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 

In the wake of two years of restrictions, border closures, lock down and a cancellation, 100 people gathered in the fresh, country air on the perimeter of Sydney for the Food & Words 2021 pop-up event.  

It was the first time we'd ever filmed and streamed the event and we learned you must come back from lunch at the advertised time!

The event was held at Martin Boetz's Cooks Shed, right on the Hawkesbury River at Sackville. The Shed is a large, rustic and beautiful space in a bush setting and, with all that fresh air, the right venue for the times. 

Food & Words is seeking a new venue for the 2022 event, which marks the begining of something new. It's also our 10th birthday.

It wasn't only that we were inspired by all 11 speakers on the 2021 program, or that we were treated to an excellent menu of food, wine and drinks, or that we indulged in the purchase of many new books.

The  mere fact of coming together proved how powerful and important connecting is, especially after a 26-month hiatus. The day was sheer delight.

2021, on the Hawkesbury River

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 2021 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

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