What could make TCL’s newly opened Culinary Institute of the South even better? A food museum of course.

That’s just what’s in the works. The Foodseum – an interactive museum experience dedicated to Southern food – is currently in development and set to open in late 2022 onsite at the institute in Bluffton.

The Foodseum will be the first of its kind in the region and will attract residents and tourists alike to discover the area’s rich food heritage. Its Bluffton location sits perfectly between Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., two of the most popular Southern cities in America.

While students are working toward degrees and credentials, community members and visitors will be able to explore and increase their understanding, appreciation and firsthand knowledge of Southern food and its unique history and culture.

The Foodseum will showcase immersive educational exhibits ranging from an interactive food growth map to a photographic collection of quintessential Southern dishes along with a look into their origins and ingredients.

A broad collection of artifacts from old flour sacks to farming tools will be on display. Photographs and video profiles will feature Southern chefs and their favorite foods. Rotating themes will feature Gullah, Geechee, local seafood, farm to table, and more.

Though its physical footprint is only about 1,200 square feet, programming like tasting events, guest chef lectures, and other hands-on seminars will expand the experience.

TCL has enlisted the help of a number of local and national experts to ensure the museum is engaging, educational and fun for all ages. For example, Jonathan Haupt, executive director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort, and Charlie Clark, vice president for marketing for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, are active members of the advisory committee.

In addition, curatorial advisors Liz Williams, founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, and chef and scholar Kevin Mitchell of Charleston, have been hard at work guiding the development and collection of authentic and accurate content.

Other community members are also helping to ensure a unique experience. The Sun City Hilton Head Woodworkers Guild is constructing the centerpiece table of the Foodseum.

Just as the dinner table has been the heart of conversations among families and friends, this 12-foot-by-3.5-foot wide table will invite gathering and discussion around Southern food and history. In fact, each end of the table will be fashioned to resemble rice gates like those used in cultivation centuries ago.

While the Culinary Institute of the South’s graduates will directly support the Lowcountry’s travel and tourism industry, the Foodseum will become its own destination.

That’s what we call the perfect pairing.

Leigh Copeland is the assistant vice president of marketing and public relations for Technical College of the Lowcountry.