Get ready to CHOW down at the latest exhibit from the Museum of Food and Drink in Williamsburg. Timed perfectly with Lunar New Year celebrations and the new administrations immigration revelations, the new exhibit, CHOW: The Making of the Chinese American Restaurant celebrates the evolution of the Chinese American restaurants, tracing the nearly 170 year history.
Outside the MOFAD in Williamsburg
CHOW: Making of the Chinese American Restaurant
The exhibit that takes over the entire MOFAD space, aims to start conversation around immigration, cultural identity, and how Chinese Americans created one of America’s most beloved cuisines.
Wonderful artifacts and displays within the exhibit.
From a collection of restaurant artifacts, incredible tastings from talented chefs, Chinese American menu exhibits, scent-sational stations and fortune cookie message creations – this exhibit is great for any future foodie or a tasty history lesson.
CHOW: Menu Display
One of the largest displays within the museum is a Chinese American Restaurant menu collection, dating back to 1910. The curated menus are beautifully displayed and show the evolution of the Chinese cuisine, decade by decade. In addition to the cuisine, we loved exploring how the menus design changed through time.
The amazing fortune cookie machine.
The Fortune Cookie
One of the biggest things to see, is the amazing (and continuously operating!) 1,500 pound fortune cookie machine at the exhibit. After watching the machine at work – hungry guests are able to crack open a warm treat straight from the machine and enjoy a freshly made (and delicious!) cookie.
The openly displayed machine.
The machine is openly displayed – allowing for visitors to watch the entire process of fortune cookies being made before their eyes. But its what’s inside that makes this exhibit so special.
Project Fortune takes the beloved fortune cookie and makes it a social affair – using the kindness of stranger to fill out the fortunes inside the cookies layers, Each and every cookie made at the museum contain fortunes of goodwill from people all around the world. MOFAD invites guests to join the edible experiment by submitting fortunes online, via Twitter, or by typing in their own fortune at the museum.
Put your sniffer to the test at the scent station at the museum. A push of a button sends out a scent-national smell from jets. Each station combines different scents to create distinct smells. The scents become even more complex at the Smell Synth – a synthesizer-esque smell experiment where guests can mix aromas to create favorite smells. There’s a chart with suggested combinations – including pancakes (combining maple and butter) and even gross scents (such as fresh vomit!). Loved these creative stations, they are great fun for all ages.
Into the kitchen.
CHOW: Culinary Studio
Enjoy tastings created by the country’s most talented Chinese American chefs, including Doron Wong (Northern Tiger), Jonathan Wu (Fung Tu), Jeremiah Stone (Contra/Wildair), Irene Li (Mei Mei), Chris Cheung (East Wind Snack Shop), and Lee Anne Wong (Koko Head Cafe).
Watching the cooking in action.
The open kitchen format allows for chefs to interact and connect with the guests. Each month, MOFAD will feature a different tasting:
- December: Honey Walnut Shrimp, Chef Jonathan Wu (Fung Tu)
- January: Five Pepper Kung Pao Chicken, Chef Irene Li (Mei Mei Restaurant / Mei Mei Street Kitchen)
- February: Tofu with Crab Sauce, Chef Jeremiah Stone (Contra / Wildair)
Our tasting was the Five Pepper Kung Pao Chicken. We watched the chef meticulously craft our dish – and explain each ingredient in detail. This specific dish also demonstrated the “velveting” cooking technique – coating the chicken or meat before stir-frying or deep-frying which locks in the flavor and juices.
The “tasting” potion was actually quite large, and served in a bamboo dish, complete with chopsticks, of course.
Fair warning: our chicken dish was actually quite spicy (too spicy for most kids!) but the chef was kind enough to make our little guy a plain dish instead.
All Boxed Up
Our little guy couldn’t get enough of the amazing Chinese Take-Out container curtain. The beautifully displayed box curtain was created from over 7,250 (!) takeout boxes. Each box represents approximately 7 of the nearly 50,000 Chinese restaurants across the US.
The perfect place to get boxed up…
…for a yummy photo opp.
MOFAD (Museum of Food and Drink)
Location: 62 Bayard Street, Brooklyn, NY
Dates/Times: Friday, Saturday, Sunday only. Noon to 6 PM. Exhibit runs through February.
Tickets: Tickets and More Information HERE
Ticket includes (unlimited!) fortune cookies and a small complimentary tasting at the Chow Culinary Studio. Children 5 and under are FREE.
The Museum of Food and Drink’s CHOW Exhibit was featured in our weekly Kid Picks Column! Be sure to follow our column for weekly events and city activities HERE