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Food Writer and Editor Job Description, Career as a Food Writer and Editor, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Varies – see below

Average Salary Varies – see below

Job Outlook Good

Basic Job Description

Food writers and editors are writers who specialize in writing reviews and critical essays on specific food, restaurants, bars, and other food related establishments. Many food writers and editors work for magazines, websites or publications and visit restaurants and bars to try new dishes or specific foods to write about. In many cases, food writers are freelance writers who write for various publications but specialize in writing about food. In order to be successful, food writers will not only be good writers, but willing and able to try just about anything at least once. They should also understand culinary traditions and techniques from different countries in order to decipher the authenticity of a dish. Food writers and editors will have a taste for many different types of food and be able to distinguish different flavors and techniques put into a recipe.

Education and Training Requirements

Food writers and editors often have a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. They are skilled writers who, over time, decided they want to specialize in writing about food. If someone knows from the beginning that they want to write about food, they may get their degree in Journalism with a minor or concentration in culinary arts. Food writers who are educated in cooking or culinary arts will have a better understanding of what goes into the preparation of a specific dish, and therefore be able to write about it more efficiently.

Some food writers are chefs or culinary students who are well educated about food and cooking but also enjoy writing about it. Anyone who has good writing skill and knows how to critique or write about food can be a food writer.

Food writers and editors can gain experience by interning at publications that hire writers to write about food. Many local magazines have a food section where someone will visit restaurants and try new dishes to review. This is an excellent opportunity for someone to gain exposure and experience and build their portfolio for future jobs.

Getting the Job

Food writers and editors must be at a professional writing level and know how to critique and review food and restaurants. More publications are moving to the internet, so it’s a good idea for any writer to start a website where they post food reviews and essays to show off their work. Websites are effective because they can be easily viewed by many people and work as a portfolio for writers to display their work.

Food writers often have to get their foot in the door by going out on their own and writing reviews. They can start off by writing reviews on any restaurant they visit or writing about a new dish they created or discovered. With this, writers can either post it on their website as sample work or submit it to publications who look for food articles.

Food writers must also have excellent written and oral communication skills. Many times they will have to interview restaurant owners or chefs to find out information about a particular dish. They will also need to be able to contact restaurants to ask about whether or not they could sample an item off their menu for a published article.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Food writers often start off writing for free in order to build their portfolio and gain exposure. Some may start off working for a publication as an editorial intern where they will have the opportunity to write food articles and reviews. Most writers work as interns during school, and once they graduate, may turn the internship into a paid position.

Many food writers work as freelance writers for several publications at a time. Freelancers take on jobs from several places and increase their exposure and experience by trying new things and visiting new restaurants. Once a food writer is well known in their field, they will often be called upon by restaurants to come in and try a new dish to review it. Food writers and editors who are known by restaurants as well as publications will always have a growing career with new opportunities. Some may even be paid to travel around the country or world to taste new foods and write about culinary traditions in different cultures.

Food writers can also advance and develop their career by starting a publication of their own dedicated to food, whether it be in the form of a magazine, website or even a TV show. The more aggressive, hard working and competitive a writer is, the better they will do. The industry is competitive and in order to succeed a writer must stand out from the rest.

Employment outlook for writers who specialize in food and culinary art is on the rise as healthy eating and health food education is become more popular. More publications look for writers who can educate readers on healthy alternatives to foods and write about restaurants that have healthy meals that are still delicious.

Working Conditions and Environment

Food writers and editors spend most of their time in front of a computer writing and editing their work to prepare it for publishing. When they are not in the office working, food writers are visiting restaurants and bars or trying out new recipes to write about. The average work day for a food writer can be quite interesting and eventful, as they constantly have the opportunity to try a new dish or visit a new restaurant. The downside to this is that writers may eat a dish they were not pleased with, but will still be expected to review it. Writers need to be able to handle clients who are unhappy with a review or who expect an article written about them that is guaranteed to be good.
Food writers often work long or unusual hours in order to finish up a project before deadline or visit everywhere they need to go. Rarely will a writer work a strict 8 hour day and not work evenings or weekends.

Salary and Benefits

Salaries of writers in any field vary greatly. Writers usually start off writing for free in order to gain exposure, and over time gain projects and clients that will pay them for reviews. Food writers can expect to pay for meals and ingredients for recipes once they are first starting their career. Eventually, a writer who has developed a large portfolio and become widely known by chefs or restaurants will be paid to visit a restaurant and try their food. Writers who write for large publications or have their own column on food have the potential to make a very large salary. Freelancers who write for big name clients can also make a significant amount of money writing about food.

Since most food writers and editors are freelance, they are also in charge of purchasing their own health insurance and working vacation and sick time around the needs of their clients. Writers who work for one publication and have their own column or section will often receive these benefits along with a fixed salary.

Many food writers are extremely passionate about both food and writing, so they consider the biggest benefit the fact that they get to visit many new places and get paid to eat their food.

Where to Go for More Information

International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association
1142 South Diamond Bar Blvd., Ste 177
Diamond Bar, CA 91765
(877) 439-8929

The Guild of Food Writers
255 Kent House, Beckenham
Kent BR3 1JQ

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts