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Author and writer Scott Gold looks for good writing, specifically those who have a command of the language. Second, good ...
food writers develop a clear and distinct voice. He shares how despite getting into trouble after criticizing the New Orleans food scene after Hurricane Katrina, Alan Richman remains a great food writer with a distinct voice and vocabulary. Scott Gold is an author and writer based in NYC.
Tags:How to Write Better Stories About Food,erik michielsen,food writer,good writing,hurricane katrina,new orleans food scene,writing about food,writing tips,alan richman,capture your flag,food writing,scott gold
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Erik: What elements do you look for in good food journalism and story?
Scott: First of all, I look for good writing, and you can tell a good food writer by the fact that they don’t use kind of the old trite adjectives and descriptive language about food like they’ll rarely use the adjective delicious. And I’ll fall prey to it every now and again, but one of my favorite food writers was never a chef and he never, you know, talks very preciously about food, and it’s Calvin Trillin; and he talks about food by way of story; and he’s talking about himself, he’s talking about his family; he’s talking about what he loves; and, you know, he was never really part of this whole, you know, I went to culinary school but now I’m a food writer. He writes about food as someone who loves food and, you know, doesn’t necessarily know, you know, yuzu from a mirliton, but, you know, he knows what he likes, and he writes about what he really enjoys, so, obviously, the first thing you’re looking for is just a well-crafted language and a well-told story, and in order to do that it’s actually very difficult because you’re sort of pigeonholed as a food writer because you have to talk about, you know, the dishes in a certain kind of evocative way so that people kind of get a sense of what these things might taste like. In order to do that you have to have a certain vocabulary, but if you have that vocabulary the tendencies to use it, you know, use certain of those words again, and again, and again, and you become redundant, and you, you know, become homogenous with all these other food writers. So the key to a good story, first of all, like Calvin Trillin, or, you know, even, you know, Tony Bourdain, or, you know, other food writers that, you know, I really adore, having a voice, a clear and distinct voice, like in any sort of non-fiction writing or journalistic kind of writing, like having a clear and distinct voice. I always appreciate, you know, someone where you can tell who that person is and, you know, whether or not they’re right or wrong about something. Alan Richman got into a lot of trouble about a story he wrote for GQ about New Orleans. But at the same time…
Erik: How so?
Scott: It was the way in which he criticized New Orleans after Katrina and the food, the food scene in New Orleans after Katrina. It was done in a way that was very poorly thought out and ill conceived, and I’ll leave it at that. Even despite that, I still have to commend Alan Richman for having a distinct voice as a writer, and he’s a good writer. So, you know, having that voice and having that vocabulary but not using it, you know, beating a dish within an inch of its life, and talking about how remarkable and amazing it was, you know, without actually using any descriptive language, I think that’s something that amateur food writers tend to, you know, fall prey to, and amateur food bloggers for that matter.
Capture Your Flag creates a model of success college graduates and early- to mid- career professionals can follow by interviewing up and coming leaders about formative decisions and experiences shaping their careers.