Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tom Kerridge, Claudia Roden, Asma Khan and Harold McGee: The British Library announces line-up for third Food Season

Food Season lead image

Featuring writers, historians, food experts and chefs, the British Library Food Season (2 April – 30 May 2020), will offer talks, tastings and workshops drawing on the Library’s food-related Collection.

Focusing on the culture, history, sustainability, literature and future of food, highlights include:

  • Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, chef writer and campaigner, talks about sustainability, food provenance and wellbeing.


  • Michelin-starred chef, best-selling author and BBC presenter Tom Kerridge talks to Gilly Smith about his life, career and his quest to get fit


  • Chef, author and presenter Ken Hom talks to food writer Fuchsia Dunlop about his remarkable life and career, sharing perspectives on Chinese food, both inside and outside its homeland.


  • Shamil Thakrar, co-founder of Dishoom restaurants, presents a multi-sensory exploration of the food of Bombay and its influence on Dishoom, with music and tasters.


  • Food science writer Harold McGee will discuss his forthcoming book about the sense of smell


  • An opportunity to share your favourite family recipes and stories with food-writer Georgina Hayden


  • Activist and writer Jack Monroe and psychologist and Bake Off finalist Kimberley Wilson discuss food, diet and mental health with Zoe Williams


  • A Taste of Africa will pop-up for the day in the Library’s Piazza, with the best West African chefs offering street food stalls, discussions and taster sessions.


  • Claudia Roden and Simon Schama reflect on the history, culture and traditions of Jewish food.


  • Award-winning food-writer Niki Segnit and the Evening Standard food critic Jimi Famurewa discuss what it takes to be funny about food.


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

The British Library’s Food Season is generously supported by KitchenAid. Members’ and Patrons’ Priority booking opens at 11.00 on 28 February, and tickets will be on general sale from 11.00 on 4 March.


Dr Polly Russell, Food Historian, Founder and Curator of the British Library Food Season, said:

“We are thrilled that the Food Season is returning to the British Library again this spring for its third season. With the ever-growing debate around the future of food, we wanted to put together a programme to inspire, entertain and challenge, inviting the world’s best known and most respected voices in the world of food to the Library, as well as drawing on our own incredible collection. Whether it’s Ken Hom discussing Chinese food in the UK, Jack Monroe on food and mental health, a talk and tasting with Shamil Thakrar, founder of Dishoom, or an exploration of food and smell with scientist Harold McGee, we have something delicious for everyone to enjoy.”

Mark Ridealgh, Market Leader UK & Ireland, KitchenAid SDA comments:

“We’re delighted to continue our support of the Food Season at the British Library.  The 2020 series of talks, tastings and workshops from writers, historians, food experts and chefs is as sensational as ever and we’re excited to have this opportunity to share our passion and enthusiasm for great food and cookery."


The Food Season at the British Library will feature:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: You, Food and the Planet

Thursday 2 April 19.00 – 20.30

In a special event to launch the British Library Food Season, chef, writer and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall talks about sustainability, food provenance and wellbeing. As the 21st century brings unprecedented levels of stress to people and planet, Hugh wants to discuss, among other things, the importance of a good meal, a good walk and a good story

£16 / £14 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

Tom Kerridge in Conversation

Monday 6 April 19.00 – 20.30

Join the Michelin-starred chef, bestselling author and BBC presenter as he talks to Gilly Smith about his life, career and his quest to get fit and lose weight without compromising in the kitchen.

£16 / £14 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

Feast and Fast: The Art of Food Europe 1500 – 1800

Tuesday 7 April 19.15 – 20.30

An insight into the food culture of early modern Europe told through the art and artefacts of the time. A lecture by Dr Victoria Avery, Keeper of Applied Arts at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and co-curator of its Eat Feast Fast exhibition.

£11 / £9.50 / £5.50 / Knowledge Centre

Ken Hom’s ‘Stir-Fried Life’ with Fuchsia Dunlop

Thursday 16 April 19.00 – 20.30

Chef, author and presenter Ken Hom transformed understanding of Chinese food when he first appeared on television screens in the 1980s. He talks to food writer Fuchsia Dunlop about his life and career, sharing perspectives on Chinese food, both inside and outside its homeland.

£16 / £14 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

Beyond the Bank: Creating Community and Culture Through Food

Monday 20 April 19.00 – 20.30

Meet some of those whose food projects aim to build cohesion and hope amidst isolation and desperation. Including Barney Houghton of Bristol’s Square Meal Foundation and Mary Brennan of Community Unity in Leeds. Chaired by journalist Stephen Armstrong, author of The New Poverty.

£11 / £9.50 / £5.50 / Knowledge Centre

From Bombay with Love: The Dishoom Story

Tuesday 21 April 19.30 – 21.30

Join Shamil Thakrar, co-founder of Dishoom restaurants, for a multisensory exploration of the food of Bombay and its influence on Dishoom. With music and tasters.

£16 / £14 / £8 / Entrance Hall

Feeding Our Children

Friday 24 April 19.00 – 20.30

The way we think and feel about food as children can have a huge influence on our lifelong relationship with it. A panel including food writer and chair of TastEd Bee Wilson, chef Gita Mistry, headteacher Jason O’Rourke and nutritionist Professor Anna S Ólafsdóttir, considers the politics and practicalities of feeding children well.

£13 / £11 / £6.50 / Knowledge Centre

Family Favourite Recipes

Monday 27 April 19.15 – 20.30

So many of us have old favourite family recipes that have been passed down through the generations - and we want to hear about yours. Whether they’re written down or ingrained in the memory, come along and share your recipes and their stories. With food-writer Georgina Hayden, whose recipes of her Cypriot heritage are so important to her cooking.

£9 / £7.50 / £4.50 / Knowledge Centre


On Restaurants: Asma Khan in Conversation with Tim Anderson

Tuesday 28 April 19.00 – 20.30

Come and hear about the politics, changes and motivators facing modern restaurants. With Asma Khan, whose all-women team at Darjeeling Express is challenging the norm of male-dominated professional kitchens and award winning chef and owner of Japanese restaurant Nanban, Tim Anderson. Chaired by food writer, broadcaster and bakery owner Tim Hayward.

£13 / £11 / £6.50 / Knowledge Centre

Home and Cooking, Past and Present

Thursday 30 April 19.00 – 21.00

How did domestic cooks wield the wooden spoon and the household purse in the past and what is the state of domestic cooking today? With Dr Annie Gray on Georgina Landemare, cook to Winston Churchill, Laura Shapiro on the 1950s American kitchen and Sue Quinn on Florence White and her 1930s cooking compendium. Followed by a look at modern home life with Lindsey Bareham and Chetna Makan.

£16 / £14 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

What She Ate, with Laura Shapiro

Friday 1 May 19.00 – 20.15

American culinary historian Laura Shapiro talks about her book What She Ate which traces the diets and tastes of six famous women. Hear about Dorothy Wordsworth in Dove Cottage, Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House and Helen Gurley Brown, author of the best-selling Sex and the Single Girl, whose culinary specialty was blocks of diet gelatine.

£11 / £9.50 / £5.50 / Knowledge Centre

Rachel Herrmann:

Hunger in the American Revolution

Tuesday 5 May 19.15 – 20.30

During the American Revolution, hunger was a weapon of war. In this illustrated lecture, Dr Rachel Herrmann explores the position of food and how it was used to claim power, maintain communities and keep rival societies at bay.

Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

£11 / £9.50 / £5.50 / Knowledge Centre

Wiki-Food and (Mostly) Women

Monday 11 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.

In partnership with the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery

Free / Ticket required / Boardroom

How Food Can Save the World

Tuesday 12 May 19.30 – 20.45

Food is seldom out of the news, whether it’s industrial production destroying the planet or modern diets causing a crisis in public health. But what is the potential for transforming the food system to create a healthy world with a healthy population? Explore this vital question with Carolyn Steel, author of Hungry City and Sitopia and food campaigner and Chief Executive of Sustain, Kath Dalmeny.

£11 / £9.50 / £5.50 / Piazza Pavilion

On Food and Life: Jack Monroe and Kimberley Wilson with Zoe Williams

Thursday 14 May 19.00 – 20.30

Jack Monroe has transformed debates about food, poverty, mental health and more since launching the breakthrough Cooking on a Bootstrap blog. Jack is joined by psychologist and Bake Off finalist Kimberley Wilson and Guardian writer Zoe Williams to discuss food, diet and mental health.

£13 / £11 / £6.50 / Knowledge Centre

Honey & Co: Food from the Middle East

Thursday 14 May 19.00 – 20.30

Husband and wife team Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich opened their first restaurant in London in 2012 serving traditional, home style Middle Eastern food. In this session they discuss their food influences, enthusiasms and passions, how they juggle three businesses and what the future holds. Accompanied by delicious tastings.

£16 / £14 / £8 / Piazza Pavilion


A Taste of Africa: Origin Stories

Friday 15 May 19.00 – 20.30

Chefs and food bloggers are joined by their grandmothers, aunts and mothers to share their African cooking stories and discuss passing on recipes and cooking techniques to the next generation.

£6 / £5 / £3 / Piazza Pavilion

A Taste of Africa

Saturday 16 May 12.00 – 18.15

Have you ever tried Attieke, Egusi or Ugali? Join us for a day exploring the ‘last great untapped cuisine’ at a day of talks and tastings. Try a selection of exciting street food stalls; meet some of the best West African chefs; share food stories and recipes; find out ‘Who Stole My Plantain?’; and hear from award-winning chef Tokunbo Koiki as she explores ways of maintaining a dual identity heritage and bridging cultural gaps.

In association with London African Food Week and VINE Creatives

Free / Some sessions require a ticket / Piazza Pavilion


The Philosophy of Gin with Jane Peyton at the Gilbert Scott

Monday 18 May 19.00 – 20.15

Gin might be the queen of the drinks cabinet today, but the history of its reputational rollercoaster has seen it go from medicine to Mother’s Ruin. Find out more with Jane Peyton, drinks expert and author of The Philosophy of Gin. Includes gin samples and a special drink created by the mixologists of George’s Bar at the Gilbert Scott. For ages 18+.

£16 / £14 / £8 / The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Rd, London NW1 2AR


Finding Flavour:

Ryan Riley and Barry Smith

Tuesday 19 May 19.00 – 20.15

Ryan Riley, chef and co-founder of Life Kitchen, and scientist of the senses Professor Barry Smith present the ingredients, textures and techniques that can reignite that spark of enjoyment of food for anyone who is struggling to taste, or just wants to give their palette a jump-start.

£13 / £11 / £6.50 / Piazza Pavilion

A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles

Tuesday 19 May 19.30 – 20.45

Ned Palmer, author of the acclaimed A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles and Harry West (Professor of Anthropology, University of Exeter) discuss the history of the UK through the history of cheese. Samples included.

£13 / £11 / £6.50 / Piazza Pavilion

The Book of Jewish Food: Claudia Roden and Simon Schama

Thursday 21 May 19.00 – 20.30

One of our greatest food writers, Claudia Roden, is joined by historian Professor Simon Schama to reflect on the history, culture and traditions of Jewish food.

£16 / £14 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

The Wonderful World of British Spirits

Friday 22 May 19.00 – 20.15

Discover and taste the latest trends in British and Irish spirits: eco-friendly distilleries, innovative botanicals, a respect for terroirs, and new-wave whisky. With award-winning drinks writer Alice Lascelles. For ages 18+.

£13 / £11 / £6.50 / Piazza Pavilion

Cyanide and Marmalade: Food in Crime Fiction

Friday 22 May 19.15 – 20.30

Food has a prominent place in crime fiction; sometimes comforting and reassuring, sometimes threatening and ominous. With Kate Young, a writer and cook who explored the intersection between food and fiction in The Little Library Cookbook and The Little Library Year.

£11 / £9 / £5.50 / Knowledge Centre

Borough Market presents Trading Places: Why Markets Matter

Tuesday 26 May 19.00 – 20.30

In our age of online shopping and selfcheckouts, face to face interaction is declining. A panel from Borough Market including Jenny Linford discusses how markets can help build community, encourage the exchange of ideas and nurture social change. Includes tastings from the market!

£11 / £9.50 / 5.50 / Piazza Pavilion

Not My Cup of Tea

Wednesday 27 – Thursday 28 May 13.15 – 13.45 and 15.00 – 15.30

Fancy a cuppa? Join writer and performer Ian Nicholson for a quick caffeinated look at British colonial and class history to discover how tea ended up embedded in British life. Tea and biscuits included.

Free / Drop in / Piazza Pavilion

Funny About Food

Thursday 28 May 19.30 – 21.00

Anthony Bourdain, MFK Fisher, Nora Ephron, A A Gill: food writers whose work is loved for the way they use humour to convey ideas. Award winning food-writer Niki Segnit and the Evening Standard food critic Jimi Famurewa discuss what it takes to be funny about food.

£13 / £11 / £6 / Piazza Pavilion

The Changing Debate, the Changing Diet: What’s Happened to Food?

Friday 29 May 19.00 – 20.30

Join a panel of experts including Sheila Dillon, presenter of BBC Radio Four’s The Food Programme and acclaimed food writers Dr Harold McGee, Elizabeth Luard and Sumayya Usmani to discuss how diet and food debate have developed, for better or worse, since the 1980s.

£16 / £14 / £8 / Knowledge Centre

River Cottage: More Taste, Less Waste

Saturday 30 May 14.30 – 16.00

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.

£16 / £14 / £8 / Piazza Pavilion

Food Writing Study Day

Saturday 30 May 9.45 – 16.00

Whether you’re a budding food critic, blogger, author or just enjoy reading about food, learn how to bring food writing alive at this study day.

£55 / £50 / £45 / Knowledge Centre

The Science of Food with Harold McGee

Saturday 30 May 17.00 – 18.30

Dr Harold McGee’s 1984 book On Food and Cooking has inspired generations of chefs, food writers and enthusiasts. Dan Saladino of The Food Programme talks to McGee about his life-long fascination with the science of food and his eagerly anticipated forthcoming book on smell.

£13 / £11 / £6.50 / Knowledge Centre


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