Alex Andreou has won the inaugural Jane Grigson Trust Award for The Magic Bayleaf (Chatto & Windus).
Andreou was revealed as the winner at an award ceremony at Quo Vadis restaurant in Soho last night (14th March). The prize, worth £2,000, is for a first-time writer of a book on food which has been commissioned but has not yet been published.
In The Magic Bayleaf, writer, blogger and actor Alex Andreou blended family memoir, travel writing and food writing, incuding commentary on the social, political and economic contexts in Greece, to reveal "the hidden art of real Greek food". The judges called it: "Beautifully written and evocative, with powerful insights into the inescapable role of memory in our eating, this is a remarkably ambitious book which does not disappoint." The book, acquired by editor Parisa Ebrahimi last year, will be published by Chatto & Windus in Autumn 2017.
The two runners-up from the shortlist of three - and the recipients of £100 book tokens - are food historian Annie Gray for her history of nineteenth-century royal kitchens, The Greedy Queen: Eating with Queen Victoria (Profile Books), and freelance food writer and blogger Ed Smith for his celebration of side dishes On the Side (Bloomsbury). Both are due to publish in Spring 2017.
The prize was launched in memory of British food writer Jane Grigson to "support food writing in the widest sense". Seven years before she died, Grigson wrote: “It is this association of food with friends and every aspect of existence that makes me happy to be a food writer. Painting, history, archaeology, architecture, the way the countryside and town worked together in the past, where foods have come from ... all these things make the study of what we eat the least boring of occupations.”
Judging the award were Jane Grigson’s former editor at Penguin, Jill Norman, chair of Oxford Gastronomica, Donald Sloan; Financial Times cookery columnist, Rowley Leigh; and food writer Bee Wilson; chaired by Geraldene Holt.
Holt said: “I am sure that Jane would have been delighted to know that the three shortlisted books for the award set up in her name cover food writing in its widest sense, from recipes to memoir, travel and history. This has made the books highly enjoyable to read but also quite difficult to judge, each book has its particular strengths. But after a careful discussion the judges decided that the inaugural winner of the Jane Grigson Trust Award should be Alex Andreou for The Magic Bayleaf.”