Writers’ Festival

Imagine, a day filled with storytelling, interesting discussion and delectable food. Oh, and lots of laughter.

Food & Words is food for thought

Next up:

Food & Words
September 15, 2018

Program to be announced March 31, 2018

Anyone who values books, enjoys reading and has more than a passing interest in food will enjoy the Food & Words writers’ festival. You dont have to be a writer or work in the hospitality or publishing industries to attend. 

The program features people who write interestingly about food. They may be academics, specialists, chefs, lawyers, poets, scientists, recipe writers or raconteurs. At the very least, they’re entertaining.

Since it began in 2012, Food & Words has featured some of Australia’s best food writing talent. You can see who in the Gallery.

Food and Words is a truly unique event. It brings together a very sophisticated crowd of foodies, wordsmiths, photographers and chefs to celebrate all aspects of food. The programming is always interesting and the collaboration with chefs makes a special day even more so. —Anna Low, Potts Point Bookshop

Date July 25, 2017

Venue No 1 Bent Street, Sydney


Food & Words is a one-day writers’ festival. Where it's different to other writers' festivals is that all the authors on the program write, to some degree, about food. It means a soil scientist could share the stage with a farmer, poet, historian or cookery book author.

The festival is open to anyone who likes to read about, discuss and consume food (that’s you, right?).

It’s aimed at the enthusiast, the obsessed, the curious, and the interested. 

Since starting in 2012, Food & Words has featured some of Australia’s best food writing talent. You can view the calibre of speakers on the Gallery page.  

Meet Mike


Tea by Ovvio Organics  • Coffee by The Little Marionette • Picnic lunch by Cornersmith  • Wine by Lowe Wines

Books from Potts Point Bookshop • 
Gift of a cookbook courtesy Hachette Australia and Murdoch Books 

Cook’s Co-op Hawkesbury produce


Festival details

Date Saturday, September 16, 2017

Time 10am to 4pm

Venue The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Tickets $265

SESSION 3 - 1.30pm to 2.30pm

MC John Newton

Launch Cornersmith: Salads & Pickles with Alex Elliott-Howery & Sabine Spindler

Indigenous foods in the market place ­

Ian Hemphill from Herbie’s talks about herbs, spices and indigenous flavours
Hilary Heslop talks about food production and indigenous flavours

SESSION 4 – 3pm to 4pm
Paths to publishing 

MC Jane Lawson
Monday Morning Cooking Club reflect on their early days and their success
Luisa Brimble & Sarah Glover on running a successful Kickstarter campaign

Brenda Fawden & Christine Sharp on cookbooks as a tourism initiative

The Program 2017


SESSION 1 – 10am to 11am

Food in Fiction

MC Barbara Sweeney

Barbara Sweeney and the dining habits of detectives in crime fiction
Caroline Beecham on food research she undertook for her novel Maggie’s Kitchen, set in1940s London
Sally Abbott, food in the future from author of cli-fi novel Closing Down 

SESSION 2 –11.30am-to 12.30pm

The notion of ‘good’

MC Jacqui Newling

Nick Haddow, Bruny Island Cheese Co. talks about what makes a good cheese – and more
Sam Vincent, Canberra-based writer and apprentice farmer reflects on his good fortune
Mark Best talks about good food, being the best, life on the high seas – and more

Alex Elliott-Howery & Sabine Spindler

Founder, co-owner and all-round Cornersmith legend Alex Elliott-Howery and head chef and waste warrior Sabine Spindler are the creative muses behind the lunch we’ll be serving at Food & Words. Alex and Sabine’s book Cornersmith: Salads & Pickles (Murdoch Books), due out in September, celebrates their plant-loving and waste-hating ethos. It goes without saying that the book is filled with an amazing array of creative salad and pickle recipes, all tried and tested in the café and Picklery, and including dozens of simple ideas for fresh ingredients that might otherwise be thrown away.  cornersmith.com.au

Jacqui Newling 

Jacqui Newling is an Intepretation curator and resident gastronomer at Sydney Living Museums. She is curator of SLM’s Eat Your History projects which include The Cook and the Curator blog, the Colonial Gastronomy series of programs and workshops at SLM’s historic houses. She is author of Eat your history, stories and recipes from Australian kitchens (SLM and New South Publishing, 2015).  sydneylivingmuseums.com.au

Barbara Sweeney

The idea of having a session on food in fiction has been kicking around the Food & Words office for a while. Not least because it provides the event’s organiser, Barbara, with the opportunity of researching a topic close to her literary heart: the dining habits of fictional detectives, from Marlowe to Montalbano. barbarasweeney.com.au

John Newton

John Newton is a freelance writer, journalist, novelist and teacher. His most recent book, published in 2016 is The Oldest Foods on Earth: the story of Australian native food, with recipesOther titles include The Roots of Civilisation: plants that changed the world and A Savage History: whaling in the Pacific and Southern Oceans. John has won many awards for his writing including the Golden Ladle for Best Food Journalism in the 2005 World Food Media Awards. In 2015 he was awarded a Doctor of Creative Arts from UTS. eatourwords.wordpress.com

Ian Hemphill

Ian Hemphill is one of our true food industry legends. What this man does not know about herbs and spices would fit on a teaspoon. He is the author of five authoritative books on the subject, some co-written with Liz Hemphill, his wife and partner in crime, others with food writers Philippa Sandall and Lyndey Milan. Ian has appeared as a talking head on television – exploring the spices of South India for Channel 9’s Fresh program and with Lyndey Milan on the series Moveable Feast ­– and is also a regular guest on radio. Ian and Liz Hemphill and their Rozelle shop, Herbie’s Spices, were awarded the Most Outstanding Providore award at the delicious. Produce Awards in 2011 and, in 2013, Herbie’s Spices made the list of Best Spice Shops in the World compiled by American magazine Food & Wine. herbies.com.au

Caroline Beecham 

Caroline Beecham’s novel Maggie's Kitchen (Allen & Unwin) is set a British Ministry of Food restaurant in London at the close of WWII. Caroline will speak about this period of food history and the research she undertook for the book. Caroline has worked as a writer and producer in film and television — on a documentary about Princess Diana lookalikes, a series about journeys to the ends of the earth, as well as a feature film about finding the end of the rainbow. Caroline studied the craft of novel writing at the Faber Academy in 2012. She has an MA in Film &Television and a MA in Creative Writing and lives with her husband and two sons by Sydney Harbour. Maggie's Kitchen is her first published novel. You can find out more about Maggie's Kitchen and the events that inspired the novel at www.maggieskitchennovel.com

Hilary Heslop

Hilary has worked for major retailers, food manufacturers, hotels and restaurants in Australia, the United Kingdom, Asia and New Zealand. She now runs a food consultancy in Melbourne and is studying for the Le Cordon Bleu Masters of Gastronomic Tourism. Her work experience coupled with a keen interest in global agricultural practices has directed her attention on the tensions between food ethics, sustainability and consumerism. Hilary has presented papers at the Symposium ofAustralian Gastronomy (Pathways to Food Utopia from Australia’s Colonial Past, Melbourne, 2016) and Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery (Agriculture without Fences, 2017)

Jane Lawson
As food publisher at Murdoch Books, Jane Lawson was responsible for the acquisition and publication of many of Australia’s finest and most successful cookbooks from authors such as Peter Gilmore, Ben Shewry, Luke Nguyen, Mathew Evans, Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish, Adriano Zumbo and the Bourke Street Bakery boys, Paul Allum and David McGuinness. Jane has also written more than 10 books, including the best seller Snowflakes and Schnapps. These days, she writes food and travel stories, consults to publishing houses, hosts book publishing workshops and leads tours to Kyoto, her second home. zenbutours.com

Brenda Fawdon & Christine Sharp 
The food that appears on the pages of Eat Local: Food, Farming and Conversation in the Scenic Rim is the kind of food you’d like to be able to cook yourself or, failing that, have someone cook for you. It’s the work of Queensland chef and restaurateur Brenda Fawdon (right) and her collaborator, photographer, writer, editor and book designer Christine Sharp (left). The book captures the real life story of Scenic Rim farmers and their food, from paddock to plate, as well as the co-author's realfood philosophy. realfoodschool.com.au

Sally Abbott 

Sally Abbott’s novel Closing Down (Hachette) conjures a dark future for Australia and gives us a glimpse into a world fractured by a financial crisis and the effects of global climate change. Sally will visit the food her characters eat and how food is produced in the fictional future world that she has created, where Australia’s rural towns and communities are closing down, much of the country is being sold to overseas interests and where states and countries and regions are being realigned worldwide. Sally, a former journalist and a PR Director,
was the inaugural winner of The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers with this, her first novel.

Sarah Glover & Luisa Brimble
When chef Sarah Glover decided to work on a cookbook with photographer Luisa Brimble the pair sidestepped the usual process of seeking out a publisher, and took it on themselves.

“We didn’t think wed find anyone who would let us do it our way,” says Luisa. Our way meant travelling around Australia, over the period of a year, cooking food in the wild. When they were done, the pair conducted a successful Kickstarter campaign – and thats a whole other story, which theyll be telling us at Food & Words. lbrimble.com and sarahglover.com.au

Nick Haddow

Bruny Island Cheese Co. head honcho Nick Haddow has freed himself up from cheese making (and other life demands) to come to Sydney to talk cheese – and the milk, cow, soil relationship. He packed everything he knows about these topics — and more — into Milk. Made. (Hardie Grant), published in 2016. The book won a James Beard award. Not bad for a first outing. Nick started making cheese in Tasmania in 2003 after working in Australia and UK with the best in the business — and now he’s one of them. He's going to be talking about how to recognise good cheese when you come across it. brunyislandcheese.com.au

Featured Writers

Sam Vincent

Sam Vincent’s first book, Blood and Guts: Dispatches from the Whale Wars, was longlisted for the 2015 Walkley Book Award, shortlisted for the 2015 Nib Waverley Library Award for Literature and shortlisted for the 2015 ACT Book of the Year Award. Sam’s a regular contributor to The Monthly, and is an apprentice to his father on the family’s cattle and fig farm.

Monday Morning Cooking Club

Merelyn Chalmers, Lisa Goldberg and Natalya Eskin (far left, centre and far right), are from the Monday Morning Cooking Club (pictured here with other members Jacqui Israel and Lynn Niselow), a unique collaborative cooking project that’s all about sisterhood, heirloom recipes and community. Read about their project at mondaymorningcookingclub.com.au

Monday Morning Cooking Club
Mark Best 

Mark Best made his name as one of Australia’s leading chefs at Marque restaurant and Pei Modern bistro. He’s
a thoughtful and exacting chef who’s always driven himself and his team to go further and be better. He has written two books: Marque (2011) and Best Kitchen Basics (2016). This year, Mark went to sea with Dream Cruises: running Bistro by Mark Best on both the Genting and World Dreams. Mark is also an AEG domestic appliances ambassador and, in his own words, a hack photographer.

Ovvio Organics for providing beautful organic teas.

The Little Marionette for great all-day coffee and service.

Lowe Wines for delicious wine to serve with lunch.

Hachette Australia for providing copies of Sabina Gahyour’s Sirocco for guests.

Murdoch Books for providing copies of Luke Mangan’s Sharing Plates for guests.

Potts Point Bookshop for being the best.

Thank you

Ovvio Organics   •   The Little Marionette   •   Cornersmith  
Lowe Wines   •   Potts Point Bookshop

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