I’ve been a foodie as long as I can remember.
You know the old cliché about children – they never eat their vegetables, never like to try anything new, etc. That wasn’t the case with me. I tried everything. I didn’t like everything – but I loved trying new tastes.
By my 20’s, I’d seen the classic movies where a connoisseur, blindfolded, takes a sip of wine and is able to identify the wine, the vineyard it came from, and the year it was laid down. Although I was impressed by those abilities, that’s more skill than I ever wanted to have. It was enough to know what temperature to serve a red or white wine, and what wine went best with what meal!
It was the food that called to me then and appeals to me now. When I achieved my ambition of financial independence a few years ago, I decided it was time to start working on my dreams – traveling the world sampling cultures and cuisines and sharing my experiences with my readers.
The days of writing for print magazines were fading – everything is digital now. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still the cachet of having an article appear in a print magazine, like Bon Appetit or Food & Wine – but most people today access their information from blogs, digital versions of those magazines, and even social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
So, if you have the ambition and desire to be a food critic, here’s a step-by-step guide of how to do it:
You don’t necessarily need to know how to prepare dishes from every cuisine – Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, French, German and so on – but it certainly helps! Can you distinguish the various herbs, spices and other ingredients used in each dish? That helps too.
If you can’t, you’ll have to educate yourself. Find cookbooks in used bookstores and stock up on them, and compare the recipes in each book. Make a list of all the ingredients, and if you don’t recognize the taste of any of them, seek them out.
Are you going to be a straightforward reviewer? “I went to this restaurant and had this food, which was prepared in this way.”
Or are you going to include humor, personality, fun?
You can post your reviews on a blog or Facebook. You’ll then want to publicize those reviews on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The more exposure you can get, the better.
Choose a name for your blog (because really, it’s best to have a blog and use Facebook as another publicizing entity) and carry that name and brand – your brand – forward to the rest of your social media accounts.
Until you get at least ten restaurant or chef reviews on your blog, you’re going to have to go into restaurants and lay your own money down for food. That’s all right; it’s an investment.
The quickest and easiest way to add content to your blog is to ask for interviews from local restaurant, café or coffee shop owners, as well as chefs. People with a passion love to talk about it, and will rarely turn you down. Make sure you professionally interview them, of course.
Initially, you’ll be making money by selling ads on your blog. Become an Amazon or Barnes & Noble affiliate, for example.
You could try Google Adsense but so many websites these days have ad-blockers that most of your readers will never see them. Still, it never hurts to try!
Once your blog and social media are well established, start sending out query emails to your local, and national, newspapers and magazines asking if they’d like an article from you. This is how you start getting paid by publications for your writing.
You can do this if your blog is well-established or you’ve got that cachet of a publisher behind you. Call up a restaurant, tell them that you’re writing an article for your blog or this newspaper or that well-known ezine, and ask if they’ll provide a complimentary tasting meal for you. Be sure to point out that your review will be an unbiased one.
If they say ‘Yes,” you’re in! Be professional at the restaurant, write your article, and at the end of it put in your caveat – “This meal was sponsored by the restaurant, but all opinions are those of the author’s.”
Be prepared for it to take a couple of years or more before you achieve “overnight” success. Continue to write, write, write to garner experience in different styles of writing and meeting deadlines, and continue to eat, eat, eat – in moderation – so you can be more and more knowledgeable about the things you love.
Make sure your love and enthusiasm shine through in all your writing, and you’ll develop a following that will in turn recompense you in many ways as a food critic and writer.
About: Rory Brown started his food criticism blog in Charleston, SC. Ten years later, he has expanded his culinary tasting adventures across three continents. Rory Brown has homes in Charleston, SC, Kauai, Sydney, and Lake Como so that he can keep his global audience up to date on the latest healthy culinary trends.
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