Cooks and their Books: Exhibition, Curator’s Talk and Lunch in Leeds: Friday 19 January 2018

Date: 19/01/2018
Event Time(s): 11:00

Location: Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT and The Swine That Dines, 58 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN

Number of places left: 6

Price: £15.00 (Members) and £25.00 (non-members)
How to Book: To provisionally reserve a place, please email

Libraries are treasure troves of stories and knowledge. One of the best collections of cookbooks in the country is currently on show in a special exhibition at the Brotherton Gallery in Leeds and Guild members have the chance for a visit and curator’s talk.

Cooks and their Books: Collecting Cookery Books in Leeds explores how recipes have been compiled and collected over seven centuries, and how attitudes to food have changed over this stretch of time.

Amongst many rare treasures, we will encounter a first edition of Beeton’s Book of Household Management, wonderfully illustrated Renaissance texts and Victorian tomes on morality, such as the dire warnings of the ‘Spontaneous Combustion of Drunkards’ in Robert Macnish’s The Anatomy of Drunkenness (Glasgow, 1840).

Photograph of page from Fancy IcesPicture of Mrs Marshall
At the exhibition, cooks past come to life through their stories and recipes. Mrs Beeton may be the best known Victorian ‘brand’ cook but Mrs Marshall (above) was the celebrity chef of the 1880s. Her books, cookery school, demonstrations and weekly paper The Table instructed the booming middle class in fine cookery. She earned the nickname the ‘Queen of Ices’ for her writing on ice cream and other frozen desserts and was granted a patent for a machine that could freeze a pint of ice cream in five minutes. Mrs Marshall’s Fancy Ices, with recipes such as pineapple and rosewater sorbet, still inspires ice-cream aficionados today.
Illustration from Scappi's Opera dell'arte del cucinare
Then there’s Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera dell'arte del cucinare (Venice, 1570), the first-ever illustrated cookbook. This beautifully detailed book was by Italian Renaissance master chef Bartolomeo Scappi, who worked for Pope Pius V in the Vatican at the same time that Michelangelo was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The book gives a glimpse of 16th century tastes and recipes, including pizza toppings such as sugar, pine nuts and rosewater. There are also wonderful illustrations showing the kitchen furniture, utensils and other equipment that would have been used to prepare and serve food in Renaissance Italy, including the first labelled picture of a fork.

We’re delighted that the exhibition’s co-curator, food historian Dr Eileen White (below), will talk to us about such books and the rest of the exhibition and its stories before we go and see the books for ourselves. Dr White is an independent historian and one of the organisers of the Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions. She regularly edits the proceedings of the Symposium, with her books including The English Kitchen and The English Cookery Book.
Photograph of Dr Eileen White
‘Cookbooks aren’t just for cooks,’ says Dr White. ‘They give us an insight into society and major events in history. They are a vital resource for understanding the way that people live.’
The University of Leeds Cookery Collection was established in 1939 when the mayor’s wife, Blanche Legat Leigh, donated her outstanding collection of 1,500 historic volumes and manuscripts. This has been added to by other donations, including the archive of the late food writer and Guild member Michael Bateman. The distinguished and handsome Brotherton Library is much loved by its users, including a number of current Guild members.
Photograph of the Parkinson Building
Parkinson Building

After the exhibition, we are lucky to have the chance to lunch at acclaimed Leeds newcomer The Swine That Dines. Highly recommended by Guild member Jill Turton in The Yorkshire Post and on her review website Squidbeak, it is also included in this round-up of Leeds food on, should you wish to stay and explore more.
Photograph of dishes from the Swine that DinesLogo for the Swine that DinesPhotograph of dishes from the Swine that Dines
Normally a daytime café, this small independent now opens for small plates and BYO by night. Owners Stuart and Jo Myers have kindly agreed to offer their evening menu for a special and well-priced Guild lunch, cooked by Stuart (ex-Leodis and Harvey Nichols). The restaurant is sited on North Street, just beyond the ring road, a booming area for good independents, and a 15 minute walk or a short taxi ride to Leeds Railway Station.

Please let us know as soon as possible if you are able to attend the lunch as numbers are limited, and if you have any dietary requirements.

Cooks and their Books: Collecting Cookery Books in Leeds:

University of Leeds Cookery Collection:

The Swine That Dines: and

Transport links to the University Campus and Parkinson Building;

Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions:

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