For those with a passion for the culinary arts and writing, an excellent profession is food criticism. To be able to enter the sector, you must develop your resume over time, making individual reviews until this can be a full-time job. You can gain an important experience by familiarizing yourself with the leading food critics and immersing yourself fully in the food industry. After you start working as a food critic, you can network with other food critics and do solid, ethical work to further your profession.
Method 1 of 3: Get an Education
Step 1. Finish high school
In some cases, food critics enter the profession through entry-level jobs in the food industry, but you'll have a greater number of opportunities when applying for jobs if you have a college degree. If you live in the US and did not graduate from high school, you must finish your GED first.
As an alternative if you're not interested in finishing high school or college, training in culinary arts may help you understand the inner world of the food industry
Step 2. Get a degree in Language Arts, Communications or Journalism
For the most part (about 70%), food critics have undergraduate degrees. Food writing is a competitive field, so you should plan to earn a degree with which you can gain strong communication, writing, and critical thinking skills. You will take courses that will prepare you for your future job and help you network with other writers.
You can familiarize yourself with different dishes and cooking terms by taking culinary classes. If you attend an institution that offers Culinary Arts as a secondary subject, you could also take it as a way to reinforce your resume
Step 3. Write for your college's print or online publication
Even if your university does not have a food review section, you can gain valuable experience by working in the media at this institution. If you get article clippings and work in the newspaper industry, you can earn valuable internships or entry-level positions later.
Check with your college publication to see if you can write a column on food or local restaurant reviews
Step 4. Take an internship
Find an internship with a food critic, if possible. In this way, you can gain relevant experience and start developing your portfolio together with a mentor who can advise you. If you can't get a culinary position, writing internships unrelated to food may also help you gain experience with writing.
Approach the internship as if it were a real job. You may find that what you do in the internship does not compare with what the professionals do. However, you will have an impact on the organization you work for
Method 2 of 3: Build Experience
Step 1. Apply for entry-level writing positions
Your first writing job may not be in the food industry. Maybe you work writing lifestyle articles for your city newspaper or generating content marketing for a certain company. Consider this position as a stepping stone that will allow you to continue to have a job as you develop your career as a food critic.
Step 2. Get acquainted with other food critics
Study those who are already established critics so you can learn what writing techniques work and how you can develop your own career. Read what critics write about a variety of dishes so that you can become more familiar with the world of food criticism. Here are some contemporary critics you could start with:
- Gael greene
- Sam sifton
- Michael bauer
- Jeffrey Steingarten
- Corby kummer
Step 3. Expand your culinary palate
Food critics need to be familiar with dishes of all ingredients and origins. If you go to a new restaurant, order something unfamiliar to you, even if you're not sure if you will like it. Analyze the various components of what you eat: how do the flavors work with each other? What techniques did the cook use to create it?
You should not limit yourself to criticizing only a certain type of food. You must try everything, as, after all, not many food critics have found success in the industry by only reviewing chicken nuggets, chocolate ice cream, and other "safe" types of food
Step 4. Start writing your own sample articles
To make a good food review, you need to include much more than just a description of whether or not you liked the dish. When writing your first reviews, look for what critics you admire have written. In a good food review, all elements of the experience are addressed, such as the atmosphere, the service of the staff, the dishes that have stood out in your opinion, and your overall impressions.
- You must be confident and honest when writing. If you are too nice or too critical of a restaurant, this will not be beneficial to the readers. You should also avoid using complicated restaurant jargon, such as "descamochar" or difficult culinary terms.
- It is not considered good form to use the first person ("I"). You should not mention yourself personally but you should focus on the restaurant. It's okay to use the second person ("you") sparingly.
Step 5. Introduce yourself as a critic to food publications
As you gain more experience as a food critic, you may need to gain experience doing reviews before landing a full-time job as a food critic. To do this, start by introducing yourself to different publications. Email them your resume, your cover letter, a short article presentation, and some samples of what you've written. The presentation of the article should be a short paragraph that includes the idea you have for the article and why that publication will be suitable for it.
- Start with local publications (for example, a local magazine in your city). Then, move on to the most prestigious publications as you publish articles.
- Before emailing a publication, you should read its article submission guidelines, which will generally appear on its website. In this way, you will know who you should write to and how to organize what you are going to send.
Step 6. Look for paid positions in a print publication or online
After gaining experience writing reviews for various publications, you can begin applying for full-time positions as a reviewer. You might get a job writing a weekly food column or as a restaurant reviewer for a certain magazine.
- Do not stop working independently in order to reinforce your resume and have greater visibility as a writer.
- In the long run, you may be accepted by enough of your article submissions to work full-time on a freelance basis for various publications. In some cases, writers prefer it to working full time for a single company because it gives them flexibility. You must determine what is the most suitable lifestyle for you.
Method 3 of 3: Increase Your Expertise
Step 1. Join the Association of Food Journalists, if you live in the US
This association preserves good quality and ethical gastronomic writing by establishing professional connections. Members get the benefits of working with other food critics, accessing newsletters and seminars, and attending an annual AFJ conference. If you want to be a member, you must commit to the AFJ guidelines for food critics and pay an annual fee.
Memberships follow a calendar and are available in January of each year
Step 2. Start blogging
By posting reviews on your blog or personal website, you can build a stronger writing platform. Write reviews of restaurants you go to when you're at home or abroad, even if an editor doesn't commission you to write them. You could also gain more popularity by posting other food-related posts, such as what makes a good dish or tips for aspiring critics.
Step 3. Network with other food critics
Collaborate with critics you meet through AFJ (if applicable) or while working on a commissioned review. You can learn from their expertise and give your own advice to new members of the industry. Since the business of food criticism can become competitive, it will be useful to have friends who care about you so that difficult times are more tolerable.
Step 4. Stay "anonymous"
Food critics prefer to keep a low profile so that restaurants won't recognize them or manipulate the regular quality of their dishes or service in a way that suits them. While you don't have to write using a pseudonym, you shouldn't attract more attention than necessary in a restaurant. It is considered unprofessional for you to announce that you are a food critic when dining out.
In some cases, food critics use a pseudonym to write, although this is not necessary
- The salary of a food critic will vary depending on where their reviews are published. If they are published in a national magazine, they could earn a higher salary than critics who work independently and publish local news articles.
- Don't forget that as a food critic, your job is to scrutinize food to help readers know whether or not they will like it. If your impression of a plate is wrong, your work will not be satisfactory to them. Readers don't want you to be too nice or too rude.
- Visit the best known restaurants in your city and also the hidden slums. By immersing yourself fully in the local gourmet culture, you will familiarize yourself with a variety of foods. Post your restaurant reviews on your blog or website to gain experience making reviews.
- It may take time to establish yourself as a food critic. In case you don't want to wait years to be able to work full time in what you like to do, perhaps another profession will suit you better.
- Food criticism is not for the sensitive. You may be smeared by a restaurant, you may receive threatening emails from other foodies, and competition from other critics may be intense. Critics need to develop confidence and rude comments are not taken personally.
- A common misconception among food critics is that restaurants give them dishes courtesy of the house. In fact, while editors may reimburse critics in some cases, most of them pay for the food.