The Sophie Coe Prize

The world's best prize for writing on food history

2017 Winner Announced

Mary-Anne Boermans is the winner of this year’s Sophie Coe Prize, for her essay “Life Of Pikelet“. This investigation answers an apparently simple question about English food: what is the difference between a crumpet and a pikelet? and in the process reminds us that in most areas of food history there is no such thing as a simple question. Following these baked goods through centuries and across counties, Boermans essay was praised by the judges for its “originality, thoroughness of research and lucidity of explanation”. She is the worthy winner of this year’s Prize of £1,500.

In a year of 22 entries there were, of course, other strong contenders for the award. Previous winner and many times commendee Anthony Buccini was Highly Commended this year for his essay  “Un vrai jambalaya — ‘a real mess’. The Southern French Origins of Louisiana’s Famous Dish and its Surprising Connexions to ‘Hopping John’“; while Hongyan Yang’s “Cooking in the Hmong Cultural Kitchen” was recognised with an Honorouable Mention.

Full details and, where permissions make it possible, copies of the essays, can be read on our Winners page.

Our thanks to all entrants, and our hearty congratulations to all those singled out by our judges, and in particular, to our winner Mary-Anne Boermans.


One week to go

The 2017 Sophie Coe Prize closes in one week’s time. All entries, submitted in the forms stated in the Guidelines on our  How to Enter page, must reach us by midnight GMT on Friday 5th May 2017.

There is still time to finish your work and get it to us – don’t miss out on the chance to win this year’s Prize.

Good luck!

Two weeks to go

There are two weeks left before the closing date for the 2017 Sophie Coe Prize. You still have time to get your entry in.

Check the Guidelines on the How to Enter page, and make sure you are clear on what you need to do. Remember – we need to receive all entries in the form stated in the Guidelines on or before 5th May 2017 in order for your work to go forward to be judged.

Don’t miss your chance to join what we hope will be another strong field competing for the prize.

Sophie Coe Prize 2017 – one month to go

There’s one more month to go before the 2017 Sophie Coe Prize submissions must all be in: the deadline for receipt of printed copies of entries is 5th May 2017. Whether your submission is almost ready or you’re only just getting started, now would be a good time to make sure you have read the How to Enter page in detail. Do make sure you are aware of and following all of the guidelines closely: our judges take note of all the details.

Happy writing – and we look forward to receiving your entries as soon as you are ready.

Sophie Coe Prize 2017: deadline announced

Entries for the 2017 Sophie Coe Prize must be submitted by the closing date of Friday 5th May 2017. Full details of all entry conditions are available on this website under the ‘How to Enter’ tab.

To receive periodic reminders of the closing date simply follow our website. Good writing!

2016 winner announced

Congratulations to Susanna Forrest, the winner of the 2016 Sophie Coe Prize for “Horsemeat is Certainly Delicious”: Anxiety, Xenophobia and Rationalism at a Nineteenth-Century American Hippophagic Banquet. Forrest’s essay is a chapter in the collection Equine Cultures: Horses, Human Society, and the Discourse of Modernity, 1700–Present, edited by Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld, to be published by the University of Chicago Press.

The judges were unanimous in awarding Forrest the £1,500 prize, which was presented to her at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery on Saturday 9th July. They described her essay as “a really enjoyable and accessible paper, with a compelling analysis of the historical phenomenon of hippophagy (eating horses) and attitudes towards it, well-contextualised and ranging from Neolithic Europe and Asia to 20th century New York”.

The judges also all singled out for special mention Anthony Buccini’s Defining cuisine: communication, culinary grammar and the typology of cuisine, which they said “succeeds in making a serious paper about theory readable and entertaining”. Buccini’s paper is published in the 2015 Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery.

In addition, all the judges commended Robert Dirks’ African Americans and soul foods which they said “overturns current concepts of the diet of late 19th and early 20th century African American communities”. It is published as Chapter 3 in his book Foods of the Gilded Age, What Ordinary Americans Ate (2016)

We thank all entrants to the Prize competition this year, and congratulate our winner, Susanna Forrest, in particular. You can read the judges’ full report, including commentary on other notable entries, here.

One week to go…

There is still a week left to submit entries for the 2016 Sophie Coe Prize – they are due in by 1st May. Make sure you meet all our criteria (see ‘How to Enter’) and if you need some inspiration take a look at our ‘Previous Winners’. We look forward to receiving your entries.

Two weeks to go!

There are two weeks left for you to submit your entries for the 2016 Sophie Coe Prize. Remember, hard copies must arrive in the UK by 1st May, so make sure you check all the requirements on our ‘How to Enter’ page and don’t miss your chance to participate.

Happy writing!

Sophie Coe Prize 2016: entries due by 1st May

Entries for the 2016 Sophie Coe Prize must be submitted by the closing date of Sunday 1st May 2016. Full details of all entry conditions are available on this website under the ‘How to Enter’ tab.

To receive periodic reminders of the closing date simply follow our website.

2015 Winner announced

The Sophie Coe Prize 2015 was awarded (in absentia) at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery on Saturday 4th July to Anya Zilberstein, for her essay ‘Inured to Empire: Wild Rice and Climate Change’. Accepting the prize on her behalf, Trustee Phil Iddison told Symposiasts that although birthday celebrations prevented the Montreal-based historian collecting the prize in person, she was delighted and honoured by this award for her first foray into food history writing. The judges described her essay as a celebration of a ‘marvelous forgotten moment in food history’.

Janet Beizer’s ‘The Emperor’s Plate: Marketing Leftovers in Nineteenth-Century Paris’ and Madeline Shanahan’s ‘“Whipt with a twig rod”: Irish manuscript recipe books as sources for the study of culinary material culture, ca. 1600 to1830’ were highly commended by the judges as being significant contributions to the field; while the judges commended Anthony Buccini’s ‘The Merchants of Genoa and the Diffusion of Southern Italian Pasta Culture in Europe.’

Professor Michael Coe giving his speech at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, 2015. Photograph by Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir

Professor Michael Coe giving his speech at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, 2015. Photograph by Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir.

Ken Albala’s ‘La Cuisinière Canadienne: The Cookbook as Communication’ and Máirtin Mac Con Iomaire’s ‘Gastro-Topography: Exploring Food-Related Placenames in Ireland’ were also singled out by the judges for an honourable mention.

Zilberstein, as well the commended entries and all previous prize winners were heartily congratulated by the founder of the trust, Professor Michael Coe. In a moving speech celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Prize, Coe reminded the audience of Oxford Food Symposiasts about the origins of the Prize, its development over its first twenty years of existence, and the close link between his late wife Sophie Coe, Alan Davidson and the wider Symposium family.

We heartily congratulate all of the commended writers.

To read the winning essays visit the Winners page, where you can also read the full Judges’ Report.