Writers’ Festival

What a truly special, truly uplifting day. I had the best time and was completely absorbed from the very start.” Belinda Jeffery, cookbook author 

It's a full-day talks program, featuring authors, farmers and food practitioners. It's also a sensory and gustatory experience, with good food and wine, bespoke tea and coffee, and other special treats served throughout the day. 

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The 2021 event has been cancelled.

Food & Words is one of a kind. 

Founded in 2012 by food writer Barbara Sweeney, the event brings writers, thinkers, readers and soothsayers together in one room, for one day, to discuss the all-important topic of food.

The event has been described variously as 'a gastonomic day-spa' and the 'best and only event
of its type dedicated to ideas, celebration and development of our food culture

About the Festival

Food & Words 2021 speakers

Emiko Davies is an award-winning Australian-Japanese food writer, photographer and cookbook author based in Italy. Growing up in a diplomatic family, she spent most of her life living in countries other than her own, from China to the USA. She has also called Canberra home at various times. On graduating from art school, she ended up in Florence, Italy, to study art restoration and fell in love with a Tuscan sommelier. They have recently renovated a new home in a small hilltop town between Florence and Pisa, where they live with their two children. Emiko is author of four books: Florentine (2016); Aquacotta (2017), Tortellini at Midnight (2019) and Torta della Nonna (2021). The topic for her next book, due out in 2022, is Venetian cicchetti. Emiko will appear by video link. emikodavies.com

Emiko Davies

Food writer

Mark Best, formerly head chef and proprietor of Marque, is as busy now as he has ever been, even though he closed his much-lauded Sydney restaurant in 2016 after 17 years.

On the work front, Mark consults to a wide range of clients, from Dream Cruise Lines (he has signature restaurants on two ships and no-doubt has an access-all-areas pass to the Penfold’s Wine Vault and Humidor Cigar Lounge when on board) to AEG and Margra Lamb. (If your bookshelves are short either of his books, Marque, 2012, and Best Kitchen Basics, 2016, you’ll find a whole library of his exacting recipes online at AEG.)

In 2018, Mark and his fellow Western Australian Shane Osborn (Arcane, Hone Kong) were the breakout stars of the Netflix series The Final Table, cooking five of the best dishes across the 12-part series. The show was reviewed to headlines such as “big, bombastic and barely watchable” and “the perfect blend of trash and intellect”, but found popular acclaim, introducing Mark and his Australian food and humour to an international audience.


Mark’has had a lifelong interest in photography. You can view his personal and professional projects here and also on his Instagram page where, among the happy snaps, cooking wins (perfecting the croissant was a covid-lockdown obsession) and the latest news, you’ll find some stunning portraits. 

Mark is currently working on his third book, due for release in 2022.


Follow him on Instagram @markbest

Mark Best

Chef, photographer, author and speaker

Sarah takes a magnifying glass to women authors of some early classics of English cookery. 

Using the experience of women such as Elizabeth Raffald, the first domestic goddess Maria Rundell and her successor, Eliza Acton, Sarah unravels the nexus between the writerly aspirations of popular cookery book authors and the fast changing world of their devoted readers. Sarah uses cookery books as the foundation for extensive archival research, a stepping stone to understanding the world at a certain time and place. 'Some historians start with and event or a theme, I choose to start with a cookery book and see where it leads me.' Sarah Benjamin’s first book was, A Castle in Tuscany, The remarkable life of Janet Ross, a biography of the woman who wrote the classic cookbook, Leaves from Our Tuscan Kitchen.

Sarah Benjamin

Food writer

Ross Dobson grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. His neighbours were mostly immigrants from around the globe who shared their recipes and introduced him to a world of flavours. At 14 he enrolled in a Chinese cooking course at his local college which ignited a life-time passion for cooking. He later went on to establish a number of acclaimed cafés and restaurants in the western suburbs of Sydney, including one in the heritage gardens of an art gallery and a tapas restaurant in an old Victorian terrace house, which also operated as a pop-up yum cha restaurant every Sunday. For his latest book Australia, The Cookbook (Phaidon), he has written more than a dozen, Ross had the enviable task of researching and writing about our national cuisine for an international readership.

Ross Dobson


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