The Sophie Coe Prize

The world's best prize for writing on food history

Category: Sophie Coe

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.

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.

2014 Winners Announced

The Sophie Coe Prize 2014 was awarded at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery on Saturday 12th July.

Van Dyk makes his acceptance speech (with Jane Levi and Andrew Coe behind)

With a record-breaking number of entries – 39 – the judges had their work cut out, but were delighted to select a clear winner in Garritt Van Dyk. His essay, ‘Méthode Anglaise: Transnational Exchange and the Origins of Champagne’ impressed them by combining “the twists and turns of a detective story with thorough and deep research to reach a startling conclusion” – that the creation of champagne owed more to British technology than to the legendary Dom Perignon. Garritt Van Dyk is therefore the 2014 winner and was presented with the £1,500 prize by Andrew Coe.

The judges also singled out three further submissions for commendation. Charmaine O’Brien‘s ‘Text For Dinner: Plain food in colonial Australia …or was it?’; Peter Beck’s ‘Tasting a Neighborhood: a Food History of Manhattan’s Lower East Side’; and Anya von Bremzen‘s chapter ‘The Last Days of the Czars’ from Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food, Family and Longing.

We heartily congratulate all four of the commended writers.

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

Sophie Coe Prize 2014 – one week to go!

The 2014 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 9th May 2014.

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 2014 – two weeks left

There are just two weeks left before the closing date for the 2014 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 9th 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 2014 – one month to go

There’s one more month to go before the 2014 Sophie Coe Prize submissions must all be in: the deadline for receipt of entries is 9th May 2014. 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.