Part 8: The Food Writer Returns

This is the latest installment in a continuing series that documents my personal quest to become the host of my own cooking show. Since this is a relatively new “career,” there are no vocational programs or community college courses to prepare me for it. From what I have seen, the two most important elements in securing such a position are passion for food and plain old dumb luck. Born with a passion for food, I set out to make my own luck.

The Food Writer Returns

Toiling away for pauper’s wages at a BBQ chain that could best be described as blah is very depressing to someone that is used to working at higher-end restaurants. One day, while devouring the restaurant jobs in the local paper, I find an ad that is advertising three new magazines that are published by the local newspaper. Two of the magazines are lifestyle tomes. On a whim I send an e-mail to the editor letting him know of my past writing (one article for a similar magazine that paid $20). In the e-mail I include a link to my website where he can read some of my articles.

food writerThe next day I get an e-mail from him asking for a phone interview. By the time the interview concludes, I am a food and drink writer for Current Magazine and a Food and Travel writer for ‘Zalea Magazine. Each article pays $150. Current is published once a week and ‘Zalea once a month. If I am productive I can really make some cash.

I inform the BBQ joint of my new position and immediately my kitchen manager is nervous. She knows I will not be in her kitchen much longer. Before my first article makes it to print I leave the cooking job. I start picking up tables part-time at a national chain Italian restaurant to help fill in the voids between productive months and so-so months.

My first article is a study of what food defines our community and where to get the best examples. It is well received. I then begin writing articles on themed reviews – best pizza parlors, best late-night eats, etc. I venture away from food just a little by drawing on my contacts in Nashville. I do two interviews with musicians and one with a stand up comic, all of whom have dates upcoming in town.

Things were going well. Both magazine editors are happy with my work and they have even given me a nickname at the office, Big Love, for my ability to get my articles written before deadline with few errors that need editing. All this and I had yet to meet anyone at either magazine in person.

Finally, the day came when I went down to the office to meet folks. It was fun, I got the VIP tour, which included the press room where a giant printing press knocks off 75,000 copies an hour. I got my picture made for my first press pass. I had made it. To a certain degree.

I was now rubbing shoulders with the people I needed to meet to get somewhere in this town. The only thing missing? A cooking show.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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