Offbeat careers: Being a ‘Food Writer’ – 6 things you should know!

Offbeat careers: Being a ‘Food Writer’ – 6 things you should know!

2023
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Heard of names like Matt Preston (Masterchef Australia),  Adam Platt ( New York Times), Liza De Guia ( Food Curated) and Vir Sanghvi ( HT Media). Know what they have in common? They are all earning a living off simply tasting extraordinary food.
The latest career option making waves in the market is Food Writing, or being a Food Writer. Let’s take a close look at what this offbeat career has to offer!

1. The Profession’s Overview:

Food writing involves writing about food and restaurants. The easiest and most identifiable form of food writing is found in restaurant reviews. Critics who review the latest restaurant openings, trends, and chefs are an important factor in food writing. Certain restaurant reviewers focus solely on the dishes served, while other food writers branch out to detail ambiance, service, and featured cuisines.

Matt Preston (Masterchef Australia) | Image Courtesy: www.adelaidenow.com.au
Matt Preston (Masterchef Australia) | Image Courtesy: www.adelaidenow.com.au

2. The Qualifications:

There are no formal academic qualifications which are required to perform this job. Anyone can elect to be a freelance writer, although most people choose to specialize in a specific subject area, which in turn demands knowledge and insight into that topic; food writing is no exception. Traditionally, it is an area where a writer’s flair for the written word is allowed to flourish, so a good understanding of creative writing and language expression is essential.

Some writers express the belief that a degree in English, or the required language, or Journalism is a benefit, although this does not guarantee that the writer will have a strong ability in being able to convey an exciting or authoritative written argument.
However, more important than formal qualifications, is a strong and genuine passion for food. Without this, an eloquent expression will not be of much use.

3. Job Requirements:

Delivering clear and consistent appraisal of restaurant standards and food quality, while also having a thorough knowledge of health codes, rules and regulations pertaining to restaurant’s hygiene and standards. A good-understanding of tastes and ingredients, sometimes you might have to guess a missing or an extra ingredient in the dish. Supply original, focused and engaging written copy to newspapers or magazines.

Liza De Guia (Food Curated) | Image Courtesy: www.foodcurated.com
Liza De Guia (Food Curated) | Image Courtesy: www.foodcurated.com

Working for a daily is great, but you might have to pursue this as a freelancer for a while; in that case, manage your own time effectively to secure additional freelance writing jobs. And just sometimes, you might also have to interview industry leaders and venue representatives.

4. Working Conditions:

In spite of the travelling and continual need to sample restaurants spread over a city or even larger geographical area, a majority of the food critic’s work takes place at home. For this reason, it is classed as a low-risk working activity, although candidates should make themselves aware of appropriate health and safety risks involved because of the extended time spent in front of the computer. A combination of deadline demands and the need to travel on several days of the week can lead to a potentially stressful working situation, and it is crucial that the critic can handle stress and time management responsibilities in an effective way. But, mostly you will get to travel and eat cuisines you may not have heard of.

Adam Platt (New York Times) | Image Courtesy: www.grubstreet.com
Adam Platt (New York Times) | Image Courtesy: www.grubstreet.com

5. Experience:

Many food critics will typically start by organizing their own visits to restaurants and events they like, and then creating their own personal portfolio of reviews and features. The critic is then armed with appropriate material for submission to publications. As with most freelance jobs, finding new work becomes easier with each published article, so it starts out as virtually impossible and gets simpler from there. Candidates should be aware that this is a popular and competitive subject area, and so it can be difficult to get a foot in the door. Established food writers can become quite well known, and a hectic first year can be enough to establish a portfolio of regular, paying publishing clients.

6. Employment and Scope:

Most critics begin by looking at well-known “foody” magazines, or any one of a number of supermarket customer magazines. It does not take long for the writer to realise that these publications are inundated with potential feature ideas, and so it pays to spread their wings and look elsewhere. Most fashion and lifestyle magazines and most newspapers also, have a section dedicated to food and beverages, so some legwork is required to find a potential spot. Often, the critic will need to look at publications abroad also, as it creates the possibility of finding new and exciting partnerships.

No matter what, Food Writing is an offbeat but an exciting career option. If it excites you, think about it pursuing it!

Kriti Sharma for DU Beat.

Featured Image Courtesy: www.now-here-this.timeout.com

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