Food Programme

Food Programme

United Kingdom

Investigating every aspect of the food we eat


Cookbooks of 2016  

Sheila Dillon and guests discuss the year's food and cookery books - focussing on debut food books. Joining Sheila in the studio is cook, gardener and writer Jojo Tulloh, journalist and food writer Alex Renton, and the Features Editor at the trade magazine The Bookseller, Tom Tivnan. There's also tales of cider, science and rogueishness with drinks writer Henry Jeffreys. Also offering up her 2016 choices - is food loving BBC 6 Music DJ, Cerys Matthews. Presenter: Sheila Dillon Producer: Rich Ward.

Our Wild Spice Rack  

Sheila Dillon heads to Galloway, Scotland, to meet forager and wild food teacher Mark Williams - who claims to be able to match anything in our spice racks with flavours found in the wild, in the UK. Can he assemble a 'native spice rack'? What might a 'wild Scottish curry' taste like? Presenter: Sheila Dillon Producer: Rich Ward.

Cooking clubs in Basqueland  

Spain's Basque region exerts a powerful influence on global cuisine, Dan Saladino finds out why. Heston Blumenthal and writer Harold Mcgee provide insights into this food culture.

Gavin and the Chinese Food Olympics  

Every four years, the most established names in Chinese cuisine pitch their skills against each other in an international competition which has become known as the Olympics of Chinese food. This year the World Championship for Chinese Cuisine was held in Europe for the first time in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Teams of chefs descend on the competition from around the world and compete for highly prized gold, silver and bronze medals. The pressure and the standard are high. In 2016, another first. The first UK based team are travelling to Rotterdam to take on the champions. Among them is 25 year old sous chef Gavin Chun. Gavin and his team are going for gold. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Clare Salisbury.

Pumpkins and Winter Squash  

Sheila Dillon and special guests discover a delicious world of pumpkins and winter squash. It's Halloween time, and pumpkins are making their annual appearance in windows and on doorsteps. But these winter squash are part of a fascinating family of fruit (yes, fruit - not vegetable) with huge culinary potential that many feel uncomfortable around. This programme aims to change that. Sheila invites chef, restaurateur and squash-lover Romy Gill to her kitchen, where they're joined by Neil Munro - manager of the Heritage Seed Library at Garden Organic (formerly the Henry Doubleday Research Association). To help with the deeper history, they enlist the help of Ken Albala, Professor of Food Studies at the University of the Pacific in California. Presenter: Sheila Dillon Producer: Rich Ward.

Terra Madre Part 2: A Global Food Gathering  

From ancient Egyptian bread to Native American food, Dan Saladino reports from Terra Madre.

Terra Madre Part 1: A Global Food Gathering  

Dan Saladino reports from Slow Food's global food event Terra Madre with stories from Africa. Terra Madre (aka Mother Earth) is probably one of the world's biggest gatherings around food. Thousands of farmers, cooks and producers travel from 140 countries and five different continents to congregate in the northern Italian city of Turin. Hundreds of thousands of people simply interested in food also travel from Italy and beyond to join in the spectacle; to watch events, join discussions and (importantly) experience the most diverse range of food and drink imaginable. The biannual event is organised by the international Slow Food movement to raise awareness about issues around food and drink and to celebrate the diversity of food cultures around the world. It is also a unique opportunity to hear inspirational stories of how people produce and cook food. Dan Saladino was there to collect as many stories as he could from around the world. Over two editions of The Food Programme he tells highlights from Terra Madre. In this first programme the focus is on Africa and features the story of three people who in their home countries are trying to make a positive change through food. The first comes from a village thousands of metres up within the highlands of south-eastern Ethiopia, Rira. There, honey producers use bamboo to create bee hives. They smoke the bark of a tree to "perfume" the hive and attract the bees. These long bamboo tubes are coated in leaves, sealed with animal manure and then placed 25m high up in trees among the rainforest canopy. In recent years the honey they collect has been sold to the producers of a honey wine in Ethiopia which is both traditional and popular. However the prices paid for this hard to get honey have been low. Terra Madre is an opportunity for producers around the world to meet and exchange ideas and over the years the Rira villagers have met honey producers from Macedonia, Brazil, Japan and Indonesia. From this "knowledge exchange" the Rira were able to set up a co-operative, improve the quality of the honey and sell it in Ethiopia's biggest towns and cities. This has meant more people are now able to make a real living from honey production and remain in the village (and important opportunity when the country is seeing large numbers leave rural areas and move to the cities). The second story comes from Uganda and is told by Edward Mukiibi who oversees Slow Food projects in the country. One of the most important involves the world's (and the UK's) most popular fruit, the banana. In Uganda 50 different varieties are used on a daily basis. Some are used to brew beers or distil drinks that feature in ceremonies. The banana we know well in the UK is the Cavendish, the variety that has dominated the global trade for more than half a century. The fungal, Panama disease, has had an impact on Cavendish plantations around the world leading to reduced production in Australia and Asia. In Africa, more Cavendish plantations are being established. Edward explains in the programme why he's now on a mission to save Uganda's traditional banana varieties and protect the country's biodiversity. The final story from Sierra Leone and is that of the experience of a child soldier who was involved in the violent civil war that tore the country apart in the 1990's. Ibrahim was abducted by the RUF rebel force at the age of nine. As he explains to Dan, he was involved in atrocities and had to fight against the government's forces in armed combat. For seven years he lived and fought with this rebel army. When he finally managed to escape he was rejected by his community. It became clear his return wouldn't would easy and forgiveness hard to win. In the programme Ibrahim describes how food and farming was the key to his eventual redemption. Presented and produced by Dan Saladino. Photo: Carla Capalbo.

The Apple: How British a Fruit?  

As apple fairs and celebrations are held all around the country, Sheila Dillon travels to an orchard in Devon for a conversation with drinks writer Pete Brown, who has just written a book about his two-year journey into all things apple: 'The Apple Orchard'. Sheila and Pete are joined at Otter Farm by its owner - food grower and writer Mark Diacono. From the Hoary Morning to the Bramley's Seedling to the Old Somerset Russet, from Kazakhstan to Paganism to the Garden of Eden - this is a celebration of a fruit with an incredible story to tell and with a unique place both in Britain, and the world. Please note: the podcast of this programme is a special extended edition. Presenter: Sheila Dillon Producer: Rich Ward.

Diet and Dementia  

For the 850 thousand families in the UK living with dementia, the simple daily practise of eating a meal can escalate into a dreaded challenge. Spurred on by a listener's personal experience, Sheila Dillon meets people living with dementia to ask how their relationship with food has changed. American food writer Paula Wolfert has written award winning books on the food of the Mediterranean. In 2012, she was diagnosed with a form of dementia and after careful research she transformed her daily diet. As Paula prepares to release what will be her final book, Sheila speaks to her about what food means now. Sheila also meets James Ashwell, a young entrepreneur whose online business venture was inspired by caring for his mother who loved to cook. Sheila hears from Professor Margaret Rayman, who heads the nutritional medicine course at the University of Surrey. Her book 'Healthy Eating to Reduce the Risk of Dementia' draws on hundreds of academic papers into nutrition and the brain. And in an area which still requires so much research, Sheila speaks to an American academic embarking on what could be the 'gold standard' study into how what we eat affects the development of dementia. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Clare Salisbury Photo credit: Alison van Diggelen.

Food Stories from Syria 2  

This week, as aid convoys carrying food into Syria have been under attack, Dan Saladino revisits the conflict. A year ago, he reported on how displaced Syrians managed to eat and survive in conflict and its impact on the country's ancient food culture. In this episode he investigates how food is being used as a weapon - and target - of war. He hears from the World Food Programme about new efforts they've been making to reach over 4 million people with food aid, many of whom live in besieged and isolated areas, with staff risking their lives to do so. Bakeries have reportedly been targeted in bombing raids and traders have been profiteering by controlling the availability of food, creating a wartime economy. Yet despite the attacks and broken ceasefires, efforts are already being made to create new food businesses for when peace returns. Work to train up beekeepers and tomato growers is already taking place to sustain a post-conflict Syria. Here in the UK, Dan meets some of those whom the Government pledged to resettle from camps outside Syria. In Mansfield, Nottinghamshire he shares lunch with two families for whom Eid is a very different and emotional experience. We also hear from American-Syrian journalist Dalia Mortada who has charted the Syrian diaspora to see how this age-old food culture is being shared and celebrated around the world. Presented by Dan Saladino Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock.

An Antarctic Chef  

Charles Green. Chas to his family, 'cook' to his colleagues. A young baker whose sense of adventure drew him to a career cooking on the sea. You may never have heard of Charles, but you certainly will have heard of an expedition on which he played a crucial role... Charles was cook for the crew of the 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. A disastrous expedition which ended up lasting for more than two years. The men were forced to camp on moving ice flows, and eventually a remote Antarctic beach on Elephant Island. But against all odds, every man on Shackleton's ship The Endurance survived. In August 1916, the men were rescued. They were on the edge of starvation. During their time on the ice, Charlie Green cooked tirelessly using his creative flair to concoct meals out of exceptionally meagre means. His food kept the men alive. He went back to the Antarctic with Shackleton on the expedition which would be Shackleton's last. But then, despite living until the 1970s, he faded into obscurity. Known only for slide shows that he gave locally with the well-known images of the expedition. One hundred years on, another Antarctic chef Gerard Baker, uncovers the extraordinary life led by Charles Green and his version of two years cooking for the men of the Endurance. One of the greatest survival stories of all time. Presented by Gerard Baker and Sheila Dillon Produced by Clare Salisbury.

Cooking for Poldark  

As the much-anticipated new series of Poldark returns to our screens, most eyes will be on Aidan Turner but behind the scenes a raft of experts has worked to ensure each setting is as accurate to the time as possible - including the food. The Food Programme was given special access on set to see the effort that goes into recreating the fantastic feasts that marked so many social functions in the Georgian era and were a marker of class and wealth. Food Stylist Genevieve Taylor is used to creating wonderful images of food for cookery books and adverts but in her first period drama she faced a new set of challenges - researching the typical foods available at the time and how they were served, how to recreate them, which 'cheats' to use all before transporting the food to set intact, dressing the scene and preventing the crew from stealing the goodies. She invites us into her kitchen and to the secret set locations for an insight into the detailed effort made - but it's not easy. From sourcing obscure fruits, to whipping up dishes under a gazebo, balancing tiered cakes on wobbly dishes to turning out jellies in front of a whole crew - can she impress Ross Poldark, the Directors and the audience? Presented by Genevieve Taylor and Sheila Dillon Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock.

Coffee and the God Shot. The Drinks Menu  

Dan Saladino journeys into coffee's past, present and future. He discovers a world of new flavours, far from his formative espresso experiences in Sicily - and finds that things are more precarious than they may seem. Are we living in a golden age of coffee? Behind every cup of coffee is a story - or rather many stories. A whole chain, from people to processes, all of which make a difference to the taste and experience. Featured in the programme are Stephen Leighton - roaster and founder of Hasbean, James Hoffman - author of 'The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing', Barista Claire Wallace - Winner of the 2015 Scottish Aeropress Championships, Professor Robert W Thurston - coffee shop owner and Senior Editor of 'Coffee - A Comprehensive Guide', Alejandro Martinez - Coffee Grower in El Salvador and Sarada Krishnan - Director of Horticulture at the Denver Botanic Gardens and coffee scientist..... and Joe of Brew in Bristol who makes Dan's espressos when he takes a break from The Food Programme office. The podcast of this programme features extra material, including coffee businessman Kenfe Bellay on the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony and a new coffee story from the Ark of Taste. Producer: Rich Ward.

Whisky Britannia: The Drinks Menu  

With 20 million casks lying in storage maturing, Scotch whisky looks set to hold its strong place in the world market for decades to come. It's the third biggest industry in Scotland, contributing £3.3 billion to the economy per year. But the landscape is changing - both within Scotland and across the UK. Recent years have seen dozens of new distilleries opening in Scotland and also in Wales, Northern Ireland and England. Sheila Dillon celebrates 'Whisky Britannia' to discover who exactly is choosing to start distilling whisky, how you perfect your craft and flavour and become distinctive in such a busy marketplace. Do these new brands have anything to offer which the established companies haven't tried? Reporter and whisky lover Rachel McCormack also uncovers the secrets of perfecting a blend, and trying to please a foreign market who may also mix it with coconut or green tea. Whisky writer and expert Dave Broom shares some of the extraordinary things he's seen but warns many markets from Iceland to Japan are keen to get a taste of the action too. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock.

Time for an Aperitif? The Drinks Menu  

In French, 'l'aperitif', in Italian, 'l'aperitivo'. We don't of course have a translation in English, but the aperitif, the drinks and snacks which proceed a meal have long captured our imaginations. The sounds and smells of Mediterranean holidays, the tastes of a summer day... and those glamorous and just a bit tacky TV adverts from the 70s. ('Dubonnet vous?') Food writer Diana Henry fell for those adverts, and then experienced l'aperitif as a teenager on a French exchange. Now, with the rise and rise of low alcohol, sprtizy cocktails in our pubs and bars, Diana wants you to embrace the aperitif, in its many forms and flavours. She explores the history of the aperitivo in Italy, from it's Roman origins to it's significance for the Futurist movement. In France, she reflects on the cultural and social significance of aperitif, and hears how once deemed old fashioned, brands like Suze, and Dubonnet are making a comeback. And in Britain, she discovers chefs making their own infusions with ingredients from a Suffolk garden and the Somerset countryside. In the first of The Food Programme's summer drinks series 'The Drinks Menu', Diana wants you to take a moment, a cold glass, some ice and a bottle and appreciate an aperitif. Presented by Diana Henry Produced by Clare Salisbury.

Roger Protz: A Life Through Beer  

From being tucked under the pub bar stool as a baby to getting into Fleet Street pubs underage, Roger Protz's passion for beer began early. He's spent 40 years on a mission to celebrate and protect brewing traditions - writing about brewing and beers including over 20 editions of the Good Beer Guide. Arguably what he was writing about then is what many hold important today - in both food and drink. His passion and excitement about innovation and new flavours hasn't waned. He took Sheila to one of his favourite local pubs to try some new local ales before sharing more about his life and career. His writing saw him forge a path to parts of the world where few were travelling - including hunting out beers and brewers in Czechoslovakia before the fall of the Iron Curtain, his eyes were opened to Belgian beers and tastings through France, and across to the USA, all of which he shared with his readers. Roger has also worked for the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) since the 70s helping bring real ale back from the brink of extinction as a threatened minority drink to a thriving British craft industry. His work has also seen him fighting to help save pubs - to put it simply, 'no pub, no ale'. But his opinions haven't been without controversy and while he celebrates the rise of the microbrewers, CAMRA is now asking its members on whether it should remodel itself and embrace all beers and beer drinkers. Presented by Sheila Dillon. Produced in Bristol by Anne-Marie Bullock.

The Surprising Strawberry  

2016's strawberry solstice fell as the UK's strawberry pickers embarked on a bigger crop than ever before. Strawberries have become a supermarket staple - no longer a seasonal treat. But as our appetite for the berries has increased, production it seems, is becoming more complicated. Californian strawberry farmers, who produce one of the biggest crops in the world, are facing some of the most challenging times in recent history. Back in post-Brexit Britain, fruit farmers are looking for assurance that they'll still attract pickers from the continent. Yet the strawberry is interwoven into our culture like no other fruit, and when good, can be the flavour, scent and colour of summer. Chef Jeremy Lee, author Jane McMorland Hunter, farmer Marion Regan, professor Julie Guthman and winemakers Ron and Judith Gillies help Sheila Dillon unravel the surprising story of the strawberry. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Clare Salisbury.

Raising the Pulse  

Pulses are little marvels - protein packed lentils, peas and beans are cheap, good for health and help the soil. They're central to many food cultures including Italy and France but as a nation we eat very few other than baked beans. Now the Food and Agriculture Organisation has announced the 'Year of the Pulse' to encourage us to eat more but they may be met with reluctance from some quarters. Sheila Dillon's panel will kick off any tarnished reputation of wind and worthiness with tips on how to prepare pulses with ease and how to choose them. Chef Sanjay Kumar and cookery expert and author Jenny Chandler get cooking in the studio with a breakfast sambhar from Goa and 'black badgers and bacon' - a traditional Black Country dish better known as grey peas and bacon which tastes far better than the name would suggest. Farmers across the UK grow fava beans to help enrich the soil yet most of them are exported or fed to animals. Nick Saltmarsh was so shocked when he learnt this that he set up a company to market British beans to consumers and he's now asking farmers to grow other varieties especially. In addition to dried and tinned pulses he's selling them as snacks and flours and looking into pastas and other uses for them. Sheila's also discovered a beer made from British fava beans and now chocolate covered pulses are hitting the shelves. It's a hard job but someone's got to try them for you. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock.

Kitchens of Power  

Why is cheese essential when the German Chancellor comes for dinner? Dan Saladino explains why a plate of food shouldn't be taken at face value in this special episode of the Food Programme, made in collaboration with the Food Chain on The World Service. This week we enter an arena usually hidden from public view; the kitchens behind the most powerful people on the planet, where politics, policy and diplomacy are the main ingredients. For millennia, international relations have been massaged by the chefs working inside palaces and state kitchens and their food might have influenced some of the biggest decisions in history. Dan meets Gilles Bragard, the founder of the world's most exclusive culinary club, Le Club des Chefs Des Chefs, which brings together 20 people who cook for Heads of State. Gilles shares some food secrets, including President Putin's food security protocols. We visit the kitchens of Hampton Court Palace, where in 16th century England, wine fountains and roasted meats were cooked to help Henry VIII impress and intimidate foreign dignitaries. The White House kitchen, is perhaps the most influential in the modern era and Sam Kass, former chef and close friend to the Obamas, explains how policies were cooked up in State kitchens. Professor Stephen Chan of London's School of Oriental and African Studies tells the story behind Robert Mugabe's lavish feasts. David Geisser, a former Vatican Swiss Guard, provides insights into the culinary preferences of Pope Francis and finally, we hear from a journalist in Brussels who has witnessed some recent and dramatic EU meals, including the former British Prime Minister David Cameron's last supper with European leaders. Producer: Emily Thomas.

Albania and the Cheese Road  

Dan Saladino travels on a new road in Albania that leads to an undiscovered cheese world.

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