FAQs about the National Culinary Heritage Register

What is eligible for the National Culinary Heritage Register?

In order to create a full and expansive map of America’s culinary history and landscape, the SoFAB Institute has designed a broad and flexible set of criteria for acceptance to the Register.

Subject Category

Unlike the National Register of Historic Places, the National Culinary Heritage Register does not focus on built environment.  Rather, the Register acknowledges any significant culinary product, process, invention, tradition, and establishment at least 60 years old that may or may not be associated with exact physical sites.  The Register includes:

  1. Subjects that may be associated with a specific building or property, such as continuously operating restaurants, stores, factories, mills, farms, distilleries,

  2. Subjects, such as culinary inventions, processes, and traditions, that may be attached to a geographical location, like a city or region, but not a specific physical site.

  3. Establishments, like restaurants, stores, factories, etc., that no longer exist but were of particular historical significance to America’s food and beverage culture.

Criteria for Determining Significance

Applicants must prove that the subject has made a significant impact on American food and beverage culture.  Examples of what makes a subject significant to America’s culinary heritage include:

  1. The subject is associated with the origin of what may be considered a distinctly American food or beverage or an American take on a food or beverage.

  2. The subject is associated with the origin of or is well-known for a specific regional food or beverage.

  3. The subject is associated with a traditional and/or uniquely American way of preparing food or beverage.

  4. The subject was the first and/or longest continuously-running culinary establishment of a particular type (restaurant/store/farm/factory/mill/etc.) in the United States.

  5. The subject is associated with a major American culinary brand.

  6. The subject altered or impacted the ways in which food or beverage is produced, distributed, or consumed in the United States and the world.

How can I nominate something for the Register?

To nominate a subject for the National Culinary Heritage Register, submit a completed application and $45 application fee to 1609 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard, New Orleans LA 70113.   Checks should be made out to The SoFAB Institute.  After the SoFAB Institute has received the nomination, the applicant will be sent an email confirmation of receipt.  Download application here: Culinary Heritage Register Application

What happens if my application is accepted?

The subject will be added to the National Culinary Heritage Register’s online database, and the applicant will receive a certificate.  Additionally, if the Register subject is associated with a physical site, the applicant may opt to purchase a commemorative plaque.  While the SoFAB Institute cannot supply plaques, we do provide a design and phrasing template that we ask applicants to use when ordering a plaque.

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