Investigating every aspect of the food we eat
Kitchen obsessives: Why aim to cook the perfect dish?
March 2020. Supermarket shelves were bare, restaurants and takeaways were closed, schools and workplaces closed. Perhaps it's no surprise then that all around the world, people started getting creative in the kitchen. But as Leyla Kazim finds in this programme, some cooks took lockdown cooking to a whole new level.
Warwickshire cook Dan Fell made headlines for sharing his 'perfect' fried chicken recipe after spending 18 months testing it. In New York, journalist and chef Bill Buford became obsessed with cooking the perfect roast chicken. And journalist Kate Ng spent her days emulating the perfect crimps on her Grandmother's curry puffs. It seemed we'd become culinary perfectionists in our own kitchens.
For Leyla Kazim, lockdown was all about baking the perfect sourdough loaf. In this programme she wants asks why so many of us became obsessed with creating the perfect meal, and what the quest for perfecting a dish says about us. She speaks to long standing recipe obsessives food writer Felicity Cloake and 'obsessional' Youtube cook Alex.
Presented by Leyla Kazim.
Produced by Clare Salisbury for BBC Audio in Bristol.
The Ice Cream Van: A Celebration.
Dan Saladino and his dad Bobo (a former ice-cream man) talk Mr Whippy, 99s and Screwballs. Together Dan and Bobo (who also used to work in restaurants) have explored the wonders of pizza, and looked at the rise of 'Spag Bol,' Now they turn their attention to the history, science and magic of ice-cream on wheels.
Featuring John Dickie (author of Delizia and The Craft) and Polly Russell (British Library) on the history of ice cream.
Graphic novelist Matthew Dooley (who drew the image for this edition) talks about his book Flake, a drama set in the world of ice-cream vans.
Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.
A different kind of S.W.A.T team: Food in Lockdown
In 2019, Romy Gill met Randeep Singh, CEO of NishkamSWAT (Sikh Welfare & Awareness Team). 10 years previous, Randeep and his colleagues had a moment of realisation. More than 200 people in their immediate local community were living without a home. They were hidden from normal life, living beneath bridges or in refuse collection rooms. Together, they decided they could do something to help them, and they begun a project cooking hot meals and sourcing food donations.
But they didn't stop there. NishkamSWAT was only in it's infancy. More than a decade on, Randeep and his central team now co-ordinate a fleet of vans, and more than 1000 volunteers, who gather several times a week to provide food and drinks, health services and support at locations across the country and the world. The project comes from the Sikh concept of 'Langar', a volunteer run kitchen found in Sikh temples, and inspired by the message of Guru Nanak. But this is food for anyone who needs it.
Then in March 2020, Covid-19 struck and the UK went into lockdown. Suddenly the number of people out on the streets increased, with many people who'd been working in hospitality suddenly out of work. So how have Randeep and his 'different kind of SWAT team' managed to keep running the food service which so many have come to rely on? In this programme, we hear Romy Gill cooking with volunteers, and serving people in central London last year. And Randeep tells how his team have managed to keep their food service going under challenging circumstances. Romy also speaks to chef Ravinder Bhogal of Jikoni restaurant, one of the chefs inspired to help.
Presented by Sheila Dillon with Romy Gill.
Produced by Clare Salisbury.
A BBC Audio Bristol production for Radio 4
Sitopia - a land with food at its centre
Prime Minister Carolyn Steel joins Sheila Dillon for this special edition of The Food Programme from the year 2030. Sheila discusses the prime minister’s rise to power after Britain saw food shortages and riots in the 2020s and what it is like to now live in Sitopia - a land with food at the centre of everyone’s lives.
After meeting the prime minister in the Rose Garden, which is now a bounteous vegetable garden, Ms Steel and Sheila take a walk around London to see the radical changes to the country. She meets Chris Young from the Real Bread Campaign to hear about how the banning of industrial bread has created thousands of jobs in bakeries. Sheila holograms with Stephen Ritz, founder of The Green Bronx Machine, to hear how his pioneering work inspired the prime minister to turn school playing fields into gardens and classrooms into kitchens. And they speak with ‘agriwilding’ farmer Rebecca Hosking to see how nature and farming now coexist.
Back in the Rose Garden Sheila interviews the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Patrick Holden - who in 2020 was the chief executive of The Sustainable Food Trust - to question him on how Britain can afford to live in Sitopia without a substantial raise in taxes.
Prime Minister Steel explains how the Good Food Revolution all began after her book ‘Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World’ was published in 2020.
Presenter: Sheila Dillon
Producer: Emma Weatherill
Plate of the Nation
This year has already been a big one for food-related events and announcements - from the impact of Covid-19 and panic buying stripping supermarket shelves, to high-profile campaigns around school holiday hunger, to the government's plan to tackle obesity, to the recent launch of Part One of the National Food Strategy.
So what does all this mean for the UK's food future?
Sheila Dillon is joined by industry experts, to discuss how our food system could and should change in future, and answer questions from listeners and special guests about what those changes might mean and involve.
The panellists are Helen Munday, chief scientific officer for the Food and Drink Federation and President of the Institute of Food Science and Technology; Dee Woods, a food educator, co-founder of Granville Community Kitchen and member of the Food Ethics Council; and Chris Elliott, Professor of food safety at Queen's University Belfast and founder of the Institute for Global Food Security.
Sheila also speaks to Henry Dimbleby, author of the National Food Strategy, about the first instalment.
Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Lucy Taylor.
Food and the legacy of slavery
Jaega Wise and Dan Saladino investigate the hidden story of slavery in our food. Between the 17th century and into the 19th, twelve million enslaved Africans were transported to the Caribbean and into the rest of the Americas. Their work transformed industries, including tobacco and cotton, but it was their agricultural labour that made the biggest impact on the world. The modern food system as we know it would not exist without the centuries of the brutal slavery put in place by European powers. The food we eat today, our palates and even the shapes of our bodies, are all a part of the legacy of slavery. And the biggest commodity of all was sugar.
Jaega and Dan tell this story with the help of James Walvin, a writer and academic who has spent fifty years researching the role of slavery in making the modern world. Walvin argues that we still haven't acknowledged this fact, and to move forward we will need to come to terms with this history. The most tangible part of lives is in what we eat and drink; tea, coffee, chocolate, all were ingredients made possible with slavery and all were bitter products made palatable with the sugar of slavery.
Dan also speaks to Michael Twitty, author of the Cooking Gene, and as an African-American cook, someone who has recreated the lives of enslaved people working in kitchens on plantations.
Produced by Dan Saladino.
Photo by Johnathan M. Lewis