Dishing Up Toronto: Gathering Around the Kitchen Table

2017, Culture, Digital, Program/Event, Temporary Exhibit, Toronto Ward Museum
blog, diaspora, event photos, food and drink, home, identity, immigration, logo, multi-sensory, photography, Toronto
About This Project

Partner: The Toronto Ward Museum

Venue: Montgomery’s Inn – map

Project Members: Anja Hamilton, Erika Robertson, and Rachael Thiessen


Visitors are invited to engage in dialogue and express their identities as migrants by sharing their own stories about dishes that remind them of home. Sourcing, adapting, and eating familiar foods is an important process of negotiating a sense of belonging in the ever-changing city of Toronto.


This expansion of Dishing Up Toronto broadens Toronto’s heritage narratives by reaching out to racially diverse youth and young adults, as well as foodies and activists. These audiences co-create and co-deliver content through user-generated content to the blog, A selection of the stories is exhibited as part of Gathering Around the Kitchen Table.


The exhibition is on display in the Community Room of Montgomery’s Inn in Etobicoke from April 1 – 30, 2017. The venue is regularly activated by food events, including a weekly farmers’ market and the Montgomery’s Inn Culinary Arts Project (MICAP), a youth cooking program. Thus the exhibit theme, Gathering Around the Kitchen Table, contextualizes the conversations happening in the Community Room.


This project is a collaboration between the Toronto Ward Museum, the City of Toronto, and the Culinaria Research Centre, with support from the Faculty of Information. Montgomery’s Inn and Mackenzie House, two City of Toronto historic sites, provided space for the exhibition and programming events in-kind, as well as staff support and assistance in promoting the exhibition and events. Students from the Culinaria Research Centre at the University of Toronto Scarborough provided content for the online blog as part of their course work.


The project began in September 2016, when the Toronto Ward Museum was approached by the City of Toronto with the possibility of collaborating on programming events in the spring of 2017. Planning and preparation for the three components of the project took approximately four months, and the blog launched in January 2017. Outreach for blog content continued over the next two months. Content from the blog became the foundation for the exhibition. Printing and installing the exhibition took four days. The exhibition opened to the public on March 30, 2017. It will close on April 30, 2017. Planning and coordinating the programming events, including marketing, took three months. Breaking Bread happened on April 1st at Montgomery’s Inn, and Hungering for Inclusion will happen on April 15th at Mackenzie House.


The Dishing Up Toronto Tumblr blog is an online platform that invites the public, including both Tumblr users and non-Tumblr users, to submit a photo and story about food, which they feel helps tell their story of migration. Gathering Around the Kitchen Table was an exhibition that included text panels and images selected from the blog. Five unique stories of migration to Toronto are displayed, alongside a photograph that the author of the story feels represents their story. Introduction and conclusion panels locate the stories at Montgomery’s Inn and invite the viewer to reflect on their own migration story and to share it on the blog. The Dishing Up Toronto programming events, Breaking Bread and Hungering for Inclusion, bring those conversations about food and migration to the forefront through cooking, eating, and dialogue.


The blog, exhibition, and events are publicized through promotional postcards and social media. The City of Toronto, the City of Toronto Historic Sites, Montgomery’s Inn, and Mackenzie House promote the exhibition and events through their own social media networks. Additional programming, besides the two Dishing Up Toronto events, will include a school tour at Montgomery’s Inn for thirty-six Grade 3 students, with a scaled-down version of Breaking Bread and a curator’s tour of the exhibition.


As of April 2017, the Dishing Up Toronto blog has 54 posts and 8 followers. The project team visited seven farmers’ markets across the Greater Toronto Area and produced documentation to guide the next administrators of the blog in all aspects of outreach and maintaining the blog. The exhibition is in a place that is regularly used for community events, ensuring a high traffic flow. The two programming events will have engaged approximately 30 participants.


We would like to thank Gracia Dyer Jalea, the Founding Executive Director of the Toronto Ward Museum; Matthew Brower, the Director of the Museum Studies Program; Dan Bender, the Director of the Culinaria Research Centre; Lena Mortensen, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UTSC; Alexandra Kim and Lauren McCallum, staff at Montgomery’s Inn; and Nancy Reynolds and Chris Theofilogiannakos, staff at Mackenzie House.