Discover more from Dianne Jacob's Newsletter
We're Not All Restaurant Reviewers
When I tell people I'm in food writing, this is what I get.
Recently I was at a high school reunion (My 50th! And it was a blast!) when someone asked what I do. I said my field is food writing. So she asked what expensive restaurants I had been to, particularly those with Michelin stars.
I tried not to roll my eyes. I don’t know about you, but I have received responses like this ever since I’ve told people I’m a food writer or teach food writing. (Ironically, I started out as the editor of a restaurant magazine in the 1970s and did freelance restaurant reviews for decades. Back then, those jobs were plentiful.)
Why are reviews what people think food writing is all about? You’re probably not a critic. You might not even know any, versus people who write blogs, cookbooks, commercial content or feature articles.
Why do so few people review restaurants now? It is due to the rise of apps like Yelp and Trip Advisor, which depend on crowd-sourced reports. It’s also because of a drop in revenue for newspapers and magazines, where most restaurant reviewing occurred. It could also be due to the rise of fast-casual dining, where people eat out more often and don’t need a professional reviewer to tell them which expensive restaurant to take mom to for her birthday.
When I say “critic,” I’m not talking about writing about restaurants. That’s different. Freelancers might write a round-up ( such as “10 Puerto Rican restaurants to try in Oakland”), a chef profile or a story about a restaurant opening. Critics, however, offer their opinion about the restaurant, its food, and what it’s trying to do.
I asked legendary food writer and editor Ruth Reichl whether restaurant reviewing was dead when I interviewed her for my next newsletter. The answer surprised me! Paid subscribers will receive the interview in their inboxes on October 15. If you would like to read it, where we discuss reviewing and what Ruth thinks about learning and reinvention, just…
So, do people think you’re a restaurant reviewer too? I’d love to know. And if, by chance, you really are a critic, please say so. You’re a rare bird.
Books I’m Discussing
Classes and Consults
Thanks to everyone who signed up for my October 10 Zoom Class, Jumpstart Your Cookbook Proposal. Thanks to you, it sold out two weeks before it starts.
Through a partner, Delicious Experiences
One-hour consult: $250
For years I've had a five-hour minimum for consulting. Now you can book a Zoom consult for just one hour or more. If you want to write a cookbook, get published, or get better freelance assignments, let’s move you forward.
Journalist Jaime Lewis drove to my home to interview me in person about the state of food writing and whether we should be concerned about AI and other threats. Jaime has been a client in the past. I’ve helped her with magazine pitches and book proposals. She has had a long and successful career as a writer, and started doing podcasts.
Also: Are you a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals? If so, you can watch my Zoom talk about AI software language tools and what they mean for food writers. Click on Member Resources and then the Learning Library to find it.
What I'm Reading
Do you know if your published book was pirated and then used to train AI software language learning products? My book, Will Write for Food, was. Put your name in the search to find out. Read this post to learn more. Revealed: The Authors Whose Pirated Books are Powering Generative AI covers that subject as well. (Atlantic magazine; possible paywall.)
It’s time for the big fall cookbooks. See 24 Best Cookbooks for Fall 2023, According to Food & Wine Editors and Contributors, The 16 Best Cookbooks of Fall 2023 from Eater and a massive list from Publishers Weekly.
B. Dylan Hollis is Bananas for Vintage Self-Published Cookbooks. How the TikTok star wrote a bestselling cookbook. (New York Times, unlocked). And then please read How TikTok Is Reshaping the American Cookbook, another New York Times article I have unlocked for you. It contains a depressing message about how much publishers now rely on TikTok stars to sell cookbooks through their gigantic platforms.
Platforms Redux. An agent explains what constitutes a platform, and why you need one before you write your book.
A Detroit Native Is the New Editor-in-Chief of ‘Bon Appétit’. I’m thrilled that this major publisher recognized Jamila’s skills and talents.
Got a book that deserves an award? Nautilus is accepting entries for all kinds of books published between 2020-2023, due to the pandemic.
“Swicy” Is TikTok's New Favorite Flavor (but It's Just Sweet and Spicy). Sorry but I’m feeling grumpy about this new word. Just no.
Everything about food has improved - especially the books. A look at today’s burgeoning Australian cookbook industry.
Proposals for the Oxford Food Symposium open today. Submit yours until the end of the year.
Supermarket AI Gives Horrifying Recipes for Poison Sandwiches and Deadly Chlorine Gas. Why am I not surprised?
Madhur Jaffrey: ‘Cookery might just be as serious as anything I’ve done in my life.’ An interview with the acclaimed cookbook author by Jay Rayner.
News About Clients and Students
I like to brag about food writing accomplishments here. Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Loeffler’s story for Whetstone-Media on salt and love won a first-place award from the Society for Features Journalism. (I worked with her on a book proposal.)
Former student Janice O’Brien self-published this collection of stories called Eating My Way Through Life: Family Stories of Talented Cooks & Tasty Food.
Literary agent Sally Ekus, who specializes in cookbooks, now represents Martin Sorge, winner of the most recent Great American Baking Show. (I worked with him on his cookbook proposal.)
Pat Tanumihardja’s third picture book, The Sugar Plum Bakers, is out. (I worked with her on her first cookbook proposal.)
Punch published Nico Vera’s story about a Peruvian cocktail.
Thanks for Reading
Like this newsletter? Please forward it to a few people or share on social media. It really helps! New subscribers can sign up here. Thank you.
If you enjoyed this post, please click on the little ❤️ below ⬇️.
Editor, Writer and Coach
Disclosures: I am an affiliate of Food Blogger Pro, Amazon and Bookshop.org.