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The Food Programme

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London, United Kingdom




From hoof to plate, seed to bottle - Derek Cooper and Sheila Dillon investigate how our food links with larger cultural, social and economic issues.




Chef Stress

Dan Saladino investigates current pressures on chefs and the darker side of the restaurant kitchen. From breakdowns to addictions, is it a profession with more problems than most? Dan hears from a range of chefs who open up about the way their chosen profession has affected their lives, including Mark Hix, Rene Redzepi, Matty Matheson, Paul Cunningham, Shaun Hill and Philip, who works through an agency cooking in the kitchens of pubs, chains and restaurants on our high streets. Giving an...

Duration: 00:28:36

Dishing The Dirt on Clean Eating

Grace Dent discovers what has made Anthony Warner into the Angry Chef and unpicks the role that social media plays in spurring people towards diet plans and 'healthy-eating' regimes Anthony set up a blog last year to vent his fury at what he describes as bad science in his quest to reveal the truth behind so-called 'healthy eating'. He believes we're bombarded by false messages and claims about food. In his quest to find out if Anthony's claims are justified, we meet Helen West, a registered...

Duration: 00:28:10

Patience Gray: A Life Through Food

"Poverty rather than wealth gives the good things of life their true significance. Home-made bread rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with olive oil, shared - with a flask of wine - between working people, can be more convivial than any feast." So writes Patience Gray in the introduction to her 1986 award winning book 'Honey From A Weed: Fasting & Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, The Cyclades and Apulia'. To some, Patience's name evokes a masterpiece, one of the most evocative and imaginative...

Duration: 00:28:14

Summer camping special

Sheila Dillon and The Food Programme team go camping, to discover the possibilities of food and drink in the outdoors. Joining Sheila around a Monmouthshire campfire are BBC 6Music presenter Cerys Matthews, author of 'How to Eat Outside' Genevieve Taylor, forager and wild drinks teacher Andy Hamilton, Matthew De Abaitua - author of 'The Art of Camping: The History and Practice of Sleeping Under the Stars', and Josh Sutton - who has just written a book called 'Outdoor Ovens' and is also known...

Duration: 00:33:24

Greece: Return to the land?

This week, Sheila Dillon is in Greece to speak to farmers and food producers about how they are carving new lives for themselves out of the financial crisis. Greeks have now lived through seven years of austerity after the most catastrophic European financial crisis in modern times. Unemployment is above 23%, higher than anywhere in the EU. Amongst the under 25's the figure is more than 46%. Life is tough in Greece. But food and farming tell a more uplifting story. Employment in food...

Duration: 00:28:19

Sandor Katz and the Art of Fermentation

Sandor Katz has been enchanted by fermentation, the mysterious process by which microbes transform food and drink, for some two decades. Since making his first crock of sauerkraut, his fascination with fermentation has broadened, deepened, and he now travels the world giving workshops. Based in Tennessee, his books including 'Wild Fermentation' and the encyclopaedic 'The Art of Fermentation' have helped many thousands of people to get started with making their own ferments, experimenting...

Duration: 00:27:29

Hunting With The Hadza 2: The Microbiome.

Dan Saladino asks if hunter gatherers, the Hadza tribe, hold the key to our future health. Presented and produced by Dan Saladino.

Duration: 00:28:15

Hunting with the Hadza

Dan Saladino eats with one of the last remaining hunter gatherer tribes, Tanzania's Hadza.

Duration: 00:28:39

Diet and Dementia: An Update

What can I do? That was the question posed to us by Food Programme listener Angie Roberts who cares for her mother Clara. Clara, like 850 thousand others in the UK, has dementia, and meal times were making her anxious. 9 months on from our last edition on food and dementia, Sheila Dillon hears from people living with dementia to see how food figures in their lives. She catches up with dementia entrepreneur James Ashwell, founder of Unforgettable.org and hears how he has made gadgets to make...

Duration: 00:48:16

Alastair Little: A Life through Food

As he prepares to move to Australia, leaving a lasting culinary legacy here in the UK, chef and food writer Alastair Little shares his life in food with Sheila Dillon. Born in Lancashire, from a very early age Alastair Little paid careful attention to the food and flavours around him. On early holidays around Europe with his parents, his eyes (and tastebuds) started to open up to a new world of possibility. After graduating from university, a career in food was far from clear; but 1970s Soho...

Duration: 00:28:23

Women & Beer

Think beer. Think boys with beards? Think again. The last time Sheila Dillon reported on the women in British beer, in 2013, she met Sara Barton head brewer at Brewster's brewery in Lincolnshire. At the time Sara was the only woman head brewer in the country and women were drinking only a tenth of all the beer sold in the UK. Today that figure has nearly tripled, Sara has become the first woman to be named 'Brewer of the Year' by the Guild of Beer Writers, and women all around the UK are...

Duration: 00:28:20

Cult Fiction and Food

From Confederacy of Dunces to Absolute Beginners and On The Road, Dan Saladino explores cult novels to find out how writers Jack Kerouac, Colin MacInnes and John Kenney Toole used food. Authors have always used food and drink in their narratives to help develop plots, bring characters to life and give a sense of place but Dan chooses three novels with in which food and drink plays a very specific role. In Jack Kerouac's On The Road, the "beat life" of the 1940's and 1950's turns out to be...

Duration: 00:39:26


Sheila Dillon takes a journey into the culinary use, history and the latest medical findings about turmeric. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family of plants - and its rhizome, the part mainly used in cooking, has a deep orange-golden colour that marks it out. Responsible for this distinctive hue is the bioactive compound, curcumin. Turmeric - and curcumin - have attracted a lot of attention in recent years, and much has been claimed about medicinal properties. In India,...

Duration: 00:28:25

Mac 'n' Cheese

Sheila Dillon charts the rise of the humble mac'n'cheese: a dish that crosses culture and classes and has established itself as a popular comfort food across the world. We discover the history of the dish. Food historian Polly Russell tells us how a macaroni recipe first appeared in the UK in the 1700s and slowly it became more and more prevalent over the subsequent centuries. We'll hear how macaroni cheese became a staple in the UK: cheap and easy to make its popularity spread. It was also...

Duration: 00:27:59

The Chef Who Vanished - The Story of Jeremiah Tower

At the age of 30, with no formal training, Jeremiah Tower became a chef. His approach to cooking changed the food world for good, then he walked away. Dan Saladino tells the story of the man who many consider to be the first "celebrity chef". The food writer and broadcaster Anthony Bourdain has described Jeremiah Tower as a "dangerous person to know", to others he's the Jay Gatsby figure of the restaurant world. Born in the USA, brought up in Australia and England, his childhood was, on...

Duration: 00:28:23

The Herbal World of Jekka McVicar

Culinary herb grower Jekka McVicar shares her life through food with Sheila Dillon. Taking a walk through the small herb farm where Jekka grows some 600 varieties of herb (300 of them culinary), Sheila discovers a world of ancient knowledge, vivid flavours, and taste possibilities. Having worked closely with chefs from Jamie Oliver to Raymond Blanc, and played with her band Marsupilami at the first ever Glastonbury Festival (and being paid in milk), Jekka is also inspiring a new generation...

Duration: 00:28:21

Out Like a Lamb

Lamb. Long a staple of the UK dinner table. But one glance at the statistics and it's obvious that 'Generation Y' aren't inspired. Estimates suggest under 30s are buying just 15g of lamb a week. That's just over 10 lamb chops in a year and less than half the UK average. In this programme Sheila Dillon asks young butchers, food entrepreneurs and a 3rd generation sheep farmer in his thirties whether there's any saving shepherd's pie, lamb shanks and Irish stew. She gets a lesson in Iranian...

Duration: 00:28:06

The Potato

Sheila Dillon digs up the remarkable story of how potatoes changed the world, offer a whole spectrum of flavour, and might shape our food future. With Sheila are cook and food writer Anna Jones, Charles C. Mann - author of '1493 - How Europe's Discovery of the Americas Revolutionized Trade, Ecology and Life on Earth', and the potato revolutionary and agronomist Alan Wilson. Presenter: Sheila Dillon Producer: Rich Ward.

Duration: 00:28:19

Food Stories from Venezuela Part 2: Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe

Dan Saladino meets a woman who believes Venezuela's escape from crisis rests on chocolate. Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe is on a mission to reclaim her country's former cacao bean glory.

Duration: 00:28:10

Food Stories from Venezuela: Eating in a Failed State.

Venezuela is seeing its worst economic crisis in living memory. As some of the most basic ingredients become unavailable or unaffordable Dan Saladino tells the food story.

Duration: 00:28:09

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