School of Artisan Food: Food for Though Lectures
It's a long old way to drive from east Suffolk to the depths of Sherwood Forest and beyond to the School of Artisan Food, but the annual Food for Thought Lectures have become a firm fixture in my calendar.
The School of Artisan Food was founded around the same time I started Food Safari with a similar ethos to teach people about food with hands-on courses with a particular focus on fermentation - from bread, to cheese, beer and curing meat. Its home is an incredibly grand building which housed the fire engines for the enormous (15,000 acres!) Welbeck Estate, home to the Dukes of Portland.
The Food for Thought Lectures run over a May weekend as two days of talks and discussions with some of the country's most interesting and engaging food writers, journalists and chefs. The audience is small, intimate even, and it's a lovely opportunity to meet new people and chat with old friends. The programme has no specific theme and discussions including the inimitable Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis entertaining us with food memories and some favourite food books from Eliza Acton, to Florence White and Dorothy Hartley.
Joanna Blythman talked on the subject of her latest book Swallow This about the problems of processed food and so called 'Clean Labels'; Bee Wilson spoke on her brilliant book First Bite: How we Learned to Eat and the inspiring school food campaigner, Jeanette Orrery, talked about her in-the-field experience of school food and the incredible work she's done on the School Food Plan.
We also heard from some of my favourite chefs and food writers, Olia Hercules, Itmar and Sarit from Honey & Co; food historian Ivan Day and art historian Andrew Graham Dixon.
I will certainly be back next year.