Foodways: Where Food and Culture Meet

Why do some regions specialize in a certain food while people in other areas have never heard of it?

How are foods and the traditions surrounding them passed down from generation to generation?

What role does food play in cultural identity?

These are just a few of the questions that foodways attempts to better understand and answer.

According to the Lexicon of Food, foodways is the “study of what, how and why we eat with emphasis on food events as much as the food itself. The study of foodways is important to cultural studies and encompasses issues of race, class, gender, economy, environment, geography and history, among others.”

From this definition, it’s clear that foodways is much more than just studying food ― it’s considering food consumption on a much deeper level.

Aware of the influence of foodways on the industry, Johnson & Wales University (JWU) Charlotte hosts a series titled “Know your Foodways ― the intersection of food in culture, traditions and history.” Similarly, S&D Coffee & Tea recognized it was a topic that was relevant to the students and chose to incorporate it into this year’s S&D Culinary Challenge.

Through this competition, JWU students have the opportunity to win cash prizes — and bragging rights — for their recipes that address the designated theme. This year’s theme is “Show your Foodways with a Cold Brew Twist,” and students are tasked with incorporating S&D’s cold brew concentrate into their original Southern recipe. This provides a great way for students to explore the Southern food culture through recipe development, demonstration and storytelling.

Following the semi-final taste test, local chefs with expertise in Southern cuisine will become the mentors to the 10 S&D Culinary Challenge finalists, helping them practice, refine and perfect their dishes to prepare for the finals which will be held on Feb. 20.

The top student chef chosen that evening will receive the $10,000 grand prize, followed by $4,000 for second place and $1,500 for third.

This annual event demonstrates S&D’s commitment to the culinary community and desire to inspire innovation in chefs — whether they are just beginning their careers at JWU or are a veteran of the industry.

If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, check out S&D’s library of menu innovations.