Sommeliers are to a restaurant’s wine what a head chef is to its food. These waiters taste and study thousands of bottles, and the best can even tell you exactly where a wine was grown and when its grapes were harvested, just with a sniff and a slurp.
But to some they can seem part of a stuffy, exclusive and mysterious club. We meet three sommeliers from the USA, Sweden and London who are all trying to change that image and guide even the most clueless of customers through their wine lists.
We hear how much wine they actually drink, how they deal with know-it-all customers and a master sommelier tells us how he passed one of the most difficult exams in the world. Plus, we put all of them to the ultimate blind taste test.
(Picture: Cameron Dewar, Fernando Beteta and Emma Ziemann. Credit: Cameron Dewar, Fernando Beteta, Emma Ziemann, BBC)
Marcus Samuelsson: My life in five dishes
Award-winning chef, restaurateur and writer Marcus Samuelsson describes his extraordinary culinary and personal journey from one of the world's poorest countries to Sweden and then to Harlem, New York.
His life in five dishes takes us from his birthplace in Ethiopia, where his mother died when he was just a few years old, to his adoption by a couple in Sweden. He tells Emily Thomas how his adopted grandmother taught him about homemade locally-sourced food and installed a work ethic in the kitchen that he’s never lost.
His sense of culinary adventure then took him through some of the top restaurants in Europe and on to the US, where he’s now opened a string of restaurants of his own, cooked President Obama’s first White House state dinner, published many books and become a regular feature on TV cooking programmes. He's also rediscovered the foods of his birthplace and tells us about the emotional moment he met the father he'd long assumed was dead.
Marcus reveals how racism was a career obstacle, but that it also contributed to his success, and explains why his focus has changed from cooking for the one per cent, as he puts it, to a more democratic dining scene.
(Picture: Marcus Samuelsson at Red Rooster Shoreditch. Credit: BBC)
Can palm oil be sustainable?
It’s the world’s most consumed vegetable oil, used for everything from frying food to making it last longer – but can palm oil be produced in a way that doesn't wreak enormous environmental and human damage?
In conjunction with another BBC World Service programme, Crowd Science, we visit the Sabah region of Malaysian Borneo, where different groups are working together to change the way palm oil is produced.
Presenter Graihagh Jackson hears about a certification system aimed at raising standards on smallholders, reducing the industry’s impact on biodiversity, and boosting incomes. And she speaks to an organisation fighting for the rights of indigenous communities against land-hungry palm oil companies.
Plus, what can consumers do to affect change in the industry? We hear how it's sometimes difficult to know whether products contain sustainable palm oil or not.
For more on the steps being taken to lessen palm oil's environmental impact listen to Crowd Science: Should I stop eating palm oil?
(Picture: A man harvesting palm oil. Credit Getty/BBC)
Bakers: Earning a crust
Running a bakery is hard work - you’re up all night mixing, kneading, proving and baking, and then when the sun rises you need to actually sell your bread and run the business.
It’s physically demanding too - repetitive strain injuries to hands are not uncommon.
So who’d be willing to put themselves through it? Emily Thomas meets three artisan bakers from different continents to find out what drives them, and why they think most of us have been eating bread all wrong: Islam Sabry, who runs Cairo's Baker, in Egypt; Lee Utsumi, of Lee's Bread, just outside Tokyo, Japan; and Seth Gabrielse, co-owner of Automne Boulangerie in Montreal, Canada.
Plus, what happens to your waistline when you're surrounded by freshly baked bread and pastries all day?
(Picture: Islam Sabry, Seth Gabrielse and Lee Utsumi. Credit: Cairo's Baker, Automne Boulangerie, Lee's Bread, and BBC).
Can you have your plate and eat it?
The food industry has a big problem with packaging, but what if you could simply eat your wrapper or coffee cup instead of throwing it away?
Could packaging made from food ingredients prevent our oceans and landfill sites from being clogged with waste, much of it plastic? Could it still preserve and protect our food from damage or spoiling? And does it taste any good?
Emily Thomas speaks to two companies developing edible products - one producing plates, cups and bowls, the other making a protective coating for fruit -to find out whether edible packaging is really a clever solution to some serious environmental problems, or just a marketing gimmick.
And a food futurologist explains why we're all likely to see more food-based packaging on our supermarket shelves, and how that could change the way we eat and shop.
(Picture: A woman pretending to eat a plate. Credit: Getty/BBC)