Heston Blumenthal, Nigella Lawson, Yotam Ottolenghi, Jack Monroe and Nadiya Hussain: The British Library announces Food Season line up

Heston Blumenthal - photo credit Alisa Connan

Featuring writers, historians, food experts and chefs, the British Library Food Season (1 April – 31 May 2019) will involve talks, tastings and workshops inspired by the Library’s extensive food-related collections.


Highlights include:

  • Chef Heston Blumenthal and award-winning composer Dominic Murcott contemplating the relationship between food and music through live performances, micro experiments and tastings
  • Chef and restaurant owner Yotam Ottolenghi exploring the role upbringing and genes play in shaping how we enjoy food
  • Food writers Nigella Lawson, Bee Wilson and Ella Risbridger exploring the role of voice, narrative and storytelling in cookery books
  • Restaurant critic Grace Dent and food writer, journalist and activist Jack Monroe discussing food inequality and poverty in contemporary Britain
  • 2015 Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain and presenter Sara Cox talking about food, cooking and what it means to be a working woman in the public eye
  • Restaurant critic and MasterChef judge Jay Rayner hosting a special recording of the BBC Radio 4’s culinary panel show, The Kitchen Cabinet
  • Award-winning Chocolat author Joanne Harris reflecting on the sensuality of food in fiction

The British Library’s Food Season is supported by KitchenAid.  Priority booking is available to Members from 1 March 2019 and tickets will be on general sale from 8 March 2019.

Polly Russell, Curator for Contemporary Politics and Public Life at the British Library curator and food historian, said:

‘Whether it is handwritten manuscripts of printed cookery books, letters and diaries revealing the intimate details of eating habits or in-depth oral histories of food producers, food is present in the British Library’s collections and I am thrilled the Library will be hosting its second Food Season this spring.  With such a range of topics and such wonderful speakers it is incredibly hard, impossible even, to decide what I’m most excited about this year but – with my historian’s hat on – the evolution of the kitchen and the discussion of cookbook design are a big draw.’

Helen Simpson, Marketing Manager at KitchenAid UK & Ireland, said:

“This year marks the 100th anniversary of our iconic Stand Mixer which has brought generations of families together in the kitchen - the heart of every home - to make memories that will last a lifetime.  What better time for us to support the great British Library Food Season and to share our passion for good food and cooking with both the Library’s visitors to St Pancras and its vast international online audience."

The Food Season at the British Library will feature:

Crossroads Cooking

Tuesday 2 April 19.00 - 20.30

Is there such a thing as culinary appropriation in a field that relies on sharing? Our panel discuss food and cross cultural exchange, and explore ‘crossroads cooking’, which draws inspiration from cuisines all over the world. Featuring Michelin-starred chef Ivan Brehm of Nouri in Singapore and food writer Sumayya Usmani. Chaired by Jill Norman.

£15 / £12 / £10 / Knowledge Centre

An Equal Slice? Grace Dent and Jack Monroe in Conversation

Friday 5 April 19.00 – 20.30

Join The Guardian restaurant critic Grace Dent and food writer, journalist and activist Jack Monroe as they discuss issues around food poverty and food inequality in contemporary Britain.

£15 / £12 / £10 / Knowledge Centre

Voice in Cookery Writing: Nigella Lawson, Ella Risbridger and Bee Wilson

Monday 8 April 19.00 – 20.30
A recipe is so much more than a set of instructions: it is a story, an experience waiting to happen. Explore the role of voice, narrative and storytelling in cookery books with three fantastic food writers.

£20 / £18 / £17 / Knowledge Centre

Snozzcumbers, Raspberry Jam and Midnight Feasts: Food in Children’s Literature

Tuesday 9 April 19.00 – 20.30

Writer, broadcaster, and children’s books expert Julia Eccleshare sneaks into the pantry to taste the edible (and inedible) food found in children’s literature and consider the role food plays in our literary childhood imaginations. Featuring award-winning children’s writer Katherine Rundell.

£12 / £10 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

Food Season Book Club

Thursday 11 April 19.00 – 20.30
Bring your favourite cookbook along to this informal, interactive session led by chef Rosie Sykes and British Library curator and food historian Polly Russell. Explore the cookbooks that have earned a special place in food history and in our hearts – and why.

£12 / £10 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

Joanne Harris: Food in Fiction

Monday 15 April 19.00 – 20.30
How do you write about the sensuality of food in fiction? Author of Chocolat Joanne Harris reflects on her work and the place of food in her novels, including her new book, The Strawberry Thief, the compelling and long-awaited new Chocolat sequel.

£15 / £12 / £10 / Knowledge Centre

Cookbook Design That Changed the Way We Eat

Thursday 18 April 19.00 – 20.30
It’s said that we ‘eat with our eyes’, so how does the design of cookery books shape how and what we choose to cook and eat? Our panel discussion is led by renowned designer Caz Hildebrand, who designed numerous bestselling cookbooks including those by Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi.
£15 / £12 / £10 / Knowledge Centre

Cookery Writers as National Treasures

Tuesday 23 April 19.15 – 20.30
Since Eliza Acton and Mrs Beeton, some cookery book writers have taken on iconic status and continue to be celebrated long after their deaths. How does this happen? Janet Floyd looks at Julia Child and others' position as ‘national treasures’ to consider how and why certain figures become so significant.

£12 / £10 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

Taste: How Does It Work?

Thursday 25 April 19.00 – 20.30

We know what we like, but what shapes our preferences? Yotam Ottolenghi joins food writer and founder of TastEd Bee Wilson and professor of genetic epidemiology Tim Spector to ask: how do we learn to taste? What influences our taste? And what role do upbringing, genes or gut microbes play in shaping how we take pleasure in food? Chaired by Polly Russell.

£20 / £18 / £17 / Knowledge Centre

The Secrets of Manuscript Cookbooks

Monday 29 April 19.15 – 20.30
Manuscript cookbooks — collections of handwritten culinary recipes — are rich academic resources as well as priceless personal treasures. Stephen Schmidt of the Manuscript Cookbooks Survey asks whether they could offer a better insight into Anglo-American social food history than their printed, professional equivalents.

£12 / £10 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

In partnership with The Bibliographical Society

BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet at the Food Season

Tuesday 30 April 19.00 – 20.30

Presented by the restaurant critic and MasterChef judge Jay Rayner, BBC Radio 4’s culinary panel show is packed full of facts and stories that might change the way you think about food, cooking, and eating.

Free / Ticket required / Knowledge Centre
In partnership with Somethin’ Else Productions

Thinking Outside the Pots

Thursday 9 May 19.00 – 20.30
Join us for whistle-stop tour of the history of innovation in food and kitchenware with speakers including Hugh Duffie, co-founder of Sandows cold brew coffee.

£8 / £6 / £5 / Piazza Pavilion

Women Cheesemakers: Past, Present, Future

Friday 10 May 19.00 – 20.30

Meet the women cheesemakers transforming their field by championing the revival of British territorial cheese production. With Bronwen Percival of Neal’s Yard Dairy, Mrs Ruth Kirkham and Carrie Rimes. Ticket includes cheese samples.
£20 / £18 / £17 / Piazza Pavilion

Unwrapping the Packaging Problem

Monday 13 May 19.00 – 20.30

As awareness of the environmental impact of plastic increases, we take a look at packaging materials and methods and ask: what routes forward are there for society and science? With materials scientist Mark Miodownik, and Everyday Plastic Project team artist Daniel Webb and scientist Julie Schneider.
£12 / £10 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

How to Cook the Perfect… Home Cook

Tuesday 14 May 19.00 – 20.30

How do you develop cooking instincts that enable you to know which recipes or flavours will work? And then write about this process in an engaging way? Felicity Cloake, of The Guardian’s ‘How To Cook the Perfect …’ food column, and Niki Segnit, author of The Flavour Thesaurus and Lateral Cooking, reflect. Chaired by Polly Russell.

£15 / £12 / £10 / Knowledge Centre

Nadiya Hussain and Sara Cox in Conversation

Thursday 16 May 19.30 – 21.00

Two of Britain’s most loved women from the worlds of food and music talk about their upbringings and careers, the roles they’ve had to play along the way, food and cooking in their lives, and what it means to be a working woman in the public eye.
£20 / £18 / £17 / Knowledge Centre

Cake Decorating with Le Cordon Bleu

Saturday 18 May 11.00 – 12.00, 13.00 – 14.00 and 15.00 – 16.00

Brush up your skills with chefs from Le Cordon Bleu, as they show you some classic cake decorating methods inspired by historic designs found in the Library's collections.

Free / Ticket required / Piazza Pavilion
In partnership with Le Cordon Bleu

The Evolution of the Kitchen

Saturday 18 May 19.00 – 20.30

How have kitchens – professional and domestic – developed over time? And how has this shaped the food we cook and eat? With Carolyn Arnold of kitchen designers Bulthaup and British chef Rowley Leigh.

£12 / £10 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

How to Write a Cookbook

Monday 20 May 19.00 – 20.30
What really goes into making a cookbook? Take a peek behind the scenes with two highly-respected food writers, Sybil Kapoor and Jenny Linford, to find out about the process of writing and creating a cookbook, as they share their trials, tribulations and top tips.

£15 / £12 / £10 / Piazza Pavilion

Wiki-Food and (Mostly) Women

Monday 20 May 10.00 – 16.30
Help redress the Wikipedia gender imbalance by spending a day improving its coverage of food-related topics, especially but not exclusively those related to women, in this Wiki-editathon.

Free / Registration required / Boardroom

In partnership with the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery

Cheers to Beer: Talk and Tasting With Jane Peyton

Tuesday 21 May 19.00 – 20.30
Beer expert Jane Peyton hosts a talk and tasting session which looks at the history of beer production in the UK, introduces you to the range of beers available today, and invites you to hone your beer-tasting skills. Ticket includes three small glasses of beer. For ages 18+.

£24 / £22 / £20 / Piazza Pavilion 

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Recipes for Success

Tuesday 21 May 19.00 – 21.30
Hear from the founders of the food sector’s tastiest business success stories, including Eat Natural.

£10 / £8 / £7 / Knowledge Centre

Food Music: The Ultimate Taste Test

Wednesday 22 May 19.30 – 21.00

Are there similarities between taste in music and taste in food? What is good or bad taste in either? And how do food and musical preferences develop? Explore these questions with chef, inventor, and maverick Heston Blumenthal and award-winning composer Dominic Murcott. The event features live music, micro experiments, tastings and conversation.
£35 / £32 / £30 / Entrance Hall

Planted: Chantelle Nicholson

Thursday 23 May 19.00 – 20.30
Discover the power of plants in this talk with leading chef and champion of plant-based cooking, Chantelle Nicholson, complete with a demonstration and tasting samples, showcasing some of the ingredients Chantelle loves to use in her cooking.
£20 / £18 / £17 / Piazza Pavilion

How To Farm (And Eat) For A Better World

Thursday 30 May 19.00 – 20.30
Food journalist Dan Saladino chairs a panel of experts and producers, including Colin Tudge from the Campaign for Real Farming, to ask what possible action we can take or choices we can make – individually and collectively – to feed the planet's population in a sustainable way.

The British Library also publishes a range of culinary themed books, including The Cocktail Book, Rough Spirits and High Society: The Culture of Drink, The Philosophy of Coffee and The Philosophy of Wine (publishes 30th May 2019).


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About KitchenAid

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the iconic KitchenAid Stand Mixer. 

In 1908, after watching a baker mix bread dough with a heavy iron spoon, Ohio-based engineer, Herbert Johnston, developed a stand mixer to help alleviate the backbreaking work. By 1919, the first household mixer, boasting the unique planetary action and famous curves, was ready for market.  During a product test, the wife of an employee exclaimed “I don’t care what you call it, it’s the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had!”.  And the rest, as they say, is history …

Since the introduction of the stand mixer in 1919 and the first dishwasher in 1949, KitchenAid has built on the legacy of these icons to create a complete line of products.  Today, the KitchenAid brand offers virtually every essential for the well-equipped kitchen from utensils and cookware to large and small electrical appliances offering professional performance to both chefs and passionate home cooks. 

 KitchenAid is part of the Whirlpool Corporation, the world’s leading major home appliance company.  For further information on KitchenAid, visit www.kitchenaid.co.uk


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The British Library
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