In a world as obsessed with food and drink as ours, it’s difficult to believe we lack a museum dedicated to the very object of our infatuation. With the advent of food porn and amateur photos of dishes from around the globe inundating all social media platforms, we have never been more interested in what we are eating and where it is coming from. Chef Dave Arnold understood the crucial importance of building a dedicated space to the intricacies of the gastronomic world. For this reason, he has spent the last ten years tirelessly working to open the Museum of Food and Drink.
Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD)
The museum opened its doors on October 28, 2015, in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. As intended, the Museum of Food and Drink—MOFAD—enlists the noses, eyes, and palates of visitors to craft their experiences, and the first exhibition does not disappoint. Flavor: Making It and Faking It is a dynamic walk through the history, physiology, science and culture of taste. From smell-machines to tasting tablets the exhibition aims to define the blurred lines of natural and artificial flavors, allowing guests to smell and taste for themselves the difference between pure vanilla beans and vanillin, or to compare the sensory experience of eating MSG compared to natural sources of umami (think mushrooms and seaweed). MOFAD is committed to exploring and explaining the science behind what we eat and drink, and this initial exhibition tackles how we experience natural and chemical flavors and what it means to craft flavors in the comfort of a lab versus those derived from nature.
Galleries inside the Museum of Food and Drink
This inaugural exhibit is the first significant step toward Dave Arnold’s ultimate goal of a large-scale, fully curated museum dedicated to food and drink, a place where he hopes to challenge the way we think about what it is we put in our bodies, taking on fundamental elements of food culture, such as flavor, as well as exploring and honoring specific ingredients or creations that have changed our society. One such example of the latter was a preview exhibit of sorts, launched during New York’s Summer Streets festival. Boom! The Puffing Gun and the Rise of Cereal. The display brought to life the 3,200-pound ‘puffing machine’ used to create various types of cereal and the ‘explosive’ show received wide praise. Boom!: The Puffing Gun and the Rise of Cereal is still on display in mobile form, an entirely unique food education experience traveling throughout New York and beyond.
Now at home in their newly minted brick-and-mortar digs, MOFAD looks forward to seeing their exhibitions grow and come to life. The goal of the large-scale museum to open by the end of 2019 is firmly in place. In the meantime, Dave Arnold and his team will cater to all our senses, inviting us to connect with what it is we eat and drink. ■