Explore food culture, history and creativity
An annual gathering to share, explore, and celebrate food research from across the world
Unlike conventional conferences, the Oxford Food Symposium is fiercely independent and open to all, with no academic qualifications required. We meet every year over a July weekend at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford (fondly known as St Catz). A new topic is chosen each year by popular vote, alternating between material and abstract themes. Papers are invited and those selected are presented at the Symposium, before being refined, edited, and published in the Proceedings.
We warmly encourage dialogue between presenters and audience, many of whom share a deep knowledge of food and cookery. New friendships are forged at our famously convivial meals, curated by chefs including Raymond Blanc, Fergus Henderson and Asma Khan. You could easily find yourself breaking bread with keynote speakers such as Harold McGee, Claudia Roden or Simon Schama.
An open, friendly, and liberating community
We welcome delegates from across the world and from all walks of life. Anyone can become a symposiast: all you need is a love of food and a curiosity about where food can lead us. Whether you’d like to give a paper, share your stories, or just mingle among the gastronomic crowd, the Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery is for you.
Paper proposals for 2022 are now invited
Paper-proposers should consider situations where portability is essential, such as for nomadic groups, seasonal migrants, or travellers en route. Examples might include meals prepared with supplies carried or foraged by herdsmen shepherding flocks as part of transhumance or market delivery. Foods transported by (or to) labourers in their respective environments, such as charcoal-burners, woodsmen, migrant agricultural workers, foragers, shore-gatherers, or inshore and deep-sea fishermen. Among subjects that would repay investigation is food carried on pilgrimage or when provisioning an army on the march, whether for a journey to Compostela, or for the armies of Hannibal when crossing the Alps, of the iron-rations provided for contemporary soldiers in remote war-zones. Provisionings for long sea-voyages powered by oar or sail, as well as the special needs of Arctic and Antarctic explorers, astronauts’ space rations, airline meals, all require foods especially suited for portability and durability.
Set your spirit flying
Beyond food and drink
The Symposium is, above all, a celebration of life through food. A meeting of like minds and free spirits, it is a place where scholarship and playfulness mingle, where academia meets spontaneity and convention melts in a delicious orgy of the senses. Beyond the richness of great food, wine, and conversation, it gives space for the mind to open and to let the spirits fly.
Ever expanding discussions
The conversation starts at St Catz, but it doesn’t end there. We share ideas and knowledge throughout the year via our virtual community, whether through our website and blog, our monthly gatherings at the Kitchen Table, or by joining forces to edit our archives, co-edit Wikipedia, or to help build The Sifter, a unique culinary archive begun in the 1960s by Barbara Ketcham Wheaton.
Expand the table
Improve the plate