Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery Oral History Project

Interview with Tom Jaine



Download recording (30.4 MB)

Download Transcription (42 KB)


Media is loading


Technological University Dublin


Tom Jaine (born 4 June 1943) is a former restaurateur, a food writer and until 2014 the publisher of Prospect Books. He was educated at Kingswood School (1955–1959) and at Balliol College, Oxford where he studied Modern history (1961–1964). He worked as an archivist from 1964 to 1973 and a restaurateur from 1974 to 1984. Tom’s link with food was influenced by his stepfather George Perry-Smith, an avant-garde self- taught chef/proprietor who ran ‘The Hole in the Wall’ restaurant in Bath. In 1980, while running ‘The Carved Angel’ restaurant in Dartmouth with Joyce Molyneux, Tom contacted Alan Davidson by sending him a self-published book he had written called ‘Fish times 30’ and they became friends. From 1984 to 1988, at the behest of Alan and Theodore Zeldin, Tom organised the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, before handing the reins over to Harlan Walker. From 1989 to 1994 Tom was editor of the annual Good Food Guide, taking over from Drew Smith. From 1993 to 2014 he was the proprietor of Prospect Books, a prize-winning publishing company specialising in food and food history, which he had taken over from Alan Davidson. He has been a regular stalwart in the book room of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery for years but reckons that he has never ever attended a single lecture there. In 2000 he took over the running of Petits Propos Culinaires (PPC), the food history journal that Davidson had also founded and which Tom recalls being introduced to its first issue around 1979 by a wine merchant named Robin Yapp. PPC was a huge influence on Tom, encouraging him to start writing about food. Tom has written four books, and has been a steady contributor to the media, both print and radio. He was Glenfiddich Restaurant Writer of the year in 1994, Glenfiddich Food Broadcaster of the year in 2000, and that same year he was also the winner of the top award: Glenfiddich Trophy for the best Wine and Food Writer of the year. In 2018, he was awarded a fellowship of the Dublin Gastronomy Symposium. He is married to Sally and has four daughters.

Publication Date



oral interview, historian, food, publisher, Tom Jaine


Arts and Humanities



Interview with Tom Jaine