The Kitchen Reader: Will Write for Food

January 31, 2011

January’s book for The Kitchen Reader is Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob, selected by Sarah of Simply Cooked.

Jacob is a food writer and also teaches food writing. She explains that she wrote the book in answer to students and clients who asked her to recommend a book about food writing. She didn’t know of any, so she wrote the book! It’s chock-full of how-to advice related to food writing. The book covers topics including restaurant reviewing, recipe writing, cookbook writing, memoir and nonfiction food writing, writing about food in fiction, and getting your book published. Each chapter ends with some writing exercises, which Jacob really wants the readers to do. As I skipped them, I could hear her scolding me. She also recommends books for further reading.

The chapter on recipe writing was my favorite. I have dishes that I’ve made a lot of times, and when someone asks for the recipe, I realize that it needs a rewrite. Jacob discusses recipe development and testing, titles, ingredients, method, and sidebars. She also includes sample questions to give to testers (noting that you might be your own tester). You don’t need to be writing a cookbook to benefit from the information in this chapter.

I requested the book from my local library and started reading it as soon as I picked it up. I wasn’t too far in when I started thinking, hmmmm, this is a little outdated. Then I got to the short paragraph about the web and thought hmmm…this is really outdated! Then I saw the book mentioned here on David Lebovitz’s blog (you’ll have to scroll down a bit).  Ooops, there is a new 2010 edition and I have the 2005 edition. A lot has changed in those five years. Taking a look inside at the table of contents on Amazon, I see that the book has a new chapter titled Get Published with a Food Blog. I missed out on that chapter and the updates were made to the other chapters. Considering that the older version of the book was pretty good, I’m sure that the new version is worth a read. This would be a great book to have as an ongoing reference rather than just having it on loan from the library. Maybe I’d even do the writing exercises if I had my own copy of the book. Maybe.

If you’re interested in learning more about the world of food writing, check out this book and Dianne Jacob’s blog. Check out Sarah’s super-nice blog too!


  1. LOL – oh well, you got the idea from the old edition. I own this book, but the focus on making money out of it didn’t interest me much. She gave some good pointers – but I skipped the exercises too.

  2. Hi Jill, I bought a (2010) copy and loved it. I did some of the writing exercises and it actually took very little time and effort before I felt as though I was making progress. I hope you get a copy. I am not sure I ever want to make money out of my blog, either, but I earnestly thrilled to become a better writer. Thanks for your review and for taking part this month.

  3. Such a coincidence — I happened across this book just yesterday and thought it looked great. Thanks for the great review. I’ll check my library for a copy too!

  4. […] the 2005 edition I unknowingly got from the library! I actually didn’t realize until I read Jill’s post about the book that I was reading an old version, although I had noticed (as she did) that the […]

  5. My library didn’t have any copies, so I bought mine, and now I’m glad! At this point the blogging section wasn’t as useful to me, but the writing information was. I’m glad it was still interesting in the older form, though!

  6. This sounds like an interesting book! I’ll look for the *newer* version at my library.

  7. This book sounds really interesting, thanks for putting it on my radar!

  8. Reading about writing a recipe sounds interesting. I will have to see if my library has this book (the new version).

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