On the 17th and 18th of May the School held its annual Food for Thought lectures. The 80-seat lecture theatre was jam-packed with delegates who had travelled from all over the country to listen to some of the UK’s top food experts. The presentations and discussions covered some serious and fascinating topics with many points of view and interests emerging. The opportunity to chat in the breaks and to exchange ideas over lunch was seized by some, whilst others went for head-clearing walks. Everyone agreed that every speaker was engaged with both their subject and the audience in a way that was thoughtful and energising. The pizza at lunch was also rated extremely highly!
1) Chris Dee – CEO Booths Supermarkets
Chris talked about the challenges that face a supermarket which not only has to operate in a competitive market but which is committed to supporting small local producers and makers.
2) Ivan Day – Food Historian, scholar, broadcaster, writer and cook
Ivan gave a fascinating illustrated talk about the history of the British pie.
3) Allison Palmer – Bassetlaw Food Bank Co-ordinator
Allison explained the history of our local food bank, how it works, who benefits and how it is staffed by volunteers. She gave practical advice about how to support it and talked not about politics but about human decency.
4) Bee Wilson – Historian and food writer, author of four books and columnist in the Sunday Telegraph
Bee talked about how we learn to eat and, among many other things, the challenges posed to culture and people by convenience foods.
5) Andrew Sharp – Cumbrian butcher, teacher and broadcaster
Andrew demonstrated how to butcher Herdwick mutton and spoke about the precious ecosystem on which these sheep graze and the history of the breed.
6) The Pizza Pilgrims – owners of Pizza Pilgrims restaurants in London
Thom and James told the hilarious and instructive story of their journey to Soho via Naples and Berwick St Market, illuminating the progressive aspects of the street food scene and some do’s and don’ts about food business start-ups.
7) Sheila Dillon – Renowned food journalist and presenter of the Radio 4 Food Programme
Sheila’s topic was Why Bother? She spoke eloquently about people such as Randolph Hodgson and Andrew Whitley who have bothered about access to good food in the UK. Her own campaigns around BSE and food traceability were cited as examples about why it is worth bothering.
Andrew Whitley – Baker, teacher, author and founder of the Real Bread Campaign
Andrew spoke about the state of the bread industry in Scotland and, among other things, how vested interests prevent local sourcing. He laid out a programme for a more sustainable future.
“The choice and breadth of the subjects was a perfect balance and must have taken much thought and preparation. It was never an indulgent look at ‘wonderful ways with foody ingredients’. But it did make us think, learn, laugh, marvel and gave us a renewed determination to spread the word and even perhaps get involved in a community project. You looked after us so well. The food was superb (best quiche I have ever tasted) and all arrangements were beautifully accomplished.” Gill Searle and Cherry Burgess.
Many thanks to Christie’s Fine Art Auctioneers for their sponsorship of Food for Thought.