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The British Library Announces Food Season Line Up

Today the British Library announces its 2021 Food Season (13 April – 26 May 2021) featuring:

Calum Franklin in The Pie Room at Holborn Dining Room (credit John Carey), British Library Food Season 2021

• Actor, food and travel writer Madhur Jaffrey live from her home in New York in conversation with Ravinder Bhogal, food-writer and chef-restaurateur of London’s Jikoni

• Legendary chef Raymond Blanc live from Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons discussing a lifetime of food with award-winning food-writer Felicity Cloake

• Chef Calum Franklin live from his bespoke pie room at London’s Holborn Dining Room demonstrating one of his pastry showstoppers

• Author Pen Vogler joined by writer Ruby Tandoh and campaigner Dee Woods to discuss eating, culture, class and identity in modern Britain

• Food writer Riaz Phillips, cookery writer, former restaurateur and community cook Rosamund Grant and scholar Joe Williams tapping into stories of migration, belonging and community through Caribbean food

• Professor Emily Contois exploring food and masculinity with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge

• Chef Heston Blumenthal paying tribute to food science writer Harold McGee

Drawing on the British Library’s extensive collection of manuscripts, printed books, newspapers, magazines, sound recordings and oral histories relating to the production, distribution and consumption of food, the series of online events will feature chefs, historians and food writers broadcast from their restaurants, kitchens and homes.

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.

Dr Polly Russell, food historian and Head of The Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, said: ‘From world-class cookery books to oral history recordings about cooking and eating, the British Library holds extensive and, in some cases, unique collections relating to food. I am thrilled the Library will once again be hosting renowned and emerging chefs, historians and food writers to discuss a range of ideas, experiences and cultures associated with food. We are incredibly proud of the events planned for this year’s Food Season and look forward to providing shared social and cultural experiences, no matter where in the world you are.’

Simon Langley, Marketing Manager, UK & Ireland, KitchenAid SDA comments: ‘We’re thrilled to continue our support of the evermore exciting Food Season at the British Library. KitchenAid believes in awakening and championing the spirit of making in everyone and through our collection of iconic appliances our goal is to open doors to new possibilities and help makers of all skill levels celebrate and enjoy food from around the world. For the third year running, it's a real honour to support such a stellar line-up of writers, historians and chefs.’

Priority booking opens to Members and Patrons today and the events will go on general sale on Wednesday 17 March 2021, with tickets ranging from free to £7.50.

To celebrate the launch of this year’s Food Season, the British Library and KitchenAid are hosting a competition for five people to win a KitchenAid cordless suite (comprising a food chopper, hand blender and hand mixer), a place on a digital cooking class and a signed copy of The Pie Room by chef Calum Franklin.

2021 Food Season at the British Library

Nose Dive with Harold McGee

Tuesday 13 April, 19.30-20.30 (£5)

What is smell? How does it work? And why is it a key component in taste? In this special event to launch the 2021 Food Season, the leading expert on the science of food and cooking, Harold McGee, talks about our most overlooked sense to food-writer Tara Wigley, whose work as collaborator on several Ottolenghi cookbooks celebrates her appreciation of all our senses when it comes to enjoying food.

Men and Food, Dudes and Diets

Friday 16 April, 18.00-19.00 (£5)

Professor Emily Contois’ recent book Diners, Dudes and Diets explores how food, gender and power collide, so who better to discuss this with than someone who is no stranger to the politics and passions of the professional kitchen, Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge?


Saturday 17 April, 15.00-16.30 (free)

Hosted by award-winning food-writers Lindsey Bareham and Georgina Hayden with Food Season Guest Director Angela Clutton, this will be an interactive event where we’ll share thoughts on home cooking, discuss the cookery books we love and the recipes we could not live without.

Cyanide and Marmalade

Wednesday 21 April, 18.30-19.30 (£5)

Whether comforting and reassuring or menacing and ominous, food plays a key role in creating mood, character and plot in crime fiction. Discover the murderous, devious and cunning world of writing about food and crime with the author of The Little Library books, Kate Young.

In the Kitchen with Bill Buford and Jonathan Meades

Wednesday 21 April, 19.45-20.45 (£5)

Bill Buford’s acclaimed recent book Dirt is a vivid, hilarious and intimate account of a five-year odyssey in French cuisine. Buford talks to writer, essayist film-maker and former The Times restaurant critic Jonathan Meades ahead of his new anthology of uncollected writing from the past 30 years, Pedro and Ricky Come Again, appearing this spring.

The Art and History of Pies

Saturday 24 April, 16.00-17.00 (£5)

Famed for his intricate pastry designs and innovative fillings, chef Calum Franklin has revived the art of the pie in the UK. For this live session you are invited into the heart of Franklin’s bespoke pie room in London’s Holborn Dining Room to watch him create one of his pastry showstoppers while reflecting on the historical cooks, techniques and traditions that have inspired him.

From Fish Knives to Fish ‘n’ Chips

Tuesday 27 April, 19.30-20.30 (free)

Come and explore how our eating habits are, and always have been, loaded with centuries of class prejudice. With Pen Vogler, whose recent book Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain reveals how food and eating have long reflected and have been used to enforce social difference, joined by writer Ruby Tandoh and campaigner Dee Woods to discuss eating, culture and identity in modern Britain. Chaired by Babita Sharma, BBC journalist and author of The Corner Shop.

Simply Raymond

Saturday 1 May, 15.00-16.00 (£7.50)

Join legendary chef Raymond Blanc and award-winning food-writer Felicity Cloake as Raymond shares a lifetime of stories about food, his love affair with British produce, and talks about his latest cookbook, Simply Raymond: a collection of his favourite home-cooked recipes inspired by his beloved mother, Maman Blanc.

The Rise of New Food Media

Wednesday 5 May, 19.30-20.30 (free)

Four leading food writers, podcasters and editors at the forefront of the rise of contemporary food media discuss how different voices, agendas, and publishing tools are disrupting and revitalising the conversation about food. Food writer Melissa Thompson leads the discussion between three exciting voices in new food media and debates: founder and editor of Vittles online magazine Jonathan Nunn; Stephen Satterfield of US-based Whetstone magazine and podcast; and writer, academic and commentator Anna Sulan Masing.

Exhibiting Excess: Food through Art and History

Friday 7 May, 19.30-20.30 (£5)

Consultant food historian Ivan Day meets the curators of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge’s Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe (1500-1800) and the Louvre-Lens’ The Tables of Power: A History of Prestigious Meals talk about the journeys they took to bring these incredible food exhibitions to life.

Food Scribes, Food Lives

Tuesday 11 May, 17.30-18.30 (free)

Join three British Library curators as they select their favourite historical food manuscripts from the collections. From medieval recipes written on vellum to the varied food ingredients described within our Turkic collections, this session will examine what these items can tell us about cooking, diet, attitudes to food and how manuscripts offer wholly unique insights into food histories across time and place.

The British Cheese Playlist

Tuesday 11 May 19.30-20.30 (£5)

Featuring Ned Palmer, author of the acclaimed A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles, and Harry West, professor of anthropology at Exeter University and expert on artisan food. Chaired by Patrick McGuigan, author of the British Library publication The Philosophy of Cheese, this event includes a virtual British cheese tasting session, alongside discussion of their history, culture and production. Ahead of the event the audience will be provided with a list of cheeses being featured.

Food in Service. In the Service of Food

Wednesday 12 May, 19.30-20.30 (£5)

Join historians Dr Annie Grey and Sue Quinn in a conversation chaired by Dr Polly Russell about Georgina Landmere, who cooked for Winston Churchill, and one-time governess and shopkeeper Florence White, who started the English Folk Cookery Association, and what their lives tell us about food, cooking and eating in the times they lived.

On Restaurant Writing

Tuesday 18 May, 19.30-20.30 (£5)

Restaurant critics have the power to make or break a business, shape chef trends and influence food fashions. But who are their reviews written for, and what makes good restaurant writing? What is the responsibility of the food critic and how can the traditional forms of restaurant writing evolve for the times ahead? Led by Lisa Markwell, food editor of The Sunday Times, with restaurant critics Nicholas Lander, Financial Times, Jimi Famurewa, Evening Standard and Ligaya Mishan, New York Times.

Stories from Inside the Coffee Cup

Wednesday 19 May, 19.30-20.30 (£5)

In collaboration with Anna Sulan Masing’s Sourced project, this event will consider how we can tell new stories of coffee which include indigenous communities in their place of origin, re-think colonial structures, and decolonise our ideas of taste. With Raine Melissa Riman, whose research in Sarawak has been part of reviving a growing tradition that centres local communities; Thomas Haigh founder of Heaped coffee company developing products with small indigenous communities; and coffee-roaster Kenny Lee, the co-founder of Earthlings Coffee Workshop in Sarawak which is instrumental in promoting local coffee and localised coffee culture.

Madhur Jaffrey: A Life in Food

Thursday 20 May, 19.30-20.30 (£7.50)

For over 45 years Madhur Jaffrey has been revered around the world as the queen of Indian cooking. Her first book, An Invitation to Indian Cookery, was published in 1973 and her series for BBC television Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery made her a household name. Madhur is joining us live from her home in New York, and talking to Ravinder Bhogal - one of the most exciting modern food-writers and the chef-restaurateur of London’s Jikoni.

The People and Places of Caribbean Cooking

Wednesday 26 May, 19.30-20.30 (free)

Part of a wider oral history project, which is recording and archiving Caribbean food memories and stories, this event will tap into stories of migration, belonging and community organising. Panel members include food writer Riaz Phillips, independent scholar researching the African presence in Yorkshire Joe Williams, cookery writer, former restaurateur and community cook Rosamund Grant, and project-lead on Caribbean Foodways at the British Library Naomi Oppenheim.

More events will be released over the coming weeks and the latest programme can be found at


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