Ruth Reichl is among the fortunate few who always land on their feet no matter the adversity. They perpetually live in the best of times. As soon as she finishes her Gourmet cookbook tour, Ms. Reichl will be writing a book about the 10 years she dwelt in the House of Condé Nast. The other hundred plus workers who were just terminated from Gourmet Magazine will be hunting for a new food job in the worst of times.
What options do they have? They can count on little help from the surviving major food magazines. Most rely on their own staff or hire from a group of trusted freelancers. Forget about newspapers; their food pages are also shrinking as they continue to lose the support of advertisers.
A better bet is to create a new regular food column for a special interest magazine that currently doesn’t have one. Every segment of the universe has a magazine devoted to a special interest such as opera, tennis, golf, dancing with the stars or another sport. Incredibly, one of my students just told me that there’s even a new magazine devoted entirely to the topic of ICE. (How many recipes can you come up with for ice cream, iced drinks, flavored icicles or being on ice?)
Recipe writing is a serious business but one that affords its practitioners plenty of opportunities to display their literary skills. Those who excel maintain a following of devoted admirers. Renowned recipe writers don’t need to invent dazzling new dishes. They simply have to strike that exquisite balance between explaining what they have in mind and inspiring the anticipation of pleasure.
Even well-known cookbook authors hire professionals to help them write the recipes for their books. Chefs, cooking teachers and others may find themselves having to write recipes for publication. Doing so takes attention to detail. To achieve success, a recipe must be written with impeccable accuracy and unambiguous clarity.
Recipe testers may be able to find work with a television star or cookware manufacturer whose recipes must be accurately written for online references. There is work to be found with publishers who need writers to translate chef recipes into wording that can be understandable by consumers. And publishers who need to have recipes from other countries translated into English.
There also is a need for recipes for those with diabetes, lactose intolerance and gluten-free food. An endless river of recipes are developed for sugar-free, salt-free, fat-free, cholesterol, vegetarian, vegan and other special diets. Medical insurance companies often provide booklets devoted to these specific needs.
Now is the time to think how to match one’s culinary skills outside the confines of a conventional kitchen setting.
Mind you, these are just a few suggestions to console the many talented Gourmet Magazine exs who now are looking for a job. Your ideas for helping these fellow foodies are always most welcome too.