I’ve fallen in love! With FOOD NEWS JOURNAL.
FOOD NEWS JOURNAL (FNJ) faithfully and cheerfully promises to “bring you the best in food current events: the most intriguing articles, the liveliest essays, and the best from the bloggers.” And it delivers, Monday through Friday, day in, day out. It includes everything I wish to read and know and think about food (and wine) in the news. I only wish I’d thought of it!
Who started this clever online culinary journal? What was the founders’ vision? Did they have a culinary background? Could FOOD NEWS JOURNAL be a full-time FOOD JOB? I asked co-founders, Fran Brennan and Shelly Peppel to say a few words:
FRAN: The two of us have been sharing our love of food and good writing since we met in the south of France seven years ago. We’d thought about blogging together but found there are so many truly talented bloggers out there — trained chefs, gifted writers, exceptional photographers — and so few people even knew about some of these blogs.
We decided our skills might be put to better use in finding them and introducing them to other food-loving readers who, like us, were eager to know who and what was out there. We started there and then added in our love of books, recipes, wine, and slowly, the site started to take shape.
SHELLY: We thought long and hard about the concept and ultimately the execution of the FNJ. We began by looking at other sites we liked, even if they had nothing to do with food. We decided a good starting point was to aggregate: news, blogs, recipes, and books we enjoyed, while hoping these things would appeal to others, too.
FRAN: Neither of us went to culinary school, although we’ve both been interested in food forever (cooking it, eating it, reading about it). Shelly’s background is in publishing and book design, but she also studied cooking and food writing. I’m a journalist by training and have written for The Miami Herald, People magazine, and others. I have also written about food and taken cooking courses.
Both of us considered culinary school at different times in our lives. In fact, Shelly was enrolled in the culinary program at Tante Marie’s in San Francisco but postponed it to launch FOOD NEWS JOURNAL.
While culinary school is not out of the question, we’re currently using our formal training as designer and journalist on FNJ. Our jobs are not unlike chefs’ jobs though — all consuming and all food, all the time.
SHELLY: We knew we could really make a go of FOOD NEWS JOURNAL when outgoing New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni tweeted about our site. We got a huge boost in traffic. Then Culinate.com ran an item about FNJ. Both of these events made us feel there was an audience there that was interested in the same things we were.
As far as the site’s success, we rely on the reviews of our readers. They’ve cited FOOD NEWS JOURNAL‘s clean design, ease of use and navigation, and the variety of stories. We’re also linking to some extraordinary blogs and articles from writers who continually impress us. And when readers respond to a story they wouldn’t otherwise have found, or a blogger we didn’t know about writes to us to introduce their site, we feel lucky indeed.
FRAN: Happily, FOOD NEWS JOURNAL has become more than a full-time job, for both of us. We eat, sleep, drink FNJ. But it’s definitely a labor of love. We’re addicted, really.
SHELLY: If we could give any advice, we would offer: have a clear vision of what your strengths are. Embrace the unique point of view you might offer. When I met writer and cookbook author Paula Wolfert last spring, she told me, “There is no one else who thinks like you do, so no one else can offer your point of view. It doesn’t matter what’s been done before. Just do it your way.” We think we have.
I heartily agree!