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Wegmans Hosting First Kitchen Demo At Smithsonian Ahead Of ‘Wonderplace’ Opening


Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 10:12 am

As part of its new Innovation Wing, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will open “Wegmans Wonderplace” on Dec. 9 as the first exhibition on the National Mall designed for the learning needs of children 6 and under. Festivities, however, kicked off last week with the launch of “Food Fridays” at a new demonstration kitchen, which is part of the Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza. Part of the museum’s Food History Project, the kitchen hosts a diverse menu of programs and demonstrations that brings visitors together for relevant discussions that start with history and expand to the present and future of American food.

Each Friday, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., a guest chef and a Smithsonian staff host takes the stage as part of “Food Fridays” to talk about the traditions behind growing, preparing and eating throughout American history. Additionally, Wegmans will stock the kitchen pantry every week with fresh produce and will provide culinary experts for demonstrations once each month. The first Wegmans chef will showcase his skills July 10.

Wegmans Executive Chef Llewellyn Correia will “Fire Up the Grill” on Friday as a Smithsonian host shares stories about the late 1940s, when the American tradition of neighborhood cookouts had its start, and where meat made a major comeback after years of wartime rationing.

As Llewellyn shares grilling ideas and techniques, Wegmans nutritionist Krystal Register will offer tips for eating “half-plate healthy” at backyard cookouts. Both Llewellyn and Register will answer questions about how habits at the grill today reflect changes in Americans’ shopping and cooking behaviors over the last half century. Vegetables, fruits and even salad on the grill would have seemed a bit odd in the 1950s but, now, some of the most-requested Wegmans recipes include grilled balsamic vegetables and squash boats, according to Register.

Following Wegmans Food Friday on July 10, upcoming chef demos will take place Aug. 14, Sept. 11, Oct. 9 and Nov. 6. Special holiday-themed demonstrations will be held on the stage Dec. 9 to coincide with the grand opening celebration of “Wonderplace.”

Wegmans Wonderplace is made possible by a $1.5 million gift and in-kind donations from Rochester, New York-based Wegmans Food Markets. The space will allow curious children to “cook” in a kitchen inspired by Julia Child’s; plant and harvest pretend vegetables and run the farm stand; find the owls hiding in a miniature replica of the Smithsonian’s Castle building; and captain a tugboat based on a model in the museum’s collection.

The museum named its early learning space “Wonderplace” for its mission to cultivate a sense of wonder and imagination. This 1,700-s.f. gallery will provide the youngest historians with age-appropriate activities over the next 20 years.

“We know that play is an integral part of sparking invention and innovation, and ‘Wegmans Wonderplace’ will ignite that innate curiosity in children and help guide them on a path to lifetime learning at the Smithsonian,” said John Gray, director of the museum.

Added Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman, “Wegmans’ mission is to help our customers live healthier, better lives, and that begins with children. Having fun through play is the best way to inspire children to learn.”

According to the grocer, the opening of ‘Wegmans Wonderplace’ at the end of this year also will help to usher in Wegmans’ 100th anniversary in 2016.

“Wegmans Wonderplace” will feature six sections each with play-based interdisciplinary activities. The sections include: the Farm, the Kitchen, the Port, the Construction Site, the Gallery and the Smithsonian Castle. Each area combines artifact displays with fun hands-on activities to engage young children and their families. Activities such as the 12 different kinds of blocks in the Construction Site will help promote creativity and advance motor skills.

More than 100 objects will be displayed around “Wonderplace” to stimulate early learners’ interest in museums and American history. These artifacts from the museum’s collections will be presented in fun ways to get families excited about what they are seeing. In the Castle section, children will get to look at objects from all angles as they climb around—and even under—them. In the Farm section, kids will “find the animals” among the weathervanes, milk bottles, farm toys and lunch boxes.

So that every age group can get the most out of “Wonderplace,” signs will guide parents and caregivers on how to help their children engage in the activities. The center also will contain family-friendly amenities to create a more comfortable environment for visitors. These amenities include family bathrooms with diaper-changing stations, parking areas for strollers and a quiet nook in the rear of the space where parents can feed and take care of infants.

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Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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