The Sophie Coe Prize

The world's best prize for writing on food history

Category: Prize

2021 Winner and Commendees Announced!

The winner of the 2021 Sophie Coe Prize was announced and the Prize awarded at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery today. Competition was fierce this year. We received a record number of entries–85.

We congratulate Carl Ipsen, whose essay “From Cloth Oil to Extra Virgin: Italian Olive Oil Before the Invention of the Mediterranean Diet.” is awarded this year’s Prize of £1,500. Professor Ipsen recorded a short video for us, accepting the (as it turned out–literally!) earth-shattering news.

The judges also wished to acknowledge several other outstanding essays from amongst this year’s submissions.

“’Nothing which hunger will not devour’: Disgust and Sustenance in the Northeastern Borderlands” by Carla Cevasco (Highly Commended). 

“The Pleasures of Eating in Early Modern Britain, c. 1550-1800” by Ella Sbaraini (Highly Commended).

From Kitchen Arabic to Recipes for Good Taste: Nation, Empire and Race in Egyptian Cookbooks” by Anny Gaul (Commended).

“Finding Apūpa: Not forgotten, just hidden in plain sight” by Priya Mani (Honourable Mention).

You can read the full Judges’ Report here, and link to past and present winning papers that we are permitted to share on the Winners’ page here.

Sophie Coe Prize 2021: submission deadline April 23rd

The Sophie Coe Prize is awarded each year to an engaging, original piece of writing that delivers new research and/or new insights into any aspect of food history. We welcome entries of up to 10,000 words on any relevant topic. The Prize is £1,500 for the winning essay, article or book chapter. Authors may submit one entry only each, and they must be delivered to us by this year’s closing date of Friday 23rd April 2021.

Please read the “How to Enter” page before submitting your entry (accessible via the menu option above). We also recommend that you follow the other pages linked from the menu to find out what kind of work has been commended by the Judges in past years, and to find out more about Sophie Coe, in whose honour the Prize was founded and is awarded.

2020 Winner Announced

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2020 Sophie Coe Prize is Susanne Belovari, for her paper, ‘The Viennese Cuisine before Hitler–‘One Cuisine in the use of Two Nations’”. The judges commented on the “the thoroughness, elegance, and originality of Belovari’s analysis of Wiener Küche…” as well as her extensive use of notes “to keep her narrative clean while at the same time sharing the depth and subtlety of her underlying research.” They concluded that “Belovari’s essay, twenty years in the making, emerges from its long gestation as a powerful work of culinary history, an extraordinary example of how the study of food can pose fundamental questions about the workings of the human heart.” We are delighted to award her this year’s prize of £1,500.

There were seventy (70!) essays entered into the competition this year, a record for the Sophie Coe Prize. The judges commented on several other papers from this year’s submissions, and commended them all for different reasons. We heartily congratulate them all.

First, the Judges commented on the general lack of work on the food of the powerless, and called out for particular attention Markéta Slavková’s “Starving Srebrenica and the Recipes for Survival in the Bosnian War (1992-1995)” and Ayfer Erkul’s “Food refusal as a protest tool. Hunger strikes in Belgian prisons during the interwar period.”

Next, they commented on the use of archaeobotany and experimental archaeology to solve basic, previously unsatisfactorily answered, questions of culinary history. Adeline Bats’ ”The Production of Bread in Conical Moulds at the Beginning of the Middle Kingdom. The Contribution of Experimental Archaeology” and Mennat-Allah El Dorry’s “Forbidden, Sprouted, Stewed: An Archaeobotanical and Historical Overview of Fava Beans in Ancient Egypt” were singled out for particular praise on this front.

Finally, there were numerous more traditional essays on culinary history, with the following bringing “valuable insights to their studies” and being a pleasure to read: Rebecca Earle’s “Potatoes and the pursuit of Happiness”; Vicky Hayward’s ““And in the morning the cook… shall go to his kitchen”: Juan Altamiras’ New Art of Cookery, and its Defining Influence on Modern Spanish Cooking”; Fanny Louvier’s “Maid in the Kitchen: Female Domestic Servants and Food Businesses in France, 1900-1939”; Helen Pfeifer’s “The Gulper and the Slurper: a Lexicon of Mistakes to Avoid While Eating with Ottoman Gentlemen”; and Simon Werrett’s “Physics and Fruitcakes: Food Thrift and Experiment in the Early Modern”.

To read the full Judges’ Report, click here. To read the winning and commended works, please visit our Winners’ page, where links are posted as soon as we are able or permitted to do so.

Sophie Coe Prize entries 2020: three weeks to go!

There are three more weeks to go before the 2020 Sophie Coe Prize submission deadline of Friday 24th April 2020 (midnight GMT). Note that due to the exceptional situation we are all in this year, we have waived the requirement for paper copies to be sent through the mail. All other terms of entry remain the same.

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 updated How to Enter page in detail. Do make sure you are aware of and following all of the guidelines closely.

Happy writing. We hope that it is a welcome and pleasurable distraction in these strange times, and we look forward to receiving your entries as soon as you are ready.

Update to 2020 Entry Requirements – Print Copies no Longer Required

In the current extraordinary situation, we have decided to waive our usual requirement for entrants to send paper copies of their Sophie Coe Prize entries through the mail.

All other entry requirements still apply, and the closing date of 24th April 2020 remains the same. All electronic entries must be received by midnight GMT on that day.

As ever, full details, including the email address for submissions, can be found on the How to Enter page.

Please do all stay safe and well.

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.

Sophie Coe Prize 2015 – one week to go!

The 2015 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 1st May 2015.

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!

Sophie Coe Prize 2015 – two weeks left

There are just two weeks left before the closing date for the 2015 Sophie Coe Prize. There is still time to get organised!

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 1st May 2014 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 2015 – one month to go

There’s one more month to go before the 2015 Sophie Coe Prize submissions must all be in: the deadline for receipt of printed copies of entries is 1st May 2015. 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.

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

Sophie Coe Prize 2015

2015 marks two decades of the Sophie Coe Prize! We will be celebrating its 20th birthday in various ways over the course of the year, and especially look forward to being in touch with all our past winners as well as those we are yet to meet.

Meanwhile, we are pleased to announce that the submission deadline for entries for this year’s Sophie Coe Prize in Food History is Friday 1st May 2015. This year there will be a single prize of £1,500.

As usual, the winner will be chosen by our anonymous panel of distinguished judges and awarded to a highly original and informative essay or article that embodies new research or provides new insights into some aspect of food history. Published and unpublished work of up to 10,000 words may be submitted. If the former, it must have been published within the last 12 months of the submission deadline. If the latter, it must be in immediately publishable form.

Entries MUST comply with all of our Guidelines in order to be considered: for full details please read our How to Enter page carefully. You can also take some inspiration from our previous winners.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to apply for this prestigious and generous prize in its 20th anniversary year. You can Follow us (button at the bottom of the page) to receive updates and reminders about submitting your entry as the deadline approaches.