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
Tickets on sale soon

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

Join us for an amazing day


Sydney’s food writers’ festival.

For book readers and food lovers 


10am to 4pm

Saturday September 15, 2018


The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street, Sydney


$285 (includes lunch and wine, morning and afternoon tea, all-day tea and coffee and a gift)

The program

  • Firedoor chef Lennox Hastie & photographer Nikki To
  • Masterchef winner Adam Liaw
  • Merino sheep farmer Charles Massy
  • Historian and author Barbara Santich
  • Chef Ross Dobson & photographer Rachel Tolosa Paz
  • Kristen Bradley and Nick Ritar from Milkwood 
  • Journalist Gabrielle Chan
  • Flour and Stone baker Nadine Ingram
  • Sydney Living Museum's historian Megan Martin

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.

Tea by Ovvio Organics   •   Coffee by The Little Marionette   •  

Wine from Urban Winery Sydney    •   Potts Point Bookshop 

Kindly supported by

Presented by

Lennox Hastie

Chef and owner Firedoor

Author Finding Fire

Lennox Hastie’s restaurant Firedoor in Sydney is Australia’s only fully wood-fuelled restaurant. That means that every dish on the menu is cooked either in the fiercely burning ovens on the rear wall or on the grill, which features a pulley system that allows Lennox and his team to raise and lower food over the fire according to the amount of heat and smoke desired. Like many of us, Lennox is fascinated about fire and has made it his mission to understand it.Before fire, early in his career, Lennox worked in Michelin Star restaurants across the UK, France and Spain. The experience of cooking alongside Victor Arguinzoniz at Etxebarri, a small Basque asador with a strong tradition of wood-fired grilling, proved to be a turning point. He was exposed to a form of cooking that was so completely different, beautifully complex, yet simple, one that highlighted ingredients in their most natural state. All that he has learned about fire can be found in Finding Fire, a historical, cultural and culinary account of what it means to cook with fire. In a world yearning to re-engage with what makes us human, it reveals how it is possible for all of us to embrace this ancient and revered form of cooking. firedoor.com.au

Rachel Tolosa Paz

Writer, photographer, bookseller

Photographer The Food of Argentina

As a writer, Rachel has a background in contemporary art and has written extensively for numerous Australian publications such as Art Collector, Art & Australia, The Saturday Paper, Collective Magazine and ABC Arts. Her photographic work has been shown at The Australian Centre for Photography, Firstdraft, Chalk Horse, NextWave Festival and she was a recipient of the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship. She has lived in New York City where she worked as an assistant to Tracey Moffatt. In Sydney, she was a co-director of influential artist-run space, Locksmith Project Space and a co-founder of SMAC-nominated collaboration, bams & ted. She has also worked as a bookseller for more than 17 years, working in both antiquarian and new books. After completing her Masters in 2014, Rachel travelled to Argentina to take part in a writing residency at Residencia Corazón in La Plata, Buenos Aires. A two-month residency turned into a year-long stint – she fell head over heels for a country, a funny little gridded town called La Plata and, somewhat later, for a boy from that town who is now her husband. The Food of Argentina is her first book. racheltolosapaz.com and bamsandted

Ross Dobson

Food editor, author, photo chef

Author The Food of Argentina (and many more)

Western Sydney-born Ross Dobson’s books, including the Fired Up series (Fired Upthe Australian nomination for Best in the World barbecue cookbook category at the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards; More Fired Up; Fired Up: Vegetarian and Fired Up: No Nonsense Barbecue) have sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. His latest, The Food of Argentina, co-produced with photographer Rachel Tolosa Paz, is to be released in time to stuff cooks’ Christmas stockings later this year.  (Pre-release copies will be available at Food & Words – ­thanks to Smith Street and Simon & Schuster.) Ross has contributed food stories and columns for newspapers and magazines in Australia and the UK and worked as contributing food editor for the Australian BBC Good Food Magazine. Ross opened and operated The Union Restaurant in Penrith and Café at Lewers in the Penrith Regional Gallery and in doing so was described in The Sydney Morning Herald as a pioneer of the growing food scene in Penrith.  Ross has also had years of experience as a photo chef, the person on set who cooks the food so that it appears  beautifully in photographs.

Adam Liaw

Food writer and TV presenter

Author Destination Flavour: People and Places

Winning the TV cooking show MasterChef in 2010 was just the start in food writing and television presenting for Adam Liaw. Since his nail-biting victory, Adam has gone on to write about food for a range of publications, from The Guardian to The Wall Street Journal and written five cookbooks. The latest, Destination Flavour: People and Places, to be released by Hardie Grant on September 1, is based on Adam’s SBS television series. Which is brilliant. Because if you were one of the many viewers to salivate over the paperbark-wrapped barramundi with saltbush wild rice from the Australian series or earlier, when Adam was in Japan, were convinced you’d die if you never tasted the TanTan Ramen, then both recipes are now within reach. The series has taken Adam around Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Scandinavia and Singapore and, in 2016, won the AACTA award for Best Lifestyle Television Program. Having lived in and written extensively about Japan the Japanese government has appointed Adam as a Goodwill Ambassador of Japanese Cuisine. He is also UNICEF Australia’s National Ambassador for Nutrition. See adamliaw.com

Megan Martin

Head Collections & Access, Sydney Living Museums

For Food & Words, Megan unearths some of the food-related treasures held in the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection. This very special collection includes 19th and 20th century manufacturers’ trade catalogues listing everything from the kitchen sink to delicate chocolate moulds. It includes a collection of domestic advice manuals, some of which outline the perks attached to various jobs. (The dripping from a roast joint was the cook’s perk. Yum.) The collection also includes two manuscript recipe books from the 1800s, a collection of 20th century menus from the papers of late Sydney interior decorator Leslie Walford, and other odd food or drink-related treasures including a copy of the richly informative Carte gastronomique de la FranceMegan has worked as a consultant historian in the heritage field and has been a member of the General Council of the History Council of NSW since its formation in 1996. She has contributed commissioned biographical entries to the Australian Dictionary of Biography and has curated exhibitions on Augusto Lorenzini: Italian Artist Decorator in Victorian Sydney at Elizabeth Bay House in 2001; Dream Home-Small Home at the Museum of Sydney in 2014 and The Artist & the Botanical Collector: the lost works of Lovegrove & Bäuerlen at the Museum of Sydney in 2016.

The items Megan talks about will be on display at the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection during the Food & Words lunch break.

Barbara Santich



Author Wild Asparagus, Wild Strawberries


Barbara is Professor Emeritus at the University of Adelaide, where she initiated post-graduate courses in food history and culture, and food writing. An internationally respected culinary historian, she is the author of eight books including the award-winning Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage (2012) and Looking for Flavour (1996). As a food writer Barbara has contributed to numerous Australian newspapers and magazines as well as overseas publications, including The Journal of Gastronomy, Petits Propos Culinaires, the New York Times and Slow. She contributed extensively to the Oxford Companion to Food, edited by Alan Davidson. Her interest in food and eating was initially stimulated by her study of biochemistry and later, under the influence of writers such as Waverley Root and Elizabeth David, by travel in Europe, particularly France. Her most recent book Wild Asparagus, Wild Strawberries: Two Years in France (Wakefield Press) tells the story of the two years she lived in France with her husband and infant twins. Bouyed by naïve enthusiasm, Barbara and her husband launched themselves into French village life, a world of winemaking, rabbit raising and cherry picking.

I drank Normandy farmhouse cider, ate strawberries dipped in red wine then sugar, and tasted truffles and soft goat cheeses for the first time. I returned to Australia inspired to become a food writer”.

Featured Writers

Gabrielle Chan


Author Rusted Off: Why country Australia is fed up

Gabrielle Chan has been a journalist for more than 30 years and has been a political journalist and politics live blogger at Guardian Australia since 2013. Prior to that, she worked at The Australian, ABC radio, the Daily Telegraph, in local newspapers and politics. Gabrielle has written and edited history books, biographies and a recipe book. The daughter of a Singaporean migrant, Gabrielle moved from the Canberra press gallery to a small country town
to marry a sheep and wheat farmer in 1996 – the year Pauline Hanson was first elected to federal parliament.
She noticed the economic and cultural divide between the city and the country, the differences in political culture and yawning gap between the parliament and small town life.
In September 2017, she swapped interviews with politicians with interviews of ordinary people on her main street to discover why they think politics has moved so far from their lives. The result is a book, to be released in September 2018 by Penguin Random House, called Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up. In the process, Gabrielle draws conclusions about the current state of our rural political representation, the gap between city and country – which inevitable involves the production, distribution and consumption of food – and how to bridge it.

Nadine Ingram


Founder of Flour and Stone

Author Flour and Stone, Baked for Love, Life and Happiness

Nadine Ingram of Sydney’s leading bakery Flour and Stone is on the cusp of releasing her first book, Flour and Stone: Baked for Love, Life and Happiness (Simon and Schuster). It is a collection of the recipes for which she and the bakery are renowned – those pannacotta lamington, lemon drizzle cake, vanilla layer cake and more – as well as detailed instructions of skills and techniques accumulated from cooking and baking at MG Garage and Bourke Street Bakery in Sydney and at Michelin-starred restaurants such as La Gavroche, Caprice and The Ivy in London. The Flour and Stone story started in 2006 when Nadine started a homemade biscuit business from her home kitchen. It was so successful that she opened the bakery in Wooloomooloo five years. In 2017, Nadine was nominated for a Telstra Business Women’s Award, a testament to her belief in strong, creative business women making their mark within the baking community and beyond.

Be among the first to buy the book. In an exclusive, Flour and Stone will be available at Food & Words ahead of its publishing date later in September. flourandstone.com.au

Charles Massy

Merino sheep farmer, Monaro NSW
Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture A New Earth

Charles Massy’s book, published in 2017, has had a huge impact around the world. He writes about the urgency of rethinking the way we farm and grow food, and the need to regenerate failing farmland, address climate change and to build heathy communities. Charles has a Bachelor of Science, a PhD in Human Ecology and is a long time merino sheep farmer on the Monaro, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service to research organisations and statutory wool boards. In this ground-breaking book and using his own farming experience – he took on the responsibility of the family farm at the age of 22 – Charles throws light on the undermining of established systems of farming by profit driven big business, which he argues is endangering the planet. Research for the book saw Charles crisscross the Continent to meet outstanding farmers, whose innovative thinking and practice he believes is leading the way for the future and their work our best chance of securing the health of Australia’s landscape and food supply. While the research was as rigorous as a PhD demands, Charles was determined that the book not be academic in tone, rather a simple path towards ecological literacy. A belief that underpins the work, is that a healthy, long-term agriculture has the capacity to pull carbon back into soil, going some way towards righting some of our agricultural wrongs. Read more here.

Monday Morning Cooking Club
Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ritar
Makers and Doers

Founders of Milkwood

Authors Milkwood: Real Skills for Down To Earth Living

Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ritar left the city to start a small permaculture farm called Milkwood 10 years ago, with a dream of living simply and within their means. Since then, they’ve been growing food and sharing skills wherever they’ve lived or travelled — from building biochar stoves to creating rooftop community gardens to teaching permaculture design. They currently live, grow, forage and keep bees on a permaculture farm near Daylesford.  Milkwood: Real Skills for Down to Earth Living is the couple’s first book. In it, they explore five ingredients and a myriad of associated skills, covering tomatoes. mushrooms, beekeeping, seaweed and wild food. They believe that the skills we learn bind our lives together. So, if you want to know how to keep bees, forage for edible seaweed along the shoreline, or wild greens down by the stream, or cultivate mushrooms or grow the perfect tomato, you know what to read. They designed the book to be read with a pot of tea by your elbow and a notebook beside you. It’s for all of us who dream of living a more home-grown life but don’t know where to start. www.Milkwood.net

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

Kindly supported by

Presented by


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

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