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Food for Thought at Ilkley Literature Festival

Columnist and restaurant critic Grace Dent will be at the 2023 ILF

Ilkley Literature Festival is calling all foodies to sink their teeth into juicy conversations at a series of food and drink author events.

Part of its 100-strong event line up across 17 days, from 6 – 22 October, the festival welcomes some of the country’s leading writers on the theme, Food for Thought.

Audiences can delve into the world of cheese, devour stories set around the kitchen table and delight with prosecco at a proof party.

Columnist and restaurant critic Grace Dent offers an hour of hilarious and honest stories about comfort eating. Comfort foods are steeped in nostalgia and topped with a healthy dollop of guilty pleasure. During this event, Dent shares the comfort foods of her famous friends - from Jo Brand to Russell T Davies.

John Murray Press is hosting a Proof Party with prosecco at Ilkley Playhouse. Audiences will receive three debut fiction novels, a tote bag, and glass of prosecco to sip as they listen to the three emerging authors. The three books include: Madeline Doherty’s Gender Theory, Jiaming Tang’s Cinema Love, and Scott Preston’s The Borrowed Hills.

Cheese lovers can sample Emma Young’s The Cheese Wheel. The cheese specialist will teach you how to choose, taste and pair cheese, promising your cheese knowledge will have matured by the end of the night.

The renowned chef and The Sunday Times best-selling author Sabrina Ghayour heads to Ilkley to share recipes from her brand-new cookbook, Flavour. From Spicy Prawn Fritters to Za'atar & Labneh Tartines, enrich your taste buds with tantalising Middle-Eastern recipes to add a little spice to your life.

If you have ever wondered what a day in the life of a farmer's wife is like – as well as a businesswoman, a teacher, a conservationist, a mother, and a cook - Helen Rebanks will regale audiences with tales of life in the Lake District, her love of animals and her deep passion for food, sharing some of the recipes that she cooks for life on a farm.

For fiction lovers, future literary giants, Bryan Washington - winner of the 2020 International Dylan Thomas Prize for Memorial - and C Pam Zhang - author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold, one of Barack Obama’s favourite reads in 2020 - are coming to Ilkley to discuss the complex relationship between food and love in their latest novels.

Washington’s Family Meal is an irresistible, queer tale about the lives of two young men; how sustenance and friendship come from an unlikely source: sitting together at a table sharing a meal. This will be Washington’s first ever in-person UK event.

Zhang’s Land of Milk and Honey is a striking novel about food, sex, and desire. Set in a world wracked by climate change, a chef for the global elite is thrown into the core of an attempt to reshape the world beyond the plate. Acclaimed by The Sunday Times as an “arrestingly original writer.”

Great British Bake Off finalist and chartered psychologist Kimberley Wilson joins the line-up in her author talk, Unprocessed. She’ll explore how nutrition affects our behaviour, emotions, and identities.

University of Leeds academic Karen Throsby draws on journalism, government policy, public health campaigns, self-help books and documentaries to explore the social life, science and politics of sugar in her talk, Sugar Rush.

Launched in 1973 by the poet W.H Auden, the north’s oldest literary festival welcomes a host of poets, novelists, biographers, and journalists to the spa town this autumn.

Headline acts include Clare Balding, Jeanette Winterson, Anton Du Beke, Simon Armitage, Jacqueline Wilson, Gyles Brandreth and Monica Ali.

Further details at or call the Box Office: 01943 816714.


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