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Diary Of A Wannabe TV Chef: The Food Writer Returns

StuartRebDonald's picture

Originally published February 6, 2008 on Edible TV (edibletv.net).

This is the latest installment in a continuing series that documents my personal quest to become the host of my own cooking show. Since this is a relatively new “career,” there are no vocational programs or community college courses to prepare me for it. From what I have seen, the two most important elements in securing such a position are passion for food and plain old dumb luck. Born with a passion for food, I set out to make my own luck.

The Food Writer Returns

Toiling away for pauper’s wages at a BBQ chain that could best be described as blah is very depressing to someone that is used to working at higher-end restaurants. One day, while devouring the restaurant jobs in the local paper, I find an ad that is advertising three new magazines that are published by the local newspaper. Two of the magazines are lifestyle tomes. On a whim I send an e-mail to the editor letting him know of my past writing (one article for a similar magazine that paid $20). In the e-mail I include a link to my website where he can read some of my articles.

The next day I get an e-mail from him asking for a phone interview. By the time the interview concludes, I am a food and drink writer for Current Magazine and a Food and Travel writer for ‘Zalea Magazine. Each article pays $150. Current is published once a week and ‘Zalea once a month. If I am productive I can really make some cash.

I inform the BBQ joint of my new position and immediately my kitchen manager is nervous. She knows I will not be in her kitchen much longer. Before my first article makes it to print I leave the cooking job. I start picking up tables part-time at a national chain Italian restaurant to help fill in the voids between productive months and so-so months.

My first article is a study of what food defines our community and where to get the best examples. It is well received. I then begin writing articles on themed reviews – best pizza parlors, best late-night eats, etc. I venture away from food just a little by drawing on my contacts in Nashville. I do two interviews with musicians and one with a stand up comic, all of whom have dates upcoming in town.

Things were going well. Both magazine editors are happy with my work and they have even given me a nickname at the office, Big Love, for my ability to get my articles written before deadline with few errors that need editing. All this and I had yet to meet anyone at either magazine in person.

Finally, the day came when I went down to the office to meet folks. It was fun, I got the VIP tour, which included the press room where a giant printing press knocks off 75,000 copies an hour. I got my picture made for my first press pass. I had made it. To a certain degree.

I was now rubbing shoulders with the people I needed to meet to get somewhere in this town. The only thing missing? A cooking show.

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2 Comments

LizzieMarieCuisine's picture
I've enjoyed learning about your culinary journey - thanks so much for sharing. The show will come, you are taking the necessary steps to get you where you need to be. Stuart, have you noticed Lizzie and I are contributing writers to the same blog family (take a peek over at KidsCuisine.net). ;o) Warmly, Doreen
StuartRebDonald's picture
Thanks, Doreen, Is that you in front of LeCordon Bleu? Killer! I have started a collection of T-shirts from culinary schools I never attended. That one is on the list. Ha ha. I'll check out your blog!