May 082012
 

Jane Goldman doesn’t mince words. When I asked Chow.com’s head eater whether food writers can make a living, she suggested finding another profession. Ouch!

At least she has a suggestion: Learn video.

Now the vice president and editor-in-chief of CBS Interactive’s Entertainment and Lifestyle division, Goldman was a writer and editor in the past, including for the Industry Standard, New York, Rolling Stone, and Wired. She has also been a screenwriter and producer.

Goldman founded Chow as a print magazine in 2004. CNET acquired it in 2006, along with Chowhound.com, and turned it into an online site. CBS Interactive Media acquired both in 2008. There are 3,000 to 5,000 recipes on the site.

I spoke with her about the opportunities for food writers at Chow.com and beyond:

Q. What are your responsibilities at Chow?

A. I’m the combination publisher and editor, responsible for the budget. Ad sales people do not report to me but I am obviously implicated in the bottom line. I run the operation, engineers, product people, designers, writers, editors, and recipe developers.

Q. What is Chow doing that’s different from other food websites?

A. Our attitude, the demographic and the reason we exist stay the same: to provide an informal, intelligent, irreverent voice in the world of food. It’s about beautiful food but it’s about having fun.

We’re moving very heavy into video series. We have one I love called Continue reading »

Share Button
Apr 242012
 

Recipe posts are a ton of work. You’ve got to develop and test a recipe, photograph it, write it, upload and edit photos, then write the post. It takes up to 6 hours to complete a post, food bloggers tell me.

Why not take a break from all the cooking and testing? The occasional non-recipe post won’t hurt, and doing so will let you expand the subjects you cover in a new way.

Typically, narrative posts mean advice and recommendations. Here’s how some food bloggers do it:

1. Start a series. Choosing Raw, for example, has an inspirational Green Recovery Series about people who moved to a raw diet. Aida Mollenkamp has several regular columns, including this one called the Monthly Mood Board.

2. Write about an experience. Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef wrote about what kind of gluten-free food she could safely eat in airports and on flights. No recipe needed, and she Continue reading »

Share Button
Apr 102012
 

Twenty years of perfecting recipes. That’s how long America’s Test Kitchen has cooked, baked and obsessed over the results. Based in Brookline, MA, it’s the test kitchen for a PBS television show of the same name, where the staffs of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines work out their recipes.

How does the staff create a recipe that works every time? I asked John “Doc” Willoughby, the company’s executive editor for magazines. The Harvard grad began his career at Cook’s Illustrated when Chris Kimball founded the magazine in 1993. In 2001, he left to become executive editor at Gourmet magazine, then returned to America’s Test Kitchen in 2010. Willoughby, who writes cookbooks with co-author Chris Schlesinger, a chef, has written nine, including the award-winning The Thrill of the Grill.

Lori Galvin, executive editor of America’s Test Kitchen and a reader of this blog, sent me the company’s latest cookbook, Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes of 20 Years of America’s Most Trusted Food Magazine, and suggested I talk with Willoughby about the company’s process of developing and testing recipes:

Q. What do you do as executive editor of America’s Test Kitchen?

A. I’m in charge of the two magazines plus 24 special issues for newsstands. I follow along the process for each magazine, starting with ideas like, “Do readers want another roast beef recipe? If so, which kind?” Then we survey readers before doing an article.

Q. How much do you rely on readers for your content?

A. Once we decide what we want to do, we Continue reading »

Share Button
Feb 282012
 

Food Network fired star Anne Thornton for adapting recipes a little too closely. (Photo: Food Network)

Yes, one of my favorite subjects was in the news again recently: the perils of adapting recipes. Here are two recent developments that affected a cooking show host and a food blogger:

1. Show cancelled because of adapting recipes. The Food Network cancelled the show of TV Chef Anne Thornton because she adapted recipes based on making small tweaks to the recipes of others, apparently.

Media outlets went crazy when the news hit that her show, Dessert First, was not renewed because many of her recipes were “plagiarized” from Martha Stewart and Ina Garten, specifically a German chocolate frosting and lemon bars.

“You take what you learn from them and then you riff on that,”she said in her defense in a story in the UK Daily Mail. “As for lemon squares, there’s only so many ways you can make them, so of course there will be similarities.”

Her comment sounds similar to those I’ve received on this blog. And I don’t necessarily disagree with Continue reading »

Share Button
Feb 142012
 

I do a lot of recipe editing in Microsoft Word, both for individuals and publishers. The number one mistake I find is when ingredients are listed out of order, compared to how they’re used in the method.

Before I learned this tip, I drove myself nuts scrolling up and down in Word to check: Did she put the olive oil first? Scroll up, then scroll down. Does the garlic come before or after the Herbs de Provence? Scroll down, then scroll up.

The "Split" feature in MS-Word lets you see two parts of the same file.

Now I use Word’s Split feature so I can see both the ingredients list and the method on my screen. That way I can check the order of ingredients without scrolling like a maniac.

Here’s all you have to do:

1. Open an MS-Word file that has a recipe in it.

2. Under Window in the Toolbar, select Split. You’ll see two parts of one file Continue reading »

Share Button
Jan 312012
 

Increasingly, recipe writers are finding their own content appearing somewhere else.

Part of the problem is how ridiculously simple it is to lift work verbatim. On the net, just copy and paste. Some online companies write code that does it. In print, just retype a recipe verbatim, and present it as yours.

Here’s what Gwen from Bunky Cooks said in the comments of a previous post here in Will Write for Food:

“I was amazed at the number of people who came up to me after I spoke on a panel on ethics at IFBC in New Orleans last year. They said they had no idea that there were ethics they should be adhering to when writing their blogs.

“Isn’t some of this just common sense? Aren’t we responsible for our words and actions just as you would be in a job or at school? Why do some people think the internet is a place where everything is free and anything is yours just for the taking?”

Good questions. At least she and I got the opportunity to educate. I also spoke on an ethics panel for IFBC last year, and talked for 50 minutes on the subject last weekend at Food Blog South in Birmingham, AL.

Here are some new developments from last week where both individuals and companies are involved:

1. Recipes ripped off as an e-book. Elise Bauer got Amazon to shut down a page where someone in Bangkok scraped the content of Simply Recipes into an e-book and sold it on Kindle. A reader of her site Continue reading »

Share Button
Nov 082011
 

In preparation for a recent recipe writing panel for the International Food Blogger Conference, I decided I wanted to know more about career recipe developers and how they work.

So I spoke and emailed with professional recipe developers who work for retail food manufacturers, growers, commodity boards, and commissions such as the California Walnut Commission. My goal was to get more information about corporate recipe writing, and also to understand what kinds of opportunities exist for food writers.

Here’s the first thing I learned: The culinary experts who get these jobs are not necessarily food writers or cookbook authors. These professionals might have backgrounds in nutrition, or they’re dieticians, or they have a degree in home economics or food science. While they may not have been to culinary school, they are skilled cooks who can write recipes using a variety of techniques and styles. They also might be members of IACP‘s Test Kitchen Professionals Special Section.

When coming up with ideas, these recipe developers Continue reading »

Share Button