This February Theatre Chef Leo Burtin will be taking Manchester Jewish Museum audiences on an online culinary journey through its collection – and they can join in from home too. They will prepare their own dishes at home, before joining Leo for an evening of tasting as he shares stories unearthed from the museum’s archives, each relating to the dish being served.
As the museum prepares to reopen in 2021 following a major capital development and extension, it has been presenting a series of online trailblazer events leading up to when it can open its doors once more. Eat the Archives: Appetiser is the latest in the museum’s trailblazer season and will bring the museum’s stories of Manchester’s Jewish community to life through taste in a unique experience combining history and dining on Thursday 25 February.
Audiences will receive recipes and spice kits in advance and are encouraged to prepare their meals ready for the event, so that everyone can taste together as Leo shares the personal stories behind each dish. Each of the stories come from the museum’s extensive archive and oral history collection, which documents the history of Manchester’s diverse Jewish community and the individuals and communities that helped form it.
Theatre Chef Leo Burtin explains why food is such a powerful way of sharing and connecting: “Eating with others is an opportunity to share the stories that matter to us without using words, calling instead on our other senses. If we are what we eat, then eating together is an opportunity to have more in common while celebrating our differences.”
The event will take place on the first evening of Purim, the Jewish festival celebrating the saving of Jewish people from persecution in the ancient Persian Empire (also known as ‘The Feast of Lots’). At the heart of Purim is a feast in which family and friends gather for a festive meal. Whilst traditional Purim festivities have been constrained by the impact of the pandemic, the museum hopes this event will provide an alternative way to come together and eat with others during extraordinary circumstances.
Food will be at the heart of the new museum, as the multi-million-pound development includes a brand new café and a learning studio and kitchen where visitors and schools will be able to bake, cook and eat traditional Jewish recipes.
Manchester Jewish Museum’s Chief Executive Max Dunbar talks of the role food will play in the museum: “We see the museum becoming like a ‘living room’ for the communities of Cheetham Hill and beyond, and our new café and learning kitchen are at the heart of that. Food is integral to creating a space for connection, where people can really feel a sense of belonging and ownership. It will bring people together.”
The new café and learning kitchen will open along with the main museum later in 2021 and will provide a learning experience for visitors to explore Jewish culture and tradition, as well as serving delicious food and refreshments.
The wider Eat the Archives project will continue over the summer, as part of Leo’s artist residency with the museum. It will create a theatrical dining experience like no other, in which audiences will be able to physically dine together as they share stories, recipes and memories in a variety of settings.
Eat the Archives: Appetiser will take place online at 7pm on Thursday 25 February. For more information visit: www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com