It was a perfect weekend for the Food Book Fair, a three-day series of panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, book signings and meet-and-greets celebrating food and the words, art, ideas and people behind it. In its second year, the Food Book Fair took place in Brooklyn this past weekend, in and around the Wythe Hotel. It drew flocks of food lovers eager to watch, listen to and converse with their peers and with a wide array of experts in the food world.
Veteran authorities and trendy newcomers alike shared their wisdom, insight and work. Professor and author Marion Nestle of Food Politics spoke on a panel called "Food Systems" with Chipotle executive chef, Nate Appleman, and founder of Clean Plates, Jared Koch. Deb Perleman of the popular Smitten Kitchen blog and recently The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook held a cooking demonstration and spoke about her path as a blogger turned author. Bon Appetit Editor-In-Chief Adam Rapoport was signing copies of his new book, The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appetit, and co-founder of the fabulous Food52, Merril Stubbs, spoke about food and technology.
Other panel discussions included "Food and Foraging," with Fredrik Berselius, chef of Aska, and forager and writer Evan Strusinski; "Food and Labor," with Christophe Hille, owner of Northern Spy Food Co. and Saru Jayaraman, author of Behind the Kitchen Door; and "Food and Modern Farming," with Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale Inc., Keith Stewart, author of Storey"s Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables and Herbs for Market, and Ann Marie Gardner, Editor-in-Chief of the new and stunning Modern Farmer.
A "Foodieodiccles" (food + periodicals) zine fest was held Saturday afternoon, where editors and writers from some of the best food publications set up booths to share their work and chat with fans. Bigger names like Lucky Peach and Edible were there, as were smaller -- but no less beautiful or intelligent -- names like Meatpaper and Cereal.
In the digital lives we lead, it's become a rare treat to turn paper pages, dog ear, flip back, and simply read without the near and often tempting distraction of skipping to and scanning something else for a minute. While most, if not all, of the books, magazines and periodicals featured at the book fair have digital arms, it was a pleasure to see that print -- perhaps especially in the realms of food and cooking -- is alive, well and healthy. What's more, it was great to see food lovers and food industry folks eager to commend the growing sustainable food movement, and discuss ways to improve it. In addition to celebrating their art, speakers and audience members were there to tackle difficult issues, from inequality in food access and inefficiency in production to unfair food worker wages.
Three days may have been too short for this year's Food Book Fair, but hopefully audience members wanting more will keep reading, writing, discussing, cooking and working towards fairer and healthier food policies. One thing's for sure: everyone will be eagerly awaiting and excited to see what's in store next year.