06 Calendar

August 2016
Contact: Wendy Malloy
Museum of History & Industry PR
206 324 1126 Ext. 150


New exhibition reveals Seattle’s culinary history from raw ingredients to polished plates


Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry Presents Edible City: A Delicious Journey

August 6, 2016

SEATTLE, WA – In Seattle, food has always meant more than a meal. The city’s journey from the earliest oyster middens to the modern four-star restaurants is a reflection of Seattle’s geography, history, and people. Edible City: A Delicious Journey, organized by Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) and on view Nov 19, 2016 – Sept 10, 2017, serves up the story of how Seattleites eat in their city and how urban palates have developed over the years.

Curated by two-time James Beard Award winning food writer Rebekah Denn, Edible City uncovers the secret history of Seattle’s favorite foods. You’ll learn the origins of the Rainier cherry, view the recipe that inspired the phenomenal Cinnabon, see treasures from the long history of Pike Place Market, get acquainted with the man behind the city’s first sushi bar, and debate Seattle’s signature dishes. Our displays include items close to the city’s heart and histories, from Seattle’s first espresso cart to the tools of the former Sagamiya bakery.

“For nearly two centuries, Seattle has been a region whose culinary traditions, like its people, are distinguished by the confluence of cultures, the wise use of natural resources, and the willingness (and oftentimes necessity) to try something new,” said Leonard Garfield, MOHAI’s Executive Director. “Edible City: A Delicious Journeyy celebrates that rich heritage, saluting the roots of a unique food culture while heralding the new faces and new techniques that are forever reinventing our city. We are thrilled to bring this important exhibition to Seattle.”

Shaped by the Pacific Northwest passion for food and culture, Seattle has become one of the country’s top places to eat and innovate. And, while it took more than a century to establish a definable Seattle cuisine, its raw ingredients were here all along.

Seattle’s geography had traditionally allowed fishermen, foragers, and farmers to feed themselves. Its waterways and shores were rich Native harvesting grounds for every sort of wild food, from salmon to smelt. Tribal members dug wapato bulbs and picked serviceberries, little known today beyond private tribal events or educational presentations. They also foraged delicacies as trendy on modern restaurant plates as blackcap raspberries and miner’s lettuce.

“As for dining out, there have been eateries in Seattle just about as long as there have been workers here to support them,” said Denn. “The cedar-plank Yesler’s Cookhouse, built in 1853, is credited as the original Seattle restaurant—as well as its first civic center, courthouse, general hangout, and jail.”

As our city has grown and evolved, so have our choices about what we eat and why. Though the faces have changed, there are common threads behind the people who provide our foods.

“We’ve come to see that our city’s foods are both local and global, as exuberant as a public market and as intimate as a garden patch,” said Denn. “We’re as contemporary as a vegan food truck and as timelessly elegant as a plate of vermouth poached prawns. From the view of Mount Rainier to the huckleberries foraged on its sunny slopes, from savory pho to sweet fair-trade chocolate, the food we eat is an integral part of the city we love.”

Structured in a combination of six thematic sections, Edible City takes visitors on a culinary journey through Seattle.

Raw Ingredients is the first section and explores what is a “Seattle” food, and why? Visitors visually dine on both imported and native foods that are the building blocks of Seattle’s cuisine.

The second section is Processing and Prepping and explores the industries that shaped a savory Seattle, from canneries to coffee roasters.

In Market-to-Market, visitors sample the places where Seattleites go to the market. Guests learn about the outlets that help define the city, from co-ops to farmers markets to ethnic markets, big and small.

The next section, Bringing it Home, spotlights the region’s home cooking through a real, preserved Seattle kitchen. The history of food justice in the area through P-Patches, community gardens, and other efforts to bring homegrown food to diverse communities is studied.

Cooking Tech-niques examines how Seattle high-tech jobs have made its residents look at cooking in a whole new way in the fifth course. Sniff out some of the area’s groundbreaking food-tech endeavors.

The final section focuses on Serving it Up. Here, visitors survey the rich and diverse banquet of restaurants that have been around almost as long as there have been city dwellers here to support them. Meet the farm-to-table chefs who have made Seattle a national dining destination, and savor the way they developed a modern Northwest cuisine.

Edible City will be supported by programs ranging from food tastings to cooking demonstrations, featuring some of the region’s best and brightest food experts and revealing the stories that transformed Seattle into one of America’s best places to eat.

MOHAI has gathered 30 of the city’s brightest chefs, culinary entrepreneurs, food sourcing education professionals, service industry leaders, and food technology professionals, to advise and collaborate on program development for this unique and ambitious exhibition. World-renowned chefs/restaurants and companies represented on the committee include Tom Douglas Restaurants, Matt Dillon Restaurants Theo Chocolate, Starbucks Coffee Company, Sugar Mountain, All Recipes, and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

The exhibit is accompanied by a companion book, Edible City. Written by Denn, Edible City unveils the complex and progressive narrative of how Seattle’s vibrant food scene went from its first restaurant to what it is today. The Edible City publication is supported by Laird Norton Wealth Management.

Edible City: A Delicious Journey is presented by The Boeing Company with generous support provided by Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center, PCC Natural Markets, The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, Tulalip Tribes, 4Culture, Uwajimaya Inc, and Laird Norton Wealth Management. Media sponsors are The Seattle Times and KUOW. The promotional partner is Visit Seattle.

Upcoming Programs and Events Related to Edible City: A Delicious Journey

Edible City Opening Member Party
Friday, November 18
Members only
Connect with members and friends to celebrate the opening of Edible City: A Delicious Journey. Devour the exhibit in the tastiest way—a private viewing party for members only.

Not a member? Join today and connect with Seattle’s rich history while becoming part of its future. Membership at MOHAI guarantees year-round, unlimited access to riveting stories while preserving the artifacts and narratives that shape Seattle. Be a part of it, learn more at or call 206 324 1126 Ext 194.

Edible City Opening Day Celebration
November 19
10 am–5 pm
Included with admission
Celebrate the opening of Edible City with a taste of the history and culture of Northwest cuisine. Tour the exhibit with notable chefs, nibble on unique offerings from local businesses, watch local food films, and more.

Location, Hours and Admission

MOHAI is located at 860 Terry Ave. N in Seattle. Exhibit gallery hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily. Admission is free on first Thursdays and the galleries are open until 8 pm (special extended hours from 10 am to 8 pm on Thursdays during July and August. Regular admission applies). Admission to Edible City: A Delicious Journey is included with regular MOHAI admission of $19.95 for adults, $15.95 for seniors (62 and above); $13.95 for students and military (with ID); free for children 14 and under (when accompanied by an adult) and MOHAI members. For more information, call 206 324 1126.


MOHAI is dedicated to enriching lives through preserving, sharing, and teaching the diverse history of Seattle, the Puget Sound region, and the nation. As the largest private heritage organization in the State of Washington; the museum engages communities through interactive exhibits, online resources, and award-winning public and youth education programs.

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