The Guardian has started to present masterclasses in various topics and one of the first ones is about food writing. £500 for two days sounds a little steep for me but the description of the contents is well worth an inexpensive visit.
Tom Parker-Bowles leads the course and his credentials include being an award-winning food writer, a Contributing editor to GQ, as well as the author of three books, E is for Eating – An Alphabet of Greed; The Year of Eating Dangerously; and Full English – A Journey Through the British and Their Food.
The course aims to provide a brief history of food writing, as well as practical advice on everything from attracting the eye of the commissioning editor, to restaurant criticism, blogs and self-publishing.
The main parts are as follows and knowledge of these should be an asset to any food writer:
History of food writing – reading and knowing about food is seen as important. The course discusses all the greats apparently, from Apicius and Acton through Glasse and Grigson, via Liebing, Trillin, Davidson, David, Fisher, Meades and Slater.
How not to write about food – there will be an examination of bad reviews filled with cliches and pointless adjectives I presume. This will be useful in finding out which “clichés, words and phrases to avoid at all times”.
Writing the food review – during the course there will be an opportunity to enjoy a specially prepared lunch, write about it and then discuss it.
20 books to trust and love with your life – the students will be told about some favourite books.
Blogging and self-publishing is a session that provides advice about how to get on with practical matters and grander visions of setting up your own magazine. What are the pitfalls? How much cash do you need? And are you mad for even contemplating the idea?
The last parts are about a passion for food and ending with an open discussion “food writing, contacts, and the best places to work.”
Please note that this isn’t just a promotional piece on the Guardian’s masterclass. Instead, I’d like to use the contents as a starting off point for interviewing food reviewers. Based on the above I would ask the following questions:
- Who do you consider to be the greats in the history of food writing?
- Which are your current top five books about food?
- What are some of the worst cliches and pointless adjectives you avoid in your writing?
- Which is your favourite review that you have written?
- What advice do you have about food blogging and / or selling reviews?
- Which has been your favourite place to work?
If you have any suggestions for further questions then please let me know. On my side, I will let you know how I get on and you will hopefully see the results on these pages. If you are a food reviewer and want to send me your replies, then please comment and I will be in touch.