Food writers publish work about cooking, and culinary establishments.
Everyone loves to eat, but no one appreciates food like a food writer. These specialty journalists write about their restaurant adventures, much to the delight and envy of hungry readers everywhere. Some food writers focus on certain aspects of the food industry, such as visiting local favorites, patronizing the restaurants of well-known chefs, or trying new specialty food products. There are many food writers who focus on wine, visiting vineyards and wine bars to compare offerings, define notes, and develop food pairings. Some are fast food aficionados, healthy lifestyle devotees, or seekers of exotic treats. No matter a food writer's niche, you can bet they're eating well.
For the most part, food writers are either reviewers or essayists, though there is significant gray area between the two types. Reviews tend to be on the shorter side and focus on rating local establishments based on certain criteria, whereas essays may be longer, more fanciful, and more informative to the reader about a dish's origins or a chef's background. Essayists offer experiential meditations on the role of food in life and culture.
Work in food writing may include...
- Visiting bars, restaurants, and other food and beverage businesses
- Trying new dishes, specials, and recipes
- Learning about different foods
- Distinguishing key ingredients and flavor notes
- Building relationships with chefs, restaurants, and readers
Food writers may write on behalf of magazines, media companies, or newspapers. They are often freelancers who contribute pieces to numerous publications, which can make for an enjoyable, if busy, work life. Literary minded food writers may submit their essays to specialty journals within the food and beverage industry or, in some cases, publish them in literary magazines. Some run independent blogs, websites, or social media pages where they post food content, often photographs of meals accompanied by thoughtful writing. Certain food writers may have partnerships with brands or restaurants that allow them to enjoy dishes in exchange for posting their positive thoughts, which can be mutually beneficial, as it provides exposure for both parties.
The majority of professional food writers are either trained journalists with a passion for food or trained culinary professionals with a passion for writing. Bachelor's degrees are standard, though it's not uncommon to find a food writer whose education had nothing to do with either food or writing. Many food writers are dedicated home cooks or have taken courses in the culinary arts, to the point where they are able to identify certain flavor profiles and describe them to those who may be unfamiliar with the taste. Some food writers actually write about making food, rather than just trying it; these writers are more often than not professional chefs, bakers, or mad kitchen scientists devoted to documenting their culinary adventures.
If you love to eat and have a lot to say about the process, you might get a lot out of a career in food writing.
The Association of Food Journalists is a professional organization dedicated to preserving and perpetuating responsible food journalism across media platforms.
The International Food Wine Travel Writers Association is a global network of storytelling content creators and industry professionals in the food, wine, and hospitality industries.
The Guild of Food Writers is a professional association of food writers and broadcasters in the United Kingdom and a great resource for those curious about the industry.