The British Library Announces Food Season 2020

The British Library has announced the line-up for its reimagined Food Season (14 September – 20 October 2020), which will be hosted online for the first time.


Priority booking opens to Members and Patrons on Tuesday 1 September and the events will go on general sale on Wednesday 2 September 2020, with tickets ranging from free to £5.

Credit: Matt Austin

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:

  • Chef, writer and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall talking to food writer, journalist and historian Bee Wilson about sustainability, food provenance and wellbeing live from River Cottage

  • A frank and revealing event about food, diet and mental health with food writer Jack Monroe and psychologist Kimberley Wilson

  • Chef, author and presenter Ken Hom and award-winning food writer Fuchsia Dunlop sharing their perspectives on Chinese food 

  • Food writer and BBC Good Food columnist Melissa Thompson discussing 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

  • Michelin-starred chef, author and presenter Tom Kerridge live from The Hand and Flowers, which is the only pub in the world to acquire two Michelin stars

  • Food writer Melissa Hemsley demonstrating solutions for minimising food waste at home with Gelf Alderson, Executive Chef at River Cottage

  • Curators from three different libraries, including Polly Russell from the British Library, select items from their collections to take a snapshot look at how cookery books have been created, used and collected through history 

  • Chefs and restauranteurs Asma Khan from Darjeeling Express and Tim Anderson from Nanban discussing alongside food critic and Masterchef judge Jimi Famurewa the issues modern restaurants face and the extra pressures posed by the global pandemic

  • Legendary food writer Claudia Roden in conversation with historian Simon Schama on the history, culture and traditions of Jewish food

The British Library’s Food Season is generously supported by KitchenAid. The programme is curated by Food Season founder Dr Polly Russell, and Guest Director award-winning food writer, Angela Clutton. Priority booking opens to Members and Patrons on Tuesday 1 September and the events will go on general sale on Wednesday 2 September 2020, with tickets ranging from free to £5.


Dr Polly Russell, food historian and founder of the British Library Food Season, said:  ‘We are pleased to have reimagined the British Library’s third Food Season, which will now take place online and, as well as exploring food histories and cultures, will address the in-creasing questions and struggles around food production, supply, distribution and consumption following the coronavirus pandemic. Although the programme will assume a different perspective, we are delighted to still be able to feature some of the best known and most respected voices in the world of food to inspire and entertain you in the comfort of your own home – no matter where in the world you are.’ Mark Ridealgh, Market Leader UK & Ireland, KitchenAid SDA comments:  ‘We’re delighted to continue our support of the Food Season at the British Library. KitchenAid believes in ‘Making the Everyday Extraordinary’ and through our family of iconic appliances our goal is to awaken the spirit of making in everyone – regardless of their skill level. We’re excited to be joining such an exalted line-up of writers, historians and chefs who share our passion for food and cookery from around the world.’ The reimagined 2020 Food Season at the British Library will feature: Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall: You, Food and the Planet Monday 14 September, 18.30 – 19.45 (£5) In a special event to launch the British Library Food Season, chef, writer and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall talks to Bee Wilson about sustainability, food provenance and wellbeing. As the new decade brings new levels of anxiety about our health – and the planet’s — Hugh wants to discuss, among other things, the importance of a good meal, a good walk and a good story. Chaired by Food Season founder and curator Polly Russell On Restaurants Tuesday 15 September, 19.30 – 20.30 (free) 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 restauranteurs Asma Khan (Darjeeling Express), Tim Anderson (Nanban), Evening Standard food critic Jimi Famurewa. Chaired by Tim Hayward. The Book of Jewish Food: Claudia Roden and Simon Schama  Monday 21 September, 19.00 – 20.15 (£5) One of our greatest food writers Claudia Roden is joined by historian Simon Schama to reflect on the history, culture and traditions of Jewish food. Food Futures: The Choices Facing Us Now Saturday 26 September, 14.30 – 15.30 (free) 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 Tim Lang Professor of Food Policy at City University London, food and farm-ing actionist Dee Woods and Dan Saladino of The Food Programme.  Beyond the Food Bank: Creating Community and Culture through Food Saturday 26 September, 16.00 – 17.00 (free) 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. How Food Can Save the World Tuesday 29 September, 19.30 – 20.30 (£5) Food shapes everything: our bodies, habits, homes, landscapes, cities, politics and economics. We can make a 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. Mood Food: Jack Monroe and Kimberley Wilson Saturday 3 October, 15.00 – 16.00 (£5) A frank and informative event about food, diet and mental health. With food-writer Jack Mon-roe and psychologist Kimberley Wilson. River Cottage: More Taste, Less Waste Saturday 3 October, 16.30– 17.30 (free) 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. Cookery Books Collection Tuesday 6 October, 17.00 – 18.00 (free) 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 the wider culture.  Feeding our Children Friday 9 October, 19.30 – 20.30 (free) 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 award-winning food writer and chair of TastEd Bee Wilson, chef Gita Mistry, Headteacher Jason O’Rourke and nutritionist Anna S Ólafsdóttir. Ken Hom’s 'Stir-Fried Life' with Fuchsia Dunlop Tuesday 13 October, 19.300 – 20.305 (£5) 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 Fuchsia Dunlop about his remarkable life and career and they share perspectives on Chinese food, both inside and outside its homeland. Black British Food Stories: Origins, Journeys and Junctions Wednesday 14 October, 19.30 0 – 20.30 (free) 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. Borough Market presents Trading Places: Will COVID-19 change our relationship with food forever? Friday 16 October, 19.30 – 20.30 (free) 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.  Tom Kerridge in Conversation: 'The Hand and Flowers' Tuesday 20 October, 17.00 – 18.00 (£5) Tom Kerridge - Michelin-starred chef, bestselling author and BBC presenter - 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.      

More details : https://www.bl.uk/events/food-season