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 t
hrough 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

Young students will see, smell, hear, and touch while learning about the Chinese immigrant experience and “Chop Suey Madness,” the phenomenon that swept the US 100 years ago, making Chinese American food popular everywhere. Students will touch a real wok, collaboratively create a  recipe for chop suey, explore a real fortune cookie machine, and fold their own origami fortune cookie to take home.
 

Menu Detectives
3rd - 5th grade

A guided exploration of Chow reveals how Chinese immigrants used opportunity and adaptation to carve out a successful niche in the restaurant industry. As “menu detectives,” students will look closely (with magnifying glasses!) at Chow’s extensive collection of antique and vintage Chinese American menus to discover how this new cuisine became so popular and widespread. We’ll conclude with a fun “chopstick challenge” group activity.
 

recipes for success
6th - 8th grade

A guided exploration of Chow addresses the concepts of adaptation and opportunity as strategies for success used by Chinese American immigrants since 1849. As students work in small groups to closely examine selected antique and vintage menus from the Chow exhibition, they will discover how and why Chinese American cuisine has changed over the past 150 years and what this phenomenon teaches us about the Chinese American experience.
 

Resilient Restaurants
High School

A guided and independent exploration of Chow will address the history of Chinese American restaurants and the evolution of Chinese American cuisine in relation to shifting political and cultural circumstances from 1849 to the present. To tie it all together, students will work in teams to design an advertisement for a unique, modern Chinese American restaurant with authentic, signature dishes.