, and a longtime collector of Southern folk art.

Ashley Christensen, chef and proprietor of Poole’s Diner and other restaurants and bars in Raleigh, North Carolina, won the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast

Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for the Atlantic, is the author of The Beautiful Struggle. His recent cover story on reparations has proved one of the most widely read stories of the digital age.

David Crews of Cleveland, Mississippi, an instructor in culinary arts at Mississippi Delta Community College, has lent his talents and those of his students to dozens of Symposium meals.

John Currence, author of Pickles, Pigs, and Whiskey and chef-owner of City Grocery Restaurant Group, serves on the SFA board of directors.

Cheryl Day, along with her husband, Griffith Day, owns Back in the Day Bakery in  Savannah, Georgia, and is coauthor of The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.

Ralph Eubanks, a native of Mississippi, is the editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review and the author of Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey into Mississippi’s Dark Past.

Amy Evans is the SFA’s lead oral historian, whose most recent work documents the emergent food traditions of Houston, Texas.

Corbin Evans, the chef-owner of Oxford Canteen in the Lyric alley, will put a fried egg on anything you want.

Joseph “Piko” Ewoodzie is a sociologist whose work has explored topics ranging from hip-hop in the Bronx to hunger in Jackson, Mississippi.

Marcie Ferris, who teaches at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, is the author of The Edible South: Food and History in an American Region.

Randy Fertel of New Orleans, president of the Fertel Foundation and the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation, is the author of the memoir The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak.

Stevens Flagg, the chef at Giardina’s in Greenwood, Mississippi, developed a love of cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen and began his professional culinary career at Greenwood’s Crystal Grill.

Nolan Gasser is a composer, pianist, musicologist, and the architect of the Music Genome Project, which tells Pandora how to pick your favorite tunes.

Kevin Gillespie is the author of Fire in My Belly and the chef at Gunshow, an Atlanta restaurant with a dim sum-esque approach to service.

Steven Grubbs, the wine director for Five & Ten and Cinco y Diez in Athens and Empire State South in Atlanta, was a 2014 James Beard Award nominee.

Eddie Hernandez, the chef and co-owner of Taqueria del Sol and co-founder of the Piggy Bank Dinner Series, is a master of spicy turnip greens and fried-chicken tacos.

Lis Hernandez, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, is the chef and proprietor of Arepa Mia, with two locations in metropolitan Atlanta.

Debbie and Lynn Hewlett are the co-proprietors of Taylor Grocery, arguably the South’s most fabled catfish house.

Blair Hobbs, a senior lecturer in the English department at the University of Mississippi, teaches poetry and paints—her latest show is up in October at Southside Gallery.

Justin Hopkins is a bass-baritone opera singer who has performed with the Boston Pops, the American Symphony Orchestra, and the Fort Worth Opera.

Yvette Johnson, the granddaughter of Booker Wright, a former waiter and bar owner in Greenwood, Mississippi, is author of the forthcoming book Finding Booker Wright.

Randall Kenan, an author who teaches creative writing at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, last spoke at the Southern Foodways Symposium about hog sex.

Todd Kliman, the dining editor for the The Washingtonian magazine, is the author of The Wild Vine, the best work of nonfiction ever written about a transsexual vintner.

Francis Lam is an editor for Clarkson Potter Books and served as volume editor for Cornbread Nation 7: The Best of Southern Food Writing.

Bruce Levingston, artistic director of Premiere Commission, has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Levingston was recently named the Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi

Malinda Maynor Lowery is director of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the author of Lumbee Indians of the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation.

Kate Medley, a graduate of the master’s program in Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, works as a documentarian for Whole Foods Market.

Ben Mims, a food writer, recipe developer, and pastry chef from Mississippi, is the author of Sweet & Southern: Classic Desserts with a Twist.

Jeff Mosier, a founding member of Blueground Undergrass, is a musician, raconteur, and captain of the Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q bus.

Duane Nutter, the chef at One Flew South in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, performs stand-up comedy when he isn’t preparing the best food you’ve ever eaten on a layover.

Chris Offutt, a Kentucky native who makes his home in Oxford, writes fiction, non-fiction, and television, including episodes of Weeds and True Blood.

Whitney Otawka serves pozole, ceviche, and sweetbread tacos as the chef at Cinco y Diez in Athens, Georgia.

Ted Ownby, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, is co-editor of The Larder: Food Studies Methods from the American South.

Charles Phan, chef and owner of The Slanted Door and other San Francisco restaurants, won the 2014 James Beard Outstanding Restaurant award.

Taylor Bowen Ricketts, the chef at Delta Bistro in Greenwood, Mississippi, interprets local bounty like pastured quail and sweet potato greens.

Clay Risen, an editor at The New York Times op-ed section, is the author of The Bill of The Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act.

Nely Rodriguez is a farmworker, spokesperson for the Campaign for Fair Food, and a member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Chris Shepherd is the chef at Underbelly, a Houston restaurant whose mission is to tell the story of the city’s diverse food cultures. He won the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest.

John Simpkins is a lawyer and political analyst whose writing about agriculture and foodways has appeared in The Oxford American magazine. He serves on the Egerton Award committee.

Bill Smith, an SFA board member and the chef at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is the author of Seasoned in the South.

Jason Sokol, who teaches history at the University of New Hampshire, is the the author of There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights.

Sophia Vaughn is the proprietor of Silver Sands in Nashville, famous for stewed oxtails, shoepeg corn, and hot water cornbread.

Cori Xiong and her husband, Heng Chen are the owners of Mala Sichuan Bistro, Houston’s first honest Sichuan restaurant.

David Wondrich is the author of Imbibe, an homage to seminal bartender Jerry Thomas, as well as Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl.

Sara Wood, an oral historian who has collected stories across the upper South, is the SFA’s newest full-time staff member.

Joe York has directed more than forty foodways documentaries for the SFA and for the Southern Documentary Project.

Kevin Young, a poet who curates and teaches at Emory University, is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently, of Book of Hours.