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Building a Culinary Writing Career

How do you launch a culinary career as a food writer? Simply work in a restaurant kitchen for several years, form a rock band with your fellow sous chef, tour the world performing your smash hits, and write a book about the food you ate while on the road. That, at least, is how Franz Ferdinand's lead singer landed a culinary column for London's Guardian and a book deal for Sound Bites: Eating on Tour With Franz Ferdinand.

A Backstage Pass to a Culinary Career

"Sometimes I eat appallingly. Sometimes I eat phenomenally," writes Alex Kapranos. His culinary diary exposes the reader to it all, from fishbrain bread in Finland to blowfish in Osaka, bull's testicles in Buenos Aires to gizzard salad in Paris. Kapranos' culinary career experience as chef, wine steward, and kitchen porter make him a shrewd observer of the restaurant world's lunatic fringe.

Get a Front Row Seat, With a Culinary Degree

You may, of course, find it more effective to begin your career with a culinary degree. Scott Jones, food editor of Southern Living, got his start that way. He calls his formal culinary training "a solid investment," crediting the "faculty, facilities, and alumni networking" for his current career success.

Write What You Know

A culinary arts degree "will give you sound, broad ground from which you can move on," explains food writer Michael Krondl. Through professional training, you can develop the perspective to write credibly about the culinary world; the network to get published; and the culinary techniques to write and test recipes. Many training programs even offer a specialized certificate in Food Writing.

You may still want to form an indie rock band and become the next big thing. But just in case Rolling Stone isn't calling, it's best to pin your hopes for a food writing career on a sound culinary training program.

Sources
  • NPR, "Franz Ferdinand's Frontman on Touring and Eating"
  • CNN, "Franz Ferdinand Lead Singer Eats Way Round World"
  • Southern Living