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

Writers’ Festival

Can you remember how it felt, back then, to leave the house? Connect with friends? 

What an experience.

We streamed that 2021 event, which meant people from all over the world join in the day.

We've been in a forced hiatus ever since because of the lingering effects of the pandemic on the events and hospo industries, and the wish to be financially  sustainable in a financially challanging climate. 

We want Food & Words to be affordable and it's becoming increasing tricky to make the sums work in our favour. 

So, we're working on a longer lead plan for the next event and envisage holding Food & Words again in 2024.

To be the first to hear the announcement of the location and dates, sign up to the newsletter. 

Food & Words, the annual writers' festival, is possibly the smallest writers' festival in the world and the only dedicated food writers festival that we know of. It provides a forum for Australian food writers and a place for hungry readers to gather. 

The festival was founded by food writer Barbara Sweeney in 2012 and ran annually in Sydney for eight years – until rudely interrupted by the global pandemic Covid-19.

Everything has been a bit wobbly since then. We took the lockdown on the chin and had a quiet break in 2020, emerging the following year excited about what was to come.

On the invitation of kind Food & Words friends, we thought we might make it to Canberra, but alas that felt too risky, what with border closures and other restrictions.

Luckily, when things calmed down a little in November 2021, we were able to stage a scaled-down pop-up in chef Martin Boetz' famed Cook's Shed on the Hawkesbury River – which proved to be beyond exciting.

Food & Words

Do you have an idea for Food & Words?

We're exploring ideas that will take Food & Words into the future.

If you have any suggestions, we'd love to hear them.

has been cancelled

Food & Words 2022

A note from Barbara

Also, the uncertainty of the past three years has taken its toll – on my small enterprise along with many others in the event space and in hospitality. To get back on track called for more than I had to give.

I hoped to celebrate the 10th festival with cake, but that's not going to happen now. Let's hope it will be on the menu next time round and that you'll be there to share in it. 

Thank you for your support,


Hello there,

If you've arrived on our site today to book a ticket for the Food & Words writers' festival, I'm sorry to say the festival has been cancelled for 2022.

It wasn't an easy decision to make. The writers' festival is the highlight of the year here at Food & Words. 

About a month out from the festival a few small things happened that made me realise I was not tracking well enough to guarantee the very best Food & Words experience for the speakers and audience.


The festival ticket is $330

This includes the full program of speakers, morning and afternoon tea, refreshments, and picnic lunch.


Sunday, October 9, 2022


10am to 4pm


Enid Cook Room, Level 1, 405 Crown Street (above the library), Surry Hills, Sydney.


Food & Words is a one-day program featuring 12 speakers. 

Speakers are being announced weekly. For details, visit the Speakers page.

Festival details

Guests over the age of 16 attending the event will be required to show proof of vaccination or medical exemption as a condition of entry in accordance with the NSW Public Health Order (in place until 1 December). 

Session 4 

Inside the algorithm: food writing & Instagram

Belinda Jeffery, cookbook author 

Lucy Tweed, cookbook author

Emiko Davies, cookbook author and food writer (online from Italy)

Session 2

On good food & lessons from nature 

Alana Mann, Sydney Environment Institute & FoodLab Sydney

Prof. Stephen J Simpson, Academic Director, Charles Perkins Institute 

Laura Dalrymple, Feather and Bone, regen ag advocate

Session 3

On writing about Australian food

Paul Van Reyk, food writer, activist

Ross Dobson, chef and cookbook author

Lee Tran Lam, food writer

Session 1 

On books, food & restaurants

Neil Perry, chef, restaurateur, author of 10 cookbooks (online from his restaurant) in conversation with food communicator Joanna Savill.

The program

Afternoon tea 

Pumpkin scones from Ross Dobson's book, Australia, The Cookbook, served with jam & cream

Flourless orange cake

Morning tea

Feather and Bone's pork sausage roll with eggplant relish

Marty's onion & gruyere tart

Beesbucha with lime & ice



Spiced, wood-roasted chicken & peaches

Roasted ocean trout with yoghurt, tahini & soft herb salad

Potato & Melanda Park smoked bacon salad

Tomato & basil salad

Heirloom carrots, honey, cinnamon, sheeps' milk yoghurt

Shaved cabbage, currant & parmesan salad

Lynne’s fermented porridge bread

Cooks Shed focaccia

Served with Lowe Family Wine Co

2021 Bio-logical Shiraz

2021 Dragonfly White

2021 Dragonfly Rose

All-day coffee

By The Little Marionette 

All-day tea and tisanes

By Apotheca by Anthia

The menu

Read about past festivals

About Cooks Shed

Chef Martin Boetz started Cooks Shed (previously Cooks Co-op) to champion the farmers and fishers of the Hawkesbury and the food they produce. 

Martin welcomes weekend diners to the rustic, corrugated-iron shed in the bush of his Hawkesbury property. 

There's an abundance of natural light and a good cross-breeze – the doors that are big enough to drive a tractor though.

Getting there

Sackville is on the Hawkesbury River, near Wilberforce. 

It’s 70 kms and a cruisy one-hour drive from Sydney’s CBD.

Date Saturday, November 20, 2021

Time 10am to 4pm

Place Cooks Shed, 2 West Portland Road, Sackville


1. Attend the event in person 

$330 Includes full-day program, all-day refreshments, lunch with wine, and a book gift.

There is a limited number of in-person tickets and these will sell fast, so please don’t delay. 

If NSW Health Orders change, we may release additional tickets, so we will keep a waiting list.

2. Live Stream in Real Time 

$55 Morning session 

$55 Afternoon session 

Join in, in real time. Follow the events of the day as they unfold.

3. Watch the Recording 

$55 Morning session 

$55 Afternoon session 

View the event at your leisure and at a time that suits. The recording will be available until midnight Sunday, November 28, 2021. We will let you know when it's uploaded. 

Event details

EXTRA seats have been released. Bookings essential

Like all Martin's menus, the dishes for our dinner are based on seasonal Hawkesbury ingredients. 

We'll enjoy shared platters of salt & pepper Hawkesbury school prawns, smoked trout rice cakes, topped with chilli jam and chickpea & tomato curry with raita & spiced pappadums.

Food & Words will finish at 4pm, but there's no need to rush off because chef Martin Boetz is cooking a family-style dinner. 

There is no lovelier time of the day than twilight at the Cooks Shed. 

The bar will be open and dinner will be served at 5.30pm.

Book for dinner when you book your Food & Words ticket.

Stay for an early dinner

Thank you to book publishers... 

Food & Words is proud to work with

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. 

We'll send regular newsletters and post on social media whenever we have breaking news, so make sure to sign up to the newsletter or follow us on Instagram or Facebook to be in the know.

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

The program

Writing Courses

Where we connect over the pleasures of the table and enjoy good food and stimulating conversation (about food!). Where we support and enjoy the hospitality offered by creative cooks and chefs.  Where we flex our conversational and listening skills and remember our table manners. Everyone's invited. Tables are kept small, so that everyone is an active pacticipant. Outings monthly.

Supper Club



Four-course set menu and interesting wines to complement. 

Club Fontana
Upstairs, 133a Redfern Street, Redfern

June 20

King Clarence, City 

May 9

Club Fontana, Redfern


Sunday lunch, noon

Two generous courses. Drinks at Club prices from the bar.

Rowie's By The Sea

Newport Surf Life Saving Club, 394 Barrenjoey Road, Newport

April 21

Rowie's by the Sea,




Banquet menu and interesting wines with the meal.

King Clarence
171 Clarence Street, Sydney

Coming up

Our first residential food memoir writing workshop is being held at the home of Jillie Arnott at Coolah Creek in central west NSW in late autumn, in May, 2024.

Jillie, an amazing country cook, and her husband Will are our hosts. Guests/students are invited to stay at the homestead for one, two or three nights. Or, you can travel in daily for the workshop, which runs from 10am–4pm on May 4–5.

Here's your chance to tackle that long-held dream to write your family food stories and recipes down for future generations to enjoy.

We're bound to spend as much time in the kitchen and around the dining table as we do writing – although you don't have to, there is a veranda chair with your name on it.

May  4–5

Food memoir writing