Magnus Nilsson was here

posted 8 December 2015
Photo by Luisa Brimble-61 copy

In Sydney. Yep, he was.

We had the opportunity to speak with Magnus about his books – The Nordic Cookbook and Faviken, both published by Phaidon Press – his restaurant, approach to food, photography… in a word, life. It was a very weird Sydney day. Dry heat, dusty wind, overcast, a southerly coming in — which conspired to cast an eerie, wan yellow light in the Elston Room at Carriageworks just as we sat down (in very comfy leather butterfly chairs from funkis) to talk.

Thank you Luisa Brimble for this beautiful portrait and also the images from the Magnus Nilsson: Food Stores event used on the home page.

Exciting news. Magnus Nilsson’s coming to town

posted 14 October 2015
Magnus Nilsson 400x550

Chef and author Magnus Nilsson, from Fäviken Magasinet, Sweden, is in Sydney on November 26 to launch his latest book, The Nordic Cookbook (Phaidon Press). He joins Barbara Sweeney from Food & Words for a night of food stories.


The evening’s proceedings will include 60-minutes of story telling (puffins, whales, stinky fish and more will be covered), as well as a good, old-fashioned 30-minute audience participatory Q&A to finish. You can also ask Magnus to scribble on the front jacket of your book (which weighs more than 2kgs, so make sure to bring a bag to carry it home in).

Magnus Nilsson is head chef of one of the most interesting restaurants in the world. Set in an incredibly beautiful hunting estate in the north of Sweden, Magnus has made something unique. By only serving food that is produced on or near the estate he has fixed on a very particular way of working with the land and seasons and in the process has created something remarkable.

He wrote about this approach in his influential cookbook Fäviken (Phaidon Press, 2012), a tale of ingredients, cooking, growing, hunting and place.

In 2015, Fäviken Magasinet was listed at Number 25 in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Food TV show audiences will recognise him from both the Emmy Award-winning US PBS-TV series, The Mind of a Chef, and the Netfix documentary series, Chef’s Table.

Event details
Magnus Nilsson: Food Stories
Thursday, November 26, 6.30pm-8pm
245 Wilson Street (Cnr Codrington Street), Eveleigh

Admission + a copy of The Nordic Cookbook (rrp $59.99) — $85
Admission only — $55
Tickets include GST and credit card processing fee. Booking fee is 30 cents.

Food & Words chooses to use the Trybooking ticket service because it is an Australian company and only charges a small fee of 30 cents to the customer.


Tickets are strictly limited, so we advise booking early to avoid disappointment.

Magnus Nilsson: Food Stories is kindly supported by Carriageworks, Mike McEnearney (Creative Director, Carriageworks Farmers’ Market and Kitchen by Mike), and Phaidon Press.
Thank you to funkis Swedish Forms for the loan of butterfly chairs and cushions for stage set.

Spreading the word

posted 25 August 2015

Food & Words is a word-of-mouth event, natch. It’s the people who book a ticket year in and year out that form the backbone of the day. And year-on-year they bring their food-obsessed friends and family (Food & Words is such a mum and daughter day out) and so it grows. I’m glad they come, because I find it hard to explain what Food & Words is and rely on the good words that they have to say. You can read some of their testimonials on this site, but it’s the fact that almost half the audience books a ticket each year that speaks volumes.

“It’s Food Writers’ Festival 101,” says a wise and clever friend. “It’s a writers’ festival that has a program of wonderful writers and an audience of people who want to listen to them – and the topic is food.”

I’m not really into blowing trumpets, but Food & Words is pretty special. There’s no one thing that’s more special than the next so you could say that it is the sum of its parts. We’re in a particularly beautiful space, The Mint, in Sydney, a wonderful sandstone property with an award-winning contemporary auditorium. The event team at The Mint who look after us are amazing – kind, personable and efficient and a complete pleasure to work with. The team from Bistro Mint,  host the guest chef – this year, Michael Rantissi from Kepos Street Kitchen and Kepos & Co. – help us realise our culinary vision for the day and send out some very fine tasting food.

And there’s more – tea by Ovvio Organics, coffee, all-day refreshments, morning and afternoon tea – and the Potts Point Bookshop, who stock the authors’ books as well as lots of interesting cookbooks and food books to buy. And, at the end of the day, with the help of our friends at Murdoch Books and Lantern (Penguin), all our guest leave with one of their food titles tucked under their arms (note to audience: bring a shopping bag).

But all this is window dressing. The reason you’d come to Food & Words is to hear from the speakers and there is a terrific line up in 2015. Were talking to a chef who wrote a cookbook, a journalist turned memoirist, a scholar who ponders dinner in North Korea, an academic and a chef on Australian bush foods and an open mike session with Gay Bilson, who will talk gastronomy and more and answer your questions. You can email them ( or ask them on the day. Read all about our 2015 speakers here.

celebrity’s siren call

posted 20 July 2015

Every time I think of soil scientist Robert Edis, I chuckle. I don’t think he knew what to make of his invitation to speak at a food writers’ festival, being a soil scientist and all.
His invitation came on the back of an interesting series he’d had published in The Conversation, a website where scholarly research is iterated in plain English, where brains work with journos to produce readable, as well as evidence-based, ethical and responsible content. Robert had written an eminently readable series on the relationship between soils and elite vegetable growing in Australia. The series, called The Good Earth, explains why durum wheat grows so well in the hypercalcic calcarosols of the Clare in SA and ginger thrives in Queensland, in Buderim’s red ferrosol soil.
Paul Van Reyk had put me onto these stories in his regular Compost newsletter and we thought the Food & Words audience would lap it up. And they did.
Robert flies into Sydney from Melbourne looking more rock muso than scientist. He looked bewildered. As insurance, he’d interspersed portraits of film stars into the visuals for his talk (you can see the thinking-woman’s-crumpet Richard Roxburgh in the pic above, but Brad Pitt also featured), which he thought would keep us going if we got bogged down.
He needn’t have worried. I overheard a woman say, on the way out of the room, “Who knew soil could be so sexy?”. Mission accomplished. The world of food is an endless source of stories and that’s partly what Food & Words is about, a forum for telling them.

Proceedings started with a bang

posted 20 July 2015

We knew that what Laura Dalrymple, half the dynamic duo behind the successful meat provider Feather and Bone, had to say would be provocative. We just didn’t know how deep a chord she would strike. You can read her fabulous piece, presented at Food & Words in 2014, here.



Matilda Julian’s painting

posted 18 July 2015
FW15 postcard

The painting I’m using for the Food & Words postcard this year is by Geurie artist Matilda Julian. So far we’ve had lots of lovely comments.


I first saw Matilda’s work at Alby & Esthers in Mudgee and was instantly smitten. Then, a story on Matilda, her dog Banjo, Bliss cafe and life in Geurie, in Central Western NSW, near Dubbo, appeared in Country Style magazine with beautiful shots by Felix Forest.


It’s what I do each year, commission an artwork for the event. It feels good to support Australian illustrators and painters. This year, I wanted texture. And I got it.