A food writer typically works for a magazine or newspaper, writing reviews of food, wine, and restaurants. The term “food writer” is rarely used to describe someone who writes recipes or cookbooks. In addition to visiting restaurants, most food writers will review a variety of foods; for example, fine chocolate, Champagne, wine, or even olive oil are just a few of the items that a food writer may review. A food writer may also work as a reporter, covering special food events such as festivals or interesting articles about food trends, new wines, or different types of produce, in addition to writing reviews and critiques.
A food critic will typically go to a restaurant and order a variety of items from the menu, then write about each one in terms of preparation, presentation, restaurant environment, taste, and other factors related to the dining and eating experience. Food writers frequently have backgrounds in both the food industry and journalism, and in addition to professional writing classes, may have attended culinary school or completed a cooking program. Culinary school is a fantastic way to meet people in the food and restaurant industry.
A potential food writer will most likely need to work as a freelancer for a while to build up a portfolio of published clips in order to get started. It will be necessary to frequently query editors of magazines and newspapers to determine whether or not they will publish an article; it will be necessary to know the rules of the publishing industry as well as having an excellent background in food. It may be possible to obtain a staff position at a publication after developing a portfolio.
Some food writers succeed maintaining a personal website or blog and writing reviews of various food experiences. Even if the pay is low or non-existent, it is a great way to build a portfolio and gain experience. Food writers must be daring, always willing to try new foods and give them a fair rating. A food critic must also maintain a low profile while dining at a restaurant; this ensures that he or she receives the same treatment as the average customer and is able to rate the establishment appropriately.
There are numerous approaches to becoming a successful food writer. Although becoming a food critic is one of the more common paths, it is not required. Anyone interested in writing about food should try to become an expert in their field and find a specific niche in which to write; this will make them much more marketable.