April 18, 2014  

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Arts Gala Chef Prepares 100 Years of American Food for Centennial Event

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Crème Brulee is among the desserts planned for “Gold” – the 2010 Centennial Arts Gala, Thursday, September 16 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center.

What would the party of the century be without a delicious menu of food from the past 100 years of American dining?

It was easier said than done, but Lake Terrace Convention Center Executive Chef Carmen Hardy Ford designed a menu of gourmet treats for the University of Southern MIssissippi 2010 Centennial Arts Gala. After long hours of investigative and historical research, Hardy Ford identified popular foods of each era between 1910 and 2010. The result is a sumptuous buffet filled with items that run the gamut between filet and fondue.

“This was one of the most fun and time consuming menus to put together, but I think people will be very pleased with the type of things they get to experience that night,” Hardy Ford said.

Every aspect of the gala is carefully designed around this year’s theme, “Gold”, in honor of The Southern Miss Centennial Celebration. This year’s event is slated for 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center.

 Historical tie-ins aside, food is one of the most memorable aspects of the arts gala. As is customary, with the purchase of a ticket guests receive an all-you-can-eat buffet. In years past, the arts gala food menu has called for Asian and French cuisine. However, this year, the gala committee and chef decided to bring guests on a journey through American culinary history.  

“With this type of event, we know it’s a formal atmosphere, but by going through the different eras it gives people a chance to eat something they never dreamed of eating in formal attire,” Hardy Ford said.

The gala opens with a look at the 1910’s, which, according to Hardy Ford, was about the time sliced bread was invented. In honor of that invention, a variety of gourmet sandwiches will be served, such as smoked salmon mousse and cucumber crustini. Cajun Louisiana food reached the mainstream in the 1980’s, which calls for a tribute to Chef Paul Prudhomme with a hearty serving of shrimp etouffee. The more recent Food Network craze that began in the 1990’s and spread like wildfire across the nation will be represented by a make-your-own dessert area featuring a mini cupcake bar, variety of mousse shots and fresh fruit. 

“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Mike Lopinto, event designer. “We don’t want to reveal all of the night’s secrets, but it’s important that people know their taste buds are in for a real treat this year. The chef at the convention center has cooked up some fabulous surprises as we travel through the decades.”

For more information, visit www.usm.edu/arts. Tickets are $100 and available by calling 601.266.5922.