University Explores Issues Surrounding Food in New Event Series, Food for Thought

Highlights include foraging for edibles with “Wildman” Steve Brill on November 4, and a talk by iconic food writer and chef Ruth Reichl on November 9

Ruth Reichl, food writer and chef

The culture, politics, and science of food will be explored during a year-long series of events at William Paterson University in Wayne titledFood for Thought. Events, including talks, theatre and musical performances, panel discussions, workshops, and art exhibits, are designed to supplement University programs in a wide range of disciplines, from chemistry and communication to public health and women’s studies, and explore the many aspects of food in society.  All events are open to the public.

Food for Thought opens on Friday, October 6, 2017 with If You Can Stand the Heat: A History of Women and Food, presented by the Guerilla Girls on Tour. This internationally acclaimed touring, anonymous theatre group will present historical moments in the lives and works of world renowned master chef Julia Child, acclaimed food writer M.F.K. Fisher, and the grand dame of southern cooking Edna Lewis, through skits, songs, dance, improvisation and audience interaction, while also addressing women’s consistent anxiety around food and body image.  The performance will be held at 8 p.m. in Shea Center Admission is $15. 

The Gleaners and I, the documentary by Agnes Varda, will be screened on Tuesday, October 10, at 12.30 p.m in the Cheng Library Auditorium. This award-winning 2000 film focuses on gleaning, the practice of salvaging what is left in farm fields, markets and elsewhere. A discussion will follow. Admission is free.

Michigan State professor Ann Folino White explores the marketable combination of gustatory taste and theatrical stars in a lecture, “Cooking with the Stars: Charity and the Celebrity Cookbook,” on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. in the Cheng Library Auditorium. Folino-White will discuss the proliferation of charitable cookbooks that offer celebrities’ favorite recipes and examine the relationship between these stars and their fans. Admission is free. 

Enjoy traditional Cuban cuisine and learn about how Cuba’s collapsed food system managed to feed its people during “We All Eat: Cuba,” a combination meal and lecture event, on Wednesday, October 25 at 12.30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in University Commons 211. Admission for lunch at 12:30 p.m. is $10 and free for WP students with ID. Tickets for the 7 p.m. dinner are $30 for all attendees.

Are there edibles on the William Paterson University campus? Naturalist “Wildman” Steve Brill, who has led wild food and ecology tours for more than three decades, will lead a group in search of edible and medicinal wild plants during a campus walk on Saturday, November 4, at 1 p.m. Attendees will meet at Shea Center. Admission is $10. Comfortable clothes and walking shoes are recommended.

Ruth Reichl, the bestselling author, food critic and judge on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, will discuss the future and safety of food during a lecture, “Protect What We Eat: How to Fix America’s Great Food Failure,” on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in Shea Center. Reichl, who is a six-time James Beard Award recipient, served as the final editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine for 10 years, and is the author of several critically acclaimed memoirs, including My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life, in 2015. Admission is $25. 

Events will continue during the spring 2018 semester, including a lecture by Jen Chapin, the singer, food activist, and board member of WhyHunger, on February 22, 2018; a Distinguished Lecturer Series lecture by Alice Waters, founder of the farm-to-table movement, on March 2, 2018; and “We All Eat” meal/lecture events focused on the food of Syria on March 21, 2018, and food in the United States on April 18, 2018. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call the Shea Center Box Office at 973.720.2371.