By LARRY VAUGHT
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — When my wife persuaded me that we should take a trip to Cape Cod for the first time, I thought about all the seafood I could eat more than anything else.
But not once did I imagine a stop at the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University in Providence. However, after Bill DeSousa suggested that is one stop we should make as he was helping us with travel ideas for Cape Cod, I thought, “Why not?”
Still, I’ve got to admit I figured my wife would enjoy the museum a lot more than me. I was wrong. We both enjoyed it thanks in large part to the tour given us by Erin Williams, collections manager at the museum.
Imagine my surprise when one of the first exhibits — and Williams noted that exhibits were constantly changed — dealt with restaurant branding and there was our own Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The whole story of KFC was told and included information and a photo of the first KFC in Corbin — a spot we had visited years ago.
Then there was a photo and exhibit with chef Emeril Lagasse, a well-known personality who has hosted TV shows and opened restaurants. He’s a Johnson & Wales University alum. It was also intriguing to see some of the magnificent work the current college students had on display of what they had learned in classes.
I enjoyed the White House Vignettes that included how a chef for President John Kennedy’s White House staff was chosen and a look at recipes used at the White House. There were also newspaper clippings from over 50 years ago to help tell the story.
It almost felt like home at the Country Fair to Culinary Olympics exhibit. It was really fun to see all the things here, but I really loved the old-time Skee Ball game that actually still works. I couldn’t resist rolling a few balls myself and Williams said it was very popular with the college students as well.
There is a lot, lot more to see and the neat thing is that if we come back in two years, much of the museum might be different.
The grandfather in me also greatly appreciated the various child-friendly stations so youngsters could spend time enjoying the museum while parents or grandparents were looking at exhibits.
If you are ever in Providence, take a few hours — or more — to visit a spot that you will like a lot more than you would ever imagine.
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For more information, visit https://www.culinary.org/.