So you want to be a food writer?
If you're seriously going to pursue a career in food writing (or any type of writing or journalism, for that matter), it won't be easy. Nothing worth doing in life ever is. When I first told my dad, an oral surgeon, that I wanted to be a writer he said: "You'll starve!"
I joke that this is the reason I became a food writer-- so that I would never starve a day in my life!
Joking aside, no one can make you a food writer. You've got to become one. First, you've got to write; second, you've got to know food. Then, like everyone else in this business, you'll need to build your way up to getting your first piece published, and so on. Each step is necessary in order to learn the craft. At least, it's the only way I know to do it. More importantly, as with any job, you need to be passionate about the work--after all, professional food writing is a job.
For the first 15 years of my career, I didn't have a mentor or anyone to show me the ropes. How was I able to do it? By the grace of God and by working hard. What I had was knowledge on which to base my career choice: I knew how to write well, and I knew a lot about food (from catering it, teaching it, reading about it, cooking it, eating it, and learning all I could about it) .
The best advice I ever got was to write about what I knew. I know food intimately, and I have an innate need to share what I know with others. Over a decade ago, I felt like I was at a crossroads. I had just resigned from the newspaper where I wrote a weekly column and I felt stuck. My career felt stale.
I heard about The Symposium for Professional Food Writers, a yearly conference spearheaded by Antonia Allegra (Toni, to those of us who love her). Toni is one of the most beloved and respected professional food/wine writers, and mentors of our time. Under her tutelage, and for more than two decades, a group of renowned food writers, editors, personalities, and writing coaches got together yearly to guide and mentor other writers. Julia Child went there every year she could, sometimes as a mentor and sometimes as an attendee. There, we honed our tools, built a network, and were offered opportunities to pursue our goals. That's were I met my agent; and that's where I found both mentors and colleagues who are friends to this day.
Toni Allegra (right) with my friend and cookbook author (Robin Asbell)
Today, five years after the last Symposium was held at the Greenbrier Hotel, Toni has found a new way to communicate and offer mentorship to food writers:
On September 28, The Symposium of Professional Food Writer, thanks to the generosity of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will be offering a FREE two-part webinar series. Here's your opportunity to join in and experience a portion. This year, I have the great honor of being among the panelists.
Session One, BUILDING A BIGGER TABLE, will be moderated by Toni Tipton-Martin with panelists David Leite, Elissa Altman, and Michael Twitty
Session Two, MAKING FOOD WORK FOR YOU, will be moderated by SPFW Board Chair Andrew Schloss, in conversation with Dianne Jacob, Monice Bhide, and Sandra Gutierrez.
If you'd like to participate in the FREE webinar, Sign Up Here
If your answer is "Yes, I want to be a food writer," I invite you to join us and learn more.
Copyright © Sandra A. Gutierrez, 2016; All Rights Reserved.