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Features // Blog

Eat Well, Feel Well with Foodie Book Club

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by

Dani R

Mar 29, 2021
7 minutes to read

Foodie Book Club is a virtual network that was set up to help people combat the isolation and anxiety of the pandemic, and it’s going from strength to strength

Lee Majhen-Todd started her nationwide initiative, Foodie Book Club, by accident during the first lockdown. An ex-counsellor turned recipe developer, she was talking to a former client when they admitted to feeling increased levels of anxiety. Lee suggested starting a book club.

“It just snowballed from there,” she explains.

A year later, Foodie Book Club has thousands of followers on social media, and has helped form new book clubs across the UK.

Each month, Lee posts a foodie fiction book recommendation, alongside a recipe contributed by a chef. April’s read is The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, with a recipe provided by Mark Reid. People get together virtually during the last week of every month to discuss the book, and cook the recipe.

“One woman had just moved into a new apartment block before the first lockdown, and didn’t know anybody,” Lee explains. “She plucked up the courage to ask her neighbours if they were interested in joining the book club. They can take part sitting on their respective balconies, eating different meals.”

Individual book clubs can connect with each other virtually on Twitter every Wednesday, between 6-7pm (GMT) by following @book_foodie and using the hashtag #foodiebookclubhour. During this time Lee asks questions related to cooking and books, to help stimulate conversation. This is a great opportunity for those who might not feel comfortable in a book club (due to social anxiety issues, for example) to get involved.

From strength to strength

The response to Foodie Book Club has been overwhelmingly positive.

“As a third-year English student, I’ve found Foodie Book Club not only gets me thinking about my discipline in new and imaginative ways, but allows me to connect with wonderful people I would never otherwise have met,” says Chloe Turner. “The sense of community, and willingness to help one another, is invaluable, especially at a time when contact with other people is severely limited.”

“I’ve had so much fun doing foodie book club in lockdown - our group met virtually, and although we didn’t really talk about books, the food we all cooked was so fun to chat about!” exclaims Rose.

Lee’s next step is a series of Facebook live events, ‘Lockdown Lunches’, where chefs put on live cooking demonstrations to inspire people to be creative in their home kitchens. Chef Kenny Atkinson – who runs Michelin-starred House of Tides and has appeared on Great British Menu – will be participating in a ‘Lockdown Lunches’ event on Good Friday.

“I’m asked a lot to jump into “good causes” and if I had more time I’d help them all , but when I was asked to be a part of Foodie Book Club , who support the food and drink industry and help people connect and feel supported during lockdown, it was a no brainer,” he says.

The need for support

So far, Lee has been doing the majority of the work for Foodie Book Club herself, with some help from marketing agency Peachy Digital. It now takes up more time than her paid commissions, but she has no intention of stopping.

“People should have more access to free resources that help improve their mental and emotional health,” she says.

“Even though the lockdown might be easing up, lots of people are feeling anxiety about life returning to ‘normal’. They need a supportive space to be able to return to.”

Lee’s goal is to find a “famous face” to support the Foodie Book Club, in order to take it to the next level. As far as she’s concerned, the more people who come together and cook for wellbeing, the better.

Find out more about Foodie Book Club

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