MOFAD and Education
The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) is New York City's first food museum. MOFAD seeks to advance the public understanding of the culture, history, science, production, and commerce of food and drink. Our exhibition design studio, MOFAD Lab, houses small exhibitions that allow students to see, smell, touch, and explore while learning about different cuisines. Our multi-sensory approach to learning uses food as a lens to understand our world.
MOFAD is committed to active participation in food education. That is why the museum offers hands-on guided tours based on age-appropriate lesson plans. Our educational workshops promote a deeper look into the food system through exhibition content. We encourage students to think critically and creatively about food, as well as the stories and history connected to it. In our visits students have the opportunity to explore and relate to different food cultures and perspectives on eating. We offer a different experience and invite you to be part of it.
Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant
(On view through summer 2017)
You might know it as Chinese takeout, Americanized Chinese food, or simply Chinese food. Whatever you call it, the food served at Chinese American restaurants is its own, authentic cuisine.
Today, this cuisine is served in nearly 50,000 restaurants across the United States. Most are independently owned, yet feature menus that are surprisingly similar. Most are run by recent Chinese immigrants, yet serve food that is distinctly American.
Where did these restaurants come from? How did they become so popular?
Chow will offer students a journey through the history of Chinese American restaurants, with a focus on the political and cultural forces that have shaped the Chinese American experience. Along the way, students will learn why every small town in America has a Chinese restaurant, understand the origins of the contemporary Chinese American menu, and hear the stories of pioneering Chinese Americans who helped create and popularize this unique cuisine.
K-12 School Programs
The Story of Chop Suey
K - 2nd grade
Students will see and explore selected artifacts in the Chow exhibition and create their own arts and crafts Chinese American meal. Through observation and creative activities, students will come to recognize what Chinese American food is and learn about the historical context in which chop suey rose to popularity. Students will also explore a real fortune cookie machine and fold their own origami fortune cookie.
3rd - 5th grade
Through the Chow exhibition, students will learn about the political and racial exclusion that forced Chinese immigrants to open restaurants as a way of sustaining themselves and their communities. By comparing antique and vintage menus from various NYC Chinese American restaurants, students will use critical-thinking skills to make inferences pertaining to the evolution of Chinese American restaurants and cuisine. The lesson concludes with a fun “chopstick challenge” and time to reflect on Chinese restaurants in our very own NYC neighborhoods.
Authenticity and Adaptation
6th - 8th grade
Through the Chow exhibition, students will address the concepts of authenticity and adaptation by analyzing the history and development of Chinese American cuisine. Students will analyze familiar Chinese American dishes to determine if they are authentic and then design a modern Chinese American food takeout container using adaptations that need to be made for today's audience.
Through the Chow exhibition, students will address the history of Chinese American restaurants and understand the evolution of Chinese American cuisine in relation to shifting political and cultural circumstances. Students will participate in inquiry-based discussion based on the artifacts displayed, an individual artifact-study exercise, and a creative group project to design and advertise a modern Chinese American restaurant with authentic, signature dishes.