British Library Food Season 2020

The British Library has announced the line-up for its reimagined Food Season, which will be hosted online for the first time.

Launching with a live broadcast from River Cottage with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and closing with Tom Kerridge at The Hand and Flowers, the Food Season will feature a range of writers, historians and chefs from around the world.

Originally scheduled for spring 2020, the British Library’s third Food Season has been revamped to address the increasing questions and struggles around food production, supply, distribution and consumption following the coronavirus pandemic.

Drawing on the British Library’s food-related collections, the online programme of events, many of which are free to attend, will focus on the culture, history, sustainability, literature and future of food. Highlights include:

  • Monday 14 September, 6.30pm: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: You, Food and the Planet: Guild member, chef, writer and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall talks to another Guild member Bee Wilson about sustainability, food provenance and wellbeing.
  • Tuesday 15 September, 7.30pm: On Restaurants: The politics, challenges, inequalities, changes and motivators facing modern restaurants – and the extra pressures posed by the global pandemic on dining culture. With chefs and restaurateurs Asma Khan (Darjeeling Express), Tim Anderson (Nanban), Evening Standard food critic and Guild Award Winner Jimi Famurewa. Chaired by Tim Hayward.
  • Monday 21 September, 7pm: The Book of Jewish Food: Claudia Roden and Simon Schama: Guild Lifetime Achievement Award winner Claudia Roden and Simon Schama reflect on the history, culture and traditions of Jewish food.
  • Saturday 26 September, 2.30pm: Food Futures: The Choices Facing Us Now: Through this remarkable year, the key place of food in our lives has been put into greater prominence than ever. Supply chains and supermarkets, health and home cooking have been among our most vital concerns. What have we learned and how are things set to change? With food and farming actionist Dee Woods and Guild members Tim Lang Professor of Food Policy at City University London, and Dan Saladino of The Food Programme.
  • Saturday 26 September, 4pm: Beyond the Food Bank: Creating Community and Culture through Food: Meet the leaders behind food projects that aim to build cohesion and hope amidst isolation and desperation. Including Barny Houghton of Bristol's Square Food Foundation, Bana Gora of the Muslim Women’s Council and Jess Thompson of Migrateful. Chaired by journalist Stephen Armstrong, author of The New Poverty.
  • Tuesday 29 September, 7.30pm: Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World: Food shapes everything: our bodies, habits, homes, landscapes, cities, politics and economics. We can make revolutionary change simply by properly understanding and valuing it. With urban visionary Carolyn Steel, author of Hungry City and Sitopia, and food campaigner and CEO of Sustain, Kath Dalmeny.
  • Saturday 3 October, 3pm: Mood Food: Jack Monroe and Kimberley Wilson: A frank and informative event about food, diet and mental health. With food-writer Jack Monroe and psychologist Kimberley Wilson.
  • Saturday 3 October, 4.30pm: River Cottage: More Taste, Less Waste: We all know that we need to reduce food waste but in practice it's often difficult to do. Food-writer Melissa Hemsley and Gelf Alderson, Executive Chef at River Cottage, discuss the issues and demonstrate solutions for minimising food waste at home.
  • Tuesday 6 October, 5pm: Cookery Books Collection: Curators from the British Library, Leeds Library Service and Special Collections at the University of Leeds pick out a small selection of varied cookery books from their collections. From Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera dell'arte del cucinare (1570) to Catherine Buckton’s Food and Home Cookery (1890) and Len Deighton’s Action Cook Book (1965) this online event will take a snapshot look at how cookery books have been created, used and collected through history and their relationship with wider culture. 
  • Friday 9 October, 7.30pm: Feeding our Children: The way we think and feel about food as children can dramatically influence our lifelong relationship with it. Consider the politics and practicalities of feeding children with Guild member, award winning food writer and chair of TastEd Bee Wilson, chef Gita Mistry, Headteacher Jason O’Rourke and nutritionist Anna S Ólafsdóttir.
  • Tuesday 13 October, 7,30pm: Ken Hom’s 'Stir-Fried Life' with Fuchsia Dunlop: Chef, author and presenter Ken Hom has been hugely influential in developing understanding around the world of what Chinese food really is and how to cook it. He talks to award winning food writer and Guild member Fuchsia Dunlop about his remarkable life and career and they share perspectives on Chinese food, both inside and outside its homeland.
  • Wednesday 14 October, 7.30pm: Black British Food Stories: Origins, Journeys and Junctions: Join food writer and BBC Good Food Columnist Melissa Thompson for a discussion about Black food and the politics, potential and problems it faces in Britain. With Tokunbo Koiki, founder of London Africa Food Week, Riaz Phillips, author of Belly Full and Community Comfort and Zoe Adjonyoh, founder of Zoe's Ghana Kitchen and the Black Book, the agency for people of colour in the food industry.
  • Friday 16 October, 7.30pm: Borough Market presents Trading Places: Will COVID-19 change our relationship with food forever?: Lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic have put the challenges and pressure-points of where, and how, we get our food into sharp focus. This event in partnership with Borough Market considers how consumers have access to ‘good’, ‘healthy’ or ‘cheap’ food in our mid/post COVID-19 world, and explores the role of supermarkets, local markets, community shops, delivery services, small producers and more. With managing director at Borough Market Darren Henaghan, founding director of the Sustainable Food Trust Patrick Holden, food writer Jenny Linford and Biteback 2030 youth activist Tasha Mhakayakora. Chaired by Food Season guest director Angela Clutton. 
  • Tuesday 20 October, 5pm: Tom Kerridge in Conversation: Michelin-starred chef, bestselling author and BBC presenter Tom Kerridge in conversation from the legendary Hand and Flowers talking about his life, career and the impending release of his latest book, based on recipes from The Hand and Flowers, which is the first (and only) pub in the world to acquire two Michelin stars.

The programme is curated by Food Season founder Dr Polly Russell, and Guest Director award-winning food writer and former Guild Chair, Angela Clutton.

The British Library’s Food Season is generously supported by KitchenAid. Members’ and Patrons’ Priority booking opens on Tuesday 1 September, and tickets will be on general sale on Wednesday 2 September.

For more information, images or interview requests, please contact alice.carter@bl.uk 

For more information go to bl.uk/events/food-season.