Lean Cuisine celebrates their Chinese-inspired dishes at MOFAD

FullSizeRender-2In 1953, frozen meals were a thing of the future that promised convenience and ease for the average housewife. TV dinners guaranteed a hearty meal complete with side dishes and dessert, all neatly packaged in an aluminum tray. Mothers simply needed to pop the astronaut food into the oven for one hour and voila, dinner was served. Well, we’ve come a long way since the days of Salisbury steaks and apple cobblers.

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Lean Cuisine has been an innovator in the frozen food industry since the 1980s, and has committed to making dishes that are convenient and nutritious. In honor of their newest line of Chinese-inspired meals, Lean Cuisine partnered with the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) to host a handful of publications at the museum in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Representatives from magazines including Food Network Magazine, Reader’s Digest, and Women’s Health were led through the museum’s exhibit Chow: Making the Chinese American. Patrons begin the tour by walking through a floor to ceiling wall of red and white hanging Chinese takeout boxes. Each box represented 7 of the 50,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States, which is about three times the number of McDonald’s restaurants. The exhibit tells the 170-year story of Chinese-American restaurants, complete with menus dating back to the early 1900s and a fortune cookie machine named Miss Cleo.

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Following the tour, two chefs from the Lean Cuisine test kitchen demonstrated how to make one of their most popular Chinese meals, garlic sesame noodles with beef. The chefs explained that it took years to find a way to properly freeze and reheat rice noodles without compromising their flavor and texture. After experimenting with recipes and working closely with scientists, the chefs were able to develop a dish that exemplified their gold standard.

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After the demonstration Chef Angie Mar (Owner of Beatrice Inn) took over the cooking range to make her father’s recipe for steamed porgy fish. As a proud Chinese American, Mar discussed her family’s story of hardship and intolerance during the Chinese Exclusion Act that took place from 1882 to 1943. The museum’s exhibit is one of the first to shine light on the discriminatory act that forced Chinese Immigrants to open restaurants and serve Chop Suey as their only means of income.

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As a parting gift, Lean Cuisine gave each guest a wok and Chinese cooking spices to recreate the dishes that the chefs demonstrated. And for those lazy evenings, the company also gave each guest four of their frozen Chinese meals, which their nutrition advisor said are best served with a serving of fresh fruits or vegetables.

I know I’ll be saving the orange chicken with coconut rice for a rainy day, or whenever Seamless goes under.

Photos by Halley Crane