Event Details

Thursday 9 May 2024 - Monday 3 June 2024

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We all enjoy eating food, but how much do we really think about what’s on our plates? From cuisine, culture, identity, environmental challenges and the media, there is a fascinating amount we can discover about the world of food around us.

And what better way to learn than at the British Library’s Food Season, which features a series of thought-provoking and engaging events from a stellar line-up of speakers including Michel Roux, Melissa Thompson, Julius Roberts, Madhur Jaffrey, Itamar Srulovich, Jimi Famurewa, Jenny Lau, Ravinder Bhogal, Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr Lyan) and many more. 

This year features the Food Season’s BIG Weekend on the final weekend of May – a two day celebration of food through words, sounds, cultures, ideas and tastings.

Now in its sixth year, the British Library Food Season continues to bring together some of the most influential names in food and provides a platform for new voices, ventures, and ideas. Featuring writers, historians, food experts and chefs, this year offers a diverse, engaging and thought-provoking series of events drawing on the library’s food-related collection. The programme is created by Food Season founder and British Library curator Dr Polly Russell with award-winning food writers Angela Clutton and Melissa Thompson as co-directors with assistance from Joe Allen.

Highlights from the 2024 programme

The Psychological Impossibility of Eating Well

Every day, we’re inundated with differing opinions and advice about what we should eat, when we should eat and how we should eat. The modern world is rife with industrial advertising, fad-diet gurus and conflicting information resulting in vast confusion surrounding how we should feed ourselves. Psychologist Kimberley Wilson and medical doctor and broadcaster Dr Chris van Tulleken join forces to cut through the noise and offer guidance in the pursuit of eating well, for body and mind. 

Food and Emotion

How do deep emotions, especially grief and loss, shape and transform our relationships with food and eating and how we cook? Join an expert panel of chefs and food writers who have, at different times, experienced loss and found their relationship with the kitchen transformed as a result. 

Ending Food Insecurity

In January 2024, 15% of families in the UK experienced moderate or severe food insecurity – that’s about 8 million adults and 3 million children. Food security has been a priority for UK governments for decades and is a major concern for food policy researchers. So why, in one of the richest countries in the world, is this so difficult to achieve? Join Sheila Dillon from BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme to explore this issue with Professor Christina Vogel from the Centre for Food Policy, educator GP Dr Chi-Chi Ekhator and public health advocate Leah Ndegwa.

Farmhouse Cheese, Microbes and the Fight for Taste

Raw milk has long been a fundamental liquid food and for centuries humans both drank it and made cheese, cream and butter from it. But all that changed with the invention of pasteurisation in the 19th century. Yet even in an age of pasteurisation, raw milk cheeses are still made and sold; Camembert de Normandie AOC, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Pitchfork Cheddar, to name a few. A panel discuss the role of raw milk in cheesemaking and its importance in enhancing our gut microbiomes and maintaining gut health.

How Food Crosses Continents

Recipes and foodways are central to the cultures in which they are produced and can have incredible significance to the identities of those who recreate them. When people migrate, recipes and foodways migrate with them and permeate food cultures across the world, but what impact does this migration have upon the recipe? How do recipes remain authentic, and does this matter? Join food critic Jimi Famurewa as he explores the complexities of the ever-evolving recipe with cooks and food writers Jenny Lau, Maria Bradford and Shelina Permalloo.

Drinking the Zeitgeist

Revered mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr Lyan) has won numerous awards, including several years as the holder of World’s Best Bar. Here he brings his characteristic take on trends and innovation to this exploration of how cultural movements and moments in popular culture shape fashions and prejudices around the latest trends in spirits, cocktails and socialising. From classic whisky cocktails, brought back into popular demand by cult TV show Mad Men and the rise of Japanese whisky; to celebrity culture’s fascination with mezcal; through to the rise of non-alcoholic spirits and alcopops; what has influenced what we drink, and where is it likely to go next? 

21st Century Farming

Chef-turned-farmer, bestselling cookbook author and social media sensation Julius Roberts on the joys and challenges of being a farmer in the Digital Age. Julius will talk with Angela Clutton (Food Season co-director and author of Seasoning: How to cook and celebrate the seasons) about the pressures, joys and challenges of modern farming and how the digital world can help celebrate the rhythms of the farming year.

For the full programme and tickets, head over to thebritishlibrary.seetickets.com