The Food Writers’ Workshop 2019 took place on Sunday April 28, at Littlefield in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Listen to recordings below and on iTunes.
Building a Niche
Chances are that something specific drew you to writing about food in the first place. Maybe it was history or politics, a fascination with wine, or a love of being in the kitchen. Focusing on a specialty can be both personally fulfilling and a boon to your career. In this panel, we’ll talk about how to figure out and market your niche, and when to stray from it.
Joseph Hernandez is Senior Travel Editor at Thrillist. Previously, he’s held positions as Deputy Editor, Food & Dining, for the Chicago Tribune and digital editor at Wine Enthusiast magazine, but his long-winded career includes stints as cookbook assistant to celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson, and a retail manager and bartender for a boutique Brooklyn wine shop and bar. His byline has appeared in Afar.com, Conde Nast Traveler, Tribune Sunday Magazine, and Modern Luxury publications. He holds various certifications in wine, and he’s the happy father to a bashful hedgehog named Hedgewig.
Katherine Clary is an editor, producer, and the author of a forthcoming book on natural wine coming out in 2019. When she's not producing photo and video content for brands, she makes The Wine Zine, a biannual publication about makers, purveyors, and drinkers of natural wine.
Daniela Galarza has been writing about cookbooks, chefs, cooking, and the business of food and restaurants for the past 10 years. Formerly of Eater and Los Angeles magazine, she now writes and consults on food-related projects in New York and Los Angeles. She’s also a trained pastry chef and recipe developer.
Therese Nelson is a chef, writer and founder of Black Culinary History, an organization she founded in 2008 as a way to connect chefs of color to preserve black heritage throughout the African culinary diaspora, to promote and share the work of her colleagues, and to preserve the legacy being constructed by black chefs for this next generation.
Food and Activism
Where does food end and activism begin? How do food and organizing intersect, if at all? Is there a place for activist food writing, and what does it look like? In this panel, we’ll be looking at the ways food brings people together for political purposes, as well as the limits of food as a political tool.
Elazar Sontag is a 21-year-old cookbook author and food writer from Oakland, California. His work, which explores the intersections of food, culture, and queerness, has been published in The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and Bon Appétit, among other publications. In addition to his freelance writing, Elazar works at Serious Eats.
Tia Keenan is a New York City-based writer, cook, cheese specialist, and community organizer. She writes the “Cheese Wisely” column for the Wall Street Journal, and is the author of The Art of the Cheese Plate: Pairings, Recipes, Style, Attitude (Rizzoli, 2016), Chèvre (Short Stack Editions, 2018) and Melt, Stretch, & Sizzle: The Art of Cooking Cheese (Rizzoli, 2018). Keenan currently co-leads NAWS (Neighbors Against White Supremacy), which engages white and non-black People of Color in Queens to challenge anti-black racism and white supremacy in themselves and their communities, and to create intentional, justice-driven collectives engaged in multi-racial struggle for liberation. She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including Ruminate, which supports food systems with a conscience and fosters smarter connections between good people and good food, through the lens of the cheese plate. She lives in Queens with her husband – award-winning sommelier Hristo Zisovski – their son, a dog, and small flock of backyard chickens.
Dayna Evans is a freelance writer who is been published in the New York Times, Eater, Jezebel, New York Magazine, and others, and a founder of Permanent Bake Sale, a grassroots organization that sells homemade bread to raise money for charity.
Casandra Rosario is a pioneer for marginalized voices in the dining scene. She created Food Before Love in 2012 to combat stereotypes that people of color do not care about fine dining, restaurants, or issues surrounding food. She was one of the first bloggers to address the disparity in dining, long before mainstream publications started to address issues of diversity in the food space. She created (and continues to create) a seat at the table and a safe space for us to share our stories and experiences in food & travel, without waiting or asking for permission from mainstream food media.
In addition to her work online, she has created and curated the "Roots and Vines" panel on food issues, all while, demystifying wine education as it relates to the topic. She has also done curated culinary tours and events both nationally and internationally. Now, she’s looking to expand her reach beyond the online space by working on representing black and brown voices on TV.
The Cookbook Process
The process of going from “idea” to “published” is both fairly straightforward--proposal, agent, contract, book--and always shifting. In this discussion we’ll look at how food book publishing works in 2019: the industry, the market, and what makes a proposal (and writer) appealing to agents and editors.
JJ Goode helps great chefs write cookbooks. He's written 20 cookbooks with people like Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions, and Sam Kass, Barack Obama's White House chef and senior policy advisor on nutrition.
Jenn de la Vega is editor-at-large of Put A Egg On It and author of Showdown: Comfort Food, Chili & BBQ. She is currently a caterer in Brooklyn and recently wrapped recipe testing on The Last O.G. cookbook. Jenn has appeared on Guy's Grocery Games and ChefShock with Justin Warner. She is a former resident at TASTE Cooking and Kickstarter.
Rica Allannic, a literary agent with the David Black Agency, represents authors from diverse backgrounds writing cookbooks and narrative nonfiction. A graduate of New York City public schools and Yale University, Rica worked in professional kitchens for five years before joining the editorial team at Scribner (Simon & Schuster). As VP and Executive Editor at Clarkson Potter (Penguin Random House) she acquired and edited books by David Chang, Peter Meehan, Christina Tosi, Mimi Thorisson (now a client), Luke Barr, and Michael Symon.
Jennifer Sit is a cookbook editor and James Beard Award–nominated coauthor. As a Senior Editor at Clarkson Potter, she specializes in food and beverage books, editing titles by authors such as Martha Stewart, Mark Bittman, Bobby Flay, Gina Homolka, Aldo Sohm, Maison Premiere, Mimi Thorisson, Eden Grinshpan, and Rachel Mansfield. Her co-writing credits include Senegal with Pierre Thiam and Bread and Salt Between Us with Mayada Anjari.
Expertise and Appropriation, Guest-Curated by Black Food Folks
In light of recent articles about the dearth of POC voices in food criticism and the need to diversify food media, what are POC food professionals responsibilities in analyzing, discussing, and transmitting cultures not their own? How can we be objective food writers without falling into the same traps as our White counterparts of appropriating and exoticizing culinary cultures that aren’t “our own”? By virtue of our writing, we are considered experts—what kind of implications does this have when we are considered experts on other POC cuisines?
Shanika Hillocks brings her passion for hospitality and experience leading influencer marketing campaigns in the wine & spirits spaces, to the bread & Butter digital team as an Influencer Marketing Manager. A successful freelance journalist, Shanika has covered the philosophies behind a restaurant's cuisine, a beverage director's sales strategy, and regularly profiles luminaries—specifically POC—within food & beverage. Her work has been published in ChefsFeed, SevenFifty Daily, Fathom and Bon Appétit's Healthyish. In addition to writing, Shanika consults on digital marketing strategy for restaurants and brands.
Klancy Miller is the author of Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking For Yourself. She earned her diplôme de pâtisserie from Le Cordon Bleu Paris. She has appeared in The New York Times Food section, on Food Network’s Recipe for Success and the Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Food and Wine, Cherry Bombe, Bon Appétit, and Food 52. Klancy is an advisory board member for Equity at The Table (EATT).
Vonnie Williams is a first-generation Ghanaian-American and food writer. After diving in head-first into the world of food media working for a PR firm, Vonnie was frustrated with the lack of minority representation in the space. She previously co-founded The Black Forks, a collective dedicated to exploring all food and culture through the Black lens, as a response. With The Black Forks, she created a platform where people of color can voice their opinions within the food space, in addition to curating immersive, inclusive events that celebrated the culinary and cultural contributions of the Diaspora. She is now the founder of sincerelyvonnie.com, a food and culture website that serves as an unapologetic and sincere space to talk about her experiences. In addition, her work has been published in Edible Brooklyn and Food & Wine. In her free time, Vonnie loves to cook the easiest dishes from her cookbooks, eat copious amounts of ice cream, and perfect her jollof rice recipe.
Rochelle Oliver is managing editor of IslandAndSpice.com, a magazine that celebrates the modern Caribbean food movement and the chefs who are bringing an innovative perspective to island cuisine. She also contributes to the food section of The New York Times.
Previously, Mrs. Oliver served as a breaking news editor for The New York Times, working on the foreign, metro and national desks.
Before moving to New York City, Mrs. Oliver spent more than a decade covering food and breaking news in Miami. While there, she worked as a restaurant and drinks editor for Tribune and also produced “The World Desk,” a weekly show for The Miami Herald’s foreign desk.