André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards 2021

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Ahead of the announcement on 8 March 2022 of the André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards 2020, are delighted to bring you a special feature that includes reviews of all the shortlisted food books along with a selection of recipes from some of the books and an interview with this year’s Food Book Award Assessor, Yemisi Aribisala. To find out more about the awards and keep up with all the latest news head to the website and follow the awards on Twitter @andresimonaward.

The Food Book Shortlist
The Chair and Trustees of the prestigious annual André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards have announced the shortlist for 2021. From food activism to recipes inspired by the Eastern Mediterranean; from South American wine to the vineyards and people of Burgundy: these shortlisted books celebrate the very best of contemporary food and drink writing. The panel was guided by this year’s independent assessors: Yemisi Aribisala, a Nigerian born writer and artist for the food books and Rose Murray Brown MW for the drink books. The award ceremony will be held virtually on Tuesday 8 March 2022. 

Click here to read about the shortlisted and longlisted books.

Read an interview with Food Book Award Assessor Yemisi Aribisala

Yemisi Aribisala on the food books: “The pandemic locked us in, dimmed the lights, broke our embraces and tables of communion, but there was no more magical way to travel the world than through the food books submitted to the André Simon Prize in 2021. From sun filled days in the Mediterranean to elegant offerings from Syria, South Carolina to Iceland. Fairytale fare to forager’s riches, Perfectly invented dessert to delicious homemade frump, this year more than ever through the Baltic, Arabesque and scent of priceless truffles, food’s divinity was powerfully underscored. Food is power and the most potent medicine in the world, a lens that stretches our wisdom and compassion through solemn food banks to loaded tables and lush words written in honour of one of the greatest simple pleasures of man. What would I have done or been if I didn’t have the honour and terror of over 120 books arriving at my door. The André Simon awards is unmatched in discovering the perfect gems in food writing every year. This year won’t be different. Congratulations to the shortlisted books.”

Click here to read the full interview and follow Yemisi on Twitter at @yemisiAA

André Louis Simon was the charismatic leader of the English wine trade for almost the entire first half of the 20th century, and the grand old man of literate connoisseurship for a further 20 years. In 66 years of authorship, he wrote 104 books. In 1972, after his death, the André Simon Memorial Fund was set up
and the awards followed 6 years later.

The André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards were founded in 1978 to honour the charismatic leader of the English wine trade André Louis Simon who wrote 104 books throughout his lifetime. They are the only awards in the UK to exclusively recognise the achievements of food and drink writers. Past winners include Elizabeth David, Michel Roux, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Nigel Slater, Rick Stein, Hugh Johnson and Oz Clarke.

There are two categories for entry: food and drinks. For the winner of each category there is an award of £2,000. In addition, there are awards of £1,500 in honour of John Avery and the Special Commendation Award of £1,500 – both of these are at the discretion of the judges.

The main criteria against which the works are judged are:
• The work shall contain a substantial proportion of original research and not simply be a re-arrangement of existing material.
• Great importance will be attached to the educational value of the work.
• The books chosen are likely to be ones that are pleasurable to read and not just professional textbooks.
• The book should be well produced.

When judging the books, the Trustees have the help and advice of two independent assessors. In 2021 Yemisi Aribisala has kindly agreed to assess the food books and Rose Murray Brown MW is assessing the drink books. Judging will be in the hands of the Trustees. Their decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. The André Simon Food & Drink Book Award Trustees are Nicholas Lander (Chair), Sarah Jane Evans MW, David Gleave MW and Xanthe Clay.

The winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on Tuesday 8 March, an event that’s become an annual celebration of Britain’s best food and drink writing.

This year’s assessor for the food books, Yemisi Aribisala, is best known for her thematic use of food writing to explore Nigerian culture. Her first book, Longthroat Memoirs: Soups Sex & Nigerian Tastebuds won the 2016 John Avery Prize at the André Simon Awards and was shortlisted for the 2018 Art of Eating awards. Her writing has been published worldwide.

Rose Murray Brown will be judging the drink books. Rose is one of 418 Masters of Wine worldwide (151 female) and offers bespoke events, wine courses & escorted wine tours across Scotland & northern England. She also hosts her own tours abroad, when covid restrictions aren’t in place. She worked in Tuscany for several wine estates, then returned to London to train with Sotheby’s International where she worked for 12 years.

Although we won’t be covering the Drink Award, you can discover what books have been shortlisted here.