The humble kitchen table is often the epicentre of the grieving process. It’s where people gather to reflect and remember in the wake of a bereavement. It’s a backdrop for sadness, laughter and night-long conversations about loved ones who’ve died. It’s where chairs remain empty at mealtimes – a poignant reminder of those who are no longer with us.
Food also plays a pivotal role at times crisis and is a key way to connect with each other and with grief. It can help us connect with lost loved ones, through recipes handed down and through the memory of meals shared.
In Grief at the Kitchen Table, we learn from grief experts and writers including Nikesh Shukla, Valentine Warner and Olivia Potts. We dine on their stories, chew the fat of their personal experiences of death and bereavement, and consider how food can be a uniting factor in facing and moving through grief.
Nikesh Shukla is an award-winning novelist, commentator and screenwriter. His novella, The Time Machine, has food and grief at its heart. It documents Ashok’s attempts to cook like his mum in the wake of her death. Nikesh also talks about his new book, Brown Baby.
Valentine Warner is the author of The Consolation of Food (Pavilion, 2019), a collection of stories about life and death, seasoned with 75 chronological recipes. Each recognises the positive energy that foraging or fishing for ingredients can create, considering how cooking itself can soothe the soul and lift our spirits in times of grief.
Olivia Potts wrote A Half Baked Idea (Penguin, 2020) following the death of her mother. On the verge of a high-flying legal career, Olivia quit the bar at the age of 25 to study at Le Cordon Bleu, ultimately writing a memoir described as a ‘tour-de-force on love, grief, hope and cake’.
This event is facilitated by Aine Morris, from the Bristol Food Union, an organisation that has worked tirelessly throughout lockdown to deliver meals safely to keep Bristol’s most vulnerable people well-fed.