Panel Discussion: Eater Talks - The Importance of Diversity [Special Episode]

This is a special episode featuring a panel discussion on the state of diversity, racism and cultural representation in the food industry. The catalyst for this discussion was a series of incidents that took place in July 2018. Members of London’s South East Asian and food communities criticised a series of racist videos and social media posts from White British chef, Shaun Beagley. After initial requests for them to be taken down were not actioned the content was brought to the attention of one of his employers, Andy Oliver, Chef Proprietor of Som Saa, a successful London restaurant specialising in Thai food. It then became apparent that Andy and other prominent London food personalities were already aware of some of this content and, in some cases, had endorsed it.

What followed was a huge amount of anger, confusion and disappointment at how people who were preparing and profiting from the food of South East Asia could at the same time be so denigrating of the culture and the people. This incident also raised other concerns about how the food and culture of minority groups is used and represented in London and the food industry in general.

Following this, Adam Coghlan, the editor of the Eater London food website hosted a panel discussion on the events and the issues it raised. I was invited to be a member of that panel along with identity theorist Anna Sulan Masing, food and culture writer Jonathan Nunn, and chefs Asma Khan, of Darjeeling Express and Andy Oliver of Som Saa. The event was not recorded on the night but the panel reconvened at my London office for this special episode.

The hope is that these events can be the start of meaningful change and improvement in the treatment and representation of the minority people and cuisines on which so much of the success of the food industry is based. Please join this conversation by adding your thoughts, sharing this podcast and raising these issues when you see them.

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