Food museum in Brooklyn

SEPTEMBER 11, 201511:57 AM ET
The Food and Drink Museum will open in its first permanent home – a mini-museum in Brooklyn — in October. The plan is to move into a bigger, final home by 2019. Above, an artist's rendering shows one potential exhibit – on ready-to-eat cereal — in MOFAD's final space. In the foreground is an extruder, a giant machine used to cook and shape cereal.

The Food and Drink Museum will open in its first permanent home – a mini-museum in Brooklyn — in October. The plan is to move into a bigger, final home by 2019. Above, an artist’s rendering shows one potential exhibit – on ready-to-eat cereal — in MOFAD’s final space. In the foreground is an extruder, a giant machine used to cook and shape cereal.

Courtesy of Museum of Food and Drink

How did we get vanilla flavor without a vanilla bean? Or chicken flavor made from all-vegetarian ingredients?

Though humans have been enjoying the sensory pleasures of flavor since we first popped food into our mouths, the flavor industry itself is relatively new. And this modern business of manufacturing smell and taste will be the theme of the Museum of Food and Drink‘s first exhibit in a brick and mortar space of its very own: a “mini-museum” opening in Brooklyn on Oct. 28.

The small space, dubbed MOFAD Lab, will be the first permanent home for a project already years into the making. The idea for MOFAD was first conceived in 2012, says executive director Peter Kim. “There wasn’t a good precedent for what we were trying to do,” he explains.

What they’re trying to do, in essence, is create a world-class museum that combines the multisensory experience of eating with information about the history, commerce, science and culture of food. As we’ve reported, hundreds of institutions exist devoted to regional cuisines or specific foods — there are museums for chocolate, cheese, fish and Spam, for starters. But MOFAD’s vision is much grander – and interactive.

Until now, the public has only been able to glimpse that vision through a series of small, one-off events.

Last year, MOFAD announced itself with a bang by staging its first, temporary public exhibit: It featured an industrial cereal puffing gun — the type used in the early 20th century to make cereals like Cheerios or Kix light and airy. The gun played an important role in the development of the breakfast industry. Rather than simply put the gun in a display case, MOFAD decided to make the thing actually work.

“There’s something very symbolic, of course, about starting the process with something that literally explodes,” says Kim. It was a one-item microcosm of the types of exhibits the museum hoped to host in the future.

Last year, MOFAD announced itself with a bang by staging its first, temporary public exhibit, called BOOM! It featured an industrial cereal puffing gun — the type used in the early 20th century to make cereals like Cheerios or Kix light and airy.

Last year, MOFAD announced itself with a bang by staging its first, temporary public exhibit, called BOOM! It featured an industrial cereal puffing gun — the type used in the early 20th century to make cereals like Cheerios or Kix light and airy.

Naveen Thomas/Courtesy of Museum of Food and Drink

After that grand entrance, the brain trust behind MOFAD which includes an advisory board of food industry luminaries like food science writer Harold McGee and celebrity chef Mario Batali staged a series of talks. (It’s founder and president, Dave Arnold, is an industry powerhouse known for his scientific approach to food and drink innovation.) These MOFAD Roundtables brought together experts with opposing viewpoints for discussions on topics like GMOs, proposed bans on soda and the future of meat. Occasionally, the events got heated enough that participants ended up shouting at each other. (MOFAD is not yesteryear’s library-silent museum.)

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