HAM’s Foodways Dinner Series an Enthusiastic Success

Historic Arkansas Museum - Thursday, April 26, 2018 2018 - Thursday, April 26, 2018

Historic Arkansas Museum (HAM) is halfway through the inaugural year of the “History is Served: Arkansas Foodways Dinner Series.” The series, a program of the Arkansas Foodways Initiative, consists of four dinners that allow guests to explore Arkansas’s food heritage through historically themed meals. The first two dinners were both sold-out.

For each dinner the museum’s research team recruited notable Little Rock chefs and provided them with historical recipes, lists of ingredients and academic articles that have helped them create a modern interpretation on a historical meal.

The first dinner’s theme was Pre-Colonial Arkansas and celebrated the food and culture of the Quapaw Tribe. The four-course dinner was prepared by 42 bar and table’s Executive Chef Gilbert Alaquinez and Chef Michael Selig.

Pre-Colonial Menu

Duck breast over gritsFirst Course: Cold Smoke Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast over Hannah Farms Grits and Sunflower Seed Cake topped with Persimmon Jalapeno Preserves

Second Course: Zuni (vegetable stew or sunflower pudding). Arkansas Sweet Corn and Charred Butternut Squash Bisque finished with Chive Oil and Sunflower Sprouts

Third Course: Cast-Iron Seared Quapaw Buffalo strip served with Caramelized Onion and Lima Bean Succotash, Honey Sweet Potato Puree finished with Wild Mushroom Demi-GlaceBuffalo strip steak

Dessert: Dark Chocolate Torte with Toasted Pecan Crumble, Cracked Pepper Blueberries and Fresh Whipped Cream


The second dinner’s theme was Colonial Arkansas and focused on the influence of the French and Spanish. Chef Mary Beth Ringgold, the executive chef of Cajun’s Wharf, Capers and Copper Grill prepared the dinner.

Colonial Menu

Appetizer: Mini Gulf Crab Cakes

First Course: Crawfish Bisque

Second Course: Seared Rabbit Tenderloin with Stone Ground Grits

Third Course: Double Cut Bone In Pork Chopwith Roasted Grapes, Apricots and Apples, Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary, Grilled Zucchini and Squash

Dessert: Pain Perdu

“Here we are at the halfway mark and I am delighted to report that the HAM’s ‘History is Served’ dinner series has been an unqualified success,” said Swannee Bennett, director of HAM. “The museum’s foundation board, in collaboration with the Arkansas Made research staff, have created a delightful culinary experience documenting historic foodways in Arkansas from the pre-colonial era on through to the 20th century. Local chefs have creatively adapted historic Native American, French and Spanish cuisines into a 21st century interpretation.”

The remaining dinners in the 2018 series “Territorial Arkansas: Scottish and German Settlers” in July and “Arkansas’s Southern Foodways: Legacy of African Americans” in November.

“The History is Served: Arkansas Foodways Dinner Series” is made possible by Ben E. Keith Foodservice Distributors and the Historic Arkansas Museum Foundation.