Lumpia from Abstrack Filipino is featured in a new exhibit at the Beaches Museum. l Katie Rider via Beaches Museum.Lumpia from Abstrack Filipino is featured in a new exhibit at the Beaches Museum. l Katie Rider via Beaches Museum.
Lumpia from Abstrack Filipino is featured in a new exhibit at the Beaches Museum. | Katie Rider, Beaches Museum.

New exhibit explores the culinary history of the Beaches

Published on February 23, 2024 at 2:31 pm

A new exhibit at the Beaches Museum in Jacksonville Beach will allow visitors to explore the history of the food that’s shaped the Beaches community.

It’s called Bite by Bite, and the exhibit will explore the culinary history, current and former restaurants and the cultural effect food has had on the Beaches community through the years.

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Chris Hoffman, executive director of the museum, said the exhibit will use food as a tool to allow the community to connect with the Beaches’ past and present.

“There’s so much you can tell about a community — where it came from, how it was developed — through its food, and that’s what we’re going to be exploring,” Hoffman said.

Visitors will be able to check out the food associated with the indigenous Mocama population that settled along the Atlantic Coast who fished for seafood to the Minorcan population that migrated to the St. Augustine area in protest of harsh working conditions and behavior while working on a plantation in the New Smyrna Beach area. The Minorcan population is famous for introducing datil peppers to the area and for making a dish called Pileau, which is a rice dish with chicken and sausage.

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The exhibit also will look at the restaurant’s past and present. Restaurants that will be featured include the Homestead and Strickland’s Restaurants, which have closed, and current ones like Voo Swar Restaurant & Lounge and Abstrakt Filipino. 

Jojo Hernandez, chef and owner of Abstrakt Filipino, said he is sharing his recipes for lumpia and pancit as part of this exhibit. Lumpia is like a Filipino egg roll, and pancit is an egg noodle dish. Hernandez said those dishes are what his restaurant is known for and it’s an honor to be featured as part of this exhibit even though his restaurant has been in Jax Beach for about a year.

“It feels awesome. I feel like you know they include me already to the Jacksonville Beach area, that they accept me being here,” Hernandez said.

Before opening a physical location, Abstrakt Filipino was a food truck, and Hernandez has been a chef in Northeast Florida for more than 20 years.

This exhibit isn’t just about walking through the museum and reading. It also will have interactive features to bring the culinary history to life.

Author Jeffery Spear will visit March 21 to talk about the indigenous cuisine from the area. There also will be cooking classes visitors can sign up for on April 23 and 24. The classes will teach how to make famous recipes like the fried chicken, creamed peas and biscuits from the Homestead and the gumbo and bread pudding from Strickland’s.

Hoffman said this is a great chance for newer members of the community to learn about recipes that still have people buzzing today.

“When you engage your taste buds with your community’s history, that’ll really stick with you and be part of your knowledge of our area,” Hoffman said.

The exhibit is free for museum members. There is a suggested $5 donation for nonmembers. The cooking classes cost $80 per person.

Bite by Bite will open Friday and run through June 2.

Lead image: Lumpia from Abstrakt Filipino is featured in a new exhibit at the Beaches Museum. | Florida Times-Union via Beaches Museum

author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.

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