Aug 192014

Like the song from my teenage years says, “See you in September,” woo woo woo, when the summer’s through

And why are those guys singing in suits on the beach? 

Now, where was I? Oh yes. I’ll be traveling next month to two conferences, and then a third in October, talking about book proposals, career reinvention, and making your food writing sharper. Here’s what’s coming up:

Association-of-Food-JournalistsSeptember 8-11, 2014
Panelist and Workshop Leader
Association of Food Journalists Annual Conference
The Peabody Hotel
Memphis, TN

For the first time, I’m attending the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) annual conference, where I will appear on a panel September 11 called Continue reading »

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Oct 252013

Food writing students at my Dubai workshop, working on a writing exercise on using the senses.

It’s been an incredible three weeks away, starting with a writing workshop in Dubai. Our group comprised local Dubai food bloggers and three students from South America, Lebanon and Pakistan.

Put on by Food Blogger Connect, the students feasted on Middle-Eastern food and high-end Asian each night of the two-day workshop. The second day featured photography and recipe writing tips by Ellen Silverman and Martha Holmberg.

Our workshop caught the attention of the local Dubai paper, which interviewed me and listed the top bloggers of Dubai, some of whom attended my class. That’s quite an honor.

Food Blogger Connect founder Bethany Kehdy, fresh from her fabulous cookbook signing in Lebanon, coordinated the first-ever Dubai workshop  with her sister Joslin Kehdy. Continue reading »

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Jun 182013

Menu board at Farm Burger in Decateur, GA from a recent trip to Atlanta. Amazingly good burgers. I also tasted my first boiled peanuts — salty and addictive.

It’s almost time for my next email newsletter for food writers, filled with useful links for writers, bloggers, recipe developers, cookbook authors and social media mavens. You fit into one of those categories, right? I thought so.

So you might want to sign up for the Will Write for Food newsletter, if you haven’t already. You’ll get only four emails per year, I promise. Here are 10 terrific links from my earlier newsletter, to whet your appetite for what’s to come:

1. Did you miss the Roger Smith Cookbook Conference in New York earlier this year? Here are videos to watch of selected panels.

2. The FTC Clarifies its Rules for Bloggers: New recommendations on Continue reading »

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Apr 172013

Food writers, bloggers and emerging writers at Canada’s first conference, networking and schmoozing during a break. That’s Alison Fryer on the right, owner of Toronto’s 30-year old bookstore, The Cookbook Store. She moderated many of the sessions with wit and a stopwatch.

Gotta love those Canucks, eh? After years of attending food blogging conferences in the States and elsewhere, they’ve finally created their own.

The first annual conference was held at a gorgeous venue, the Hockley Valley Resort outside Toronto. There were excellent meals, wine, and snacks; tons of enviable giveaways; and most importantly, an outstanding group of Canadian speakers. Topics included writing as a skill and career, best practices for working with brands, and how people became successful as food bloggers, cookbook authors and freelancers.

Food Bloggers of Canada organizers Mardi Michels, Melissa Hartfiel and Ethan Adeland invited me to talk about getting comments on blogs and on how to get published. Speaking of that topic, I heard lots of buzz about this article on the Toronto Star Cookbook, an honest look (including advance numbers) about how hard it was to land a deal and write the book.

I had an additional qualification as a speaker: I’m Canadian, born in Vancouver (I moved to California in my 20s). Don’t get me started about how cool it was to be back in Canada, where people are polite and friendly and Nanaimo bars are on the menu. Plus, I got to stock up on Smarties, because my stash was running out from my trip to Ireland and London last year.

Keynote speaker David Leite tasted his first Nanaimo Bar.

During the sessions and over meals, it was satisfying to hear about the lightbulbs that went off in attendees’ heads as they listened to speakers give background and tips on writing, blogging, and career paths. I caught up with my buddy David Leite, the conference’s keynoter, who charmed the crowd with stories about his writing, for which he has won many national awards in the US. I too learned from talented speakers who were self-deprecating, generous about how they do their craft, and unfailingly nice. I hope to hear more from them on social media. Now, where are those Smarties?

To read more about the conference, see these early posts:


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Sep 222010

One of the winemaker dinners about to begin at the Naramata Heritage Inn and Spa. The conference organizer, Jennifer Cockrall-King, welcomes us at the head of the table.

I’m just back from a few days in the Okanagan wine country of British Columbia, Canada, hanging out with Canadian food and wine writers and bloggers at the second annual Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop.

Most of you are American, so I thought you should know about a food writing workshop in a gorgeous food and wine region of British Columbia, in case you ever need an excuse to visit.

I’m from British Columbia, born in Vancouver, and wanted to get back to the province to see the Okanagan again. As a kid, I remember driving up with my family (about a 4-hour drive inland) to enjoy the the fruit orchards, swimming, and to search for Continue reading »

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Sep 132010

I’ll be in Vancouver, Penticton, San Francisco and Chicago in the next few weeks. Please come by to say hello, or consider attending a conference or event.

  • September 14, 2010
    Book Signing and Talk
    Barbara-Jo’s Books To Cooks
    Vancouver, B.C.
    6 p.m.
    $35 includes a copy of Will Write for Food

    I’ll be interviewed by Nathan Fong, food columnist and TV host for The Vancouver Sun and GlobalTV. 

  • September 16-19, 2010
    Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop
    Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
    $650 (Still a few tickets left!)
    This workshop, held during the grape crush in B.C’s wine country, features part food and wine touring and part professional development for food and wine writers. I’m originally from B.C. and excited to be Continue reading »
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Jun 212010

On the prowl for food with my father, Moses Jacob, with me (on right) and my sister.

On Father’s Day yesterday, I thought about my dad, a food-obsessed poet and songwriter who loved produce more than anyone I’ve known.

It sounds funny to say that he was obsessed with produce. But my dad lived for it. He grew vegetables in our Vancouver back yard, specializing in a Chinese green called celtuce. All summer long he cut down the stalks and sliced them into juicy green batons that floated in a bowl of water in the fridge. While other kids ate Popsicles, I fished out those crisp, green stems for a refreshing treat.

In winter, he pickled turnips with beets and carrots, turning them hot pink in their tall Mason jars. We ate them at dinner with meat stews my mother cooked, brimming with bamboo shoots and peas, cauliflower or lima beans.

For dessert in spring, we ate artichokes, at least one for each of us. My father loved how, when he washed them down with a glass of water, his mouth filled with sweetness. For fall dessert, my mother roasted a pan of  sweet potatoes, cooked until the sugars wept out and caramelized in pools around the sides. They reminded my parents of Shanghai, where they purchased sweet potatoes from street cart vendors.

Even when we gathered around the television at night, my father appeared with a dinner plate piled with crisp wedges of iceburg lettuce in summer; slices of apples and oranges in winter.

When I was around 8 years old, my dad convinced a produce vendor in Chinatown to order a box of mangoes from the Philippines just for him. In the 1960s there were no mangoes in the supermarkets, and he ached for the fruit he remembered from China. Once the mangoes ripened in our basement, my parents covered the dinner table with newspaper, then brought in armfuls of ripe yellow fruit. We ate them with spoons, the sicky juice running down our faces.

My dad’s been dead for 28 years, but I carry on his obsession. He would’ve loved the farmer’s market I visited yesterday, overflowing with beets, peaches, cherries and lettuces. I’m still looking for celtuce, though. The last time I tasted it was in China,  maybe 8 years ago. It was a diamond-shaped green served in a breakfast dish, and when I bit down on it, all the memories of those stalks in the fridge flooded back.

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