Speakers, Meals and Events


The trustees are delighted to announce the following keynote speakers for the 2018 Symposium:

Friday evening lecture ‘Saving the past’: Dr. Elinor Bremen will deliver the Jane Grigson Memorial Lecture. As Conservation Partnership Co-ordinator at the Millennium Seed Bank, part of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Dr. Bremen manages seed conservation projects across Europe, the Middle East and Australia, helping to conserve endangered, endemic and useful plants from these regions. Since Kew has long been at the forefront of plant-conservation, we’re delighted Dr. Bremen will be starting the ball rolling.

Saturday plenary ‘Conserving the present’: Dr. Åsmund Asdal, biologist and agronomist, works at the Nordic Genetic Resource Center as co-ordinator of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Dr Asdal facilitates seed deposits in the SGSV from the international community of gene banks and research institutes holding seed collections of plant genetic resources, and is responsible for information and media visits to the Vault. Attention was focussed on the vault’s vulnerability in May last year with the flooding of the entry-tunnel triggered by permafrost-melt, result of unusually high Arctic temperatures. This event, while no disaster ensued, highlights the vulnerability of this precious storecupboard.

Sunday morning plenary ‘Looking to the future’: Dr. Assaf Distelfeld, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology & Ecology of Plants, Tel Aviv University, will explain the meaning of – and aims behind – his groundbreaking work on mapping the wheat genome, a subject that involves us all. The laboratory whose work he oversees is focused on improving the yield and quality of crop plants, especially wheat, through an integrated system-approach that combines physiological, genetic, genomic and transgenic tools with the aim of reducing the gap between phenotype and genotype through a combination of laboratory and field experiments.

Sunday afternoon plenary ‘Summing it up’: all-rounder Dr. Stephen Jones, Director of The Bread Lab at Washington State University, has a PhD in Genetics from the University of California at Davis and teaches graduate courses in advanced classical genetics as well as the history and ethics of genetics. As a field-to-table farmer, his first wheat-crop was grown and harvested on five acres in 1977. Together with his graduate students he breeds wheat and other grains to be grown on small farms in the coastal West, the upper Northeast and other regions of the US. The Bread Lab itself is a combination of think-tank and baking-laboratory where scientists, bakers, chefs, farmers, maltsters, brewers, distillers and millers experiment with improved flavour, nutrition and functionality of regional and obscure wheats, barley and beans.


The trustees are delighted to announce the following chefs for the 2018 Symposium:

Friday dinner: author and chef Olia Hercules prepares an Ukrainain family-style feast based on her own recipes from Mamushka(home-cooking in Ukraine, Olia’s home-territory) with digressions into Kaukasis (home-cooking with relatives and friends in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan). Expect gorgeous grainy things with herb sauces, spicy slow-cooked meats and salt-cured pickles from a brilliant young writer whose groundbreaking cookbooks have opened up a whole new culinary experience.

Saturday lunch: Culinary historian and food-and-travel writer Naomi Duguid (Flatbreads & Flavours, Taste of Persia, Burma) proposes an edible education in seedy flatbreads, pulses, dips and rice-dishes. Anticipate deliciously unfamiliar combinations of spices, herbs, pulses and grains in a communal meal of the kind you might hope to find somewhere along the Silk Road.

Saturday dinner: take your place at St. Catz’ long communal tables for a biblical banquet supervised by Moshe Basson, culinary scholar and chef-patron of Restaurant Eucalyptus in Jerusalem. Born in Iraq – just nine months old when his family arrived in Israel – Chef Basson is a founding father of the international movement Chefs for Peace and as the world authority on Old Testament food-plants his menus in Jerusalem include all seven of the species mentioned in the Bible: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil, date-honey.

Sunday Lunch: Borough Market and Trustee David Matchett will be working with scientist and farmer Abi Aspen Glencross and cook Sadhbh Moore – part of an agricultural collective that runs a roving supper-club, The Sustainable Food Story – to apply nose-to-tail-eating to a menu that follows a single plant-species from root to stalk to blossom to pod and back again to seed. Abi is a farmer/baker/botanical explorer and founder of Future Farm Lab, while Sadhbh is an environmentalist who chefs at The Skip Garden in King’s Cross, London. Both are committed to the no-waste, ecologically-responsible, field-to-table way of eating that – it goes without saying – tastes as good as it looks. Expect surprises.

The Trustees would like to point out that all our lunches and dinners are budgeted to remain within the cost of the college package with no additional costs placed on the price. We are only able to provide our excellent food and drink thanks to the ingenuity of St. Catz chef TIM KELSEY, the participation of our generous sponsors and the donated expertise of our much valued guest-chefs.