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Actually, It Does Pay to Be a Food Writer

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The audience and the money are there

avocado toast Jesse Marlow

This post originally appeared in EIC Amanda Kludt’s From the Editor newsletter, a roundup of the most important intel and stories in food and dining each week. Subscribe now.

I initially ignored a piece in the Ringer about the "rise and fall" of food writing a couple of weeks ago, but since I keep seeing it pop up on social media and in my inbox, I want to address it.

The general gist of the piece is: people love food and food writing now more than ever, but writers aren’t making as much money as they used to make because no one is paying for it.

Too bad the thesis is wrong. For a piece nominally about the economics of food writing there is very little by the way of numbers here outside of some freelancers complaining about rates.

You can now find (paid) food writing in the New Yorker, the New York Times (and its magazines), the Wall Street Journal (and its magazine), men’s mags, Extra Crispy, Vice, Lucky Peach (until May, RIP), Bon App, Food & Wine, The Infatuation, and others, not to mention regional and local outfits. All of these publications pay writers. Eater manages to pay dozens of full-time writer/editor salaries, plus a bevy of freelancers, plus the expense accounts of three full-time critics—and there’s still money left over for the general Vox Media coffers, because we have a valuable audience that advertisers pay to advertise to.

I imagine that other media companies are seeing the same growth that we are. It's why Time Inc. launched a second food brand last year. It's why Bon Appetit continues to send Andrew Knowlton and Julia Kramer on the road all year (and why its publisher gets written up in the trades on the regular). It's why Ed Levine was able to sell Serious Eats for millions. It's why the Infatuation exists at all and continues to grow. The audience is there, the money is there.

That's what makes the demise of Lucky Peach even more of a shame for its followers and founders. They could have made it. Corby Kummer and Alan Richman aren’t making the same bank that they used to. Perhaps a new generation of writers (and other storytellers) are getting the microphone.

Katie Cannon/Eater Twin Cities

Opening of the Week: Bellecour

Who is behind it? Gavin Kaysen, the Minnesotan chef who made a name for himself working for Daniel Boulud in New York before returning home to open his smash hit Spoon and Stable.

What is it? Bellecour is a French bistro and bakery, a long-anticipated follow up to Spoon and Stable.

Where is it? Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis.

When did it open? Wednesday, March 15.

Why should I care? When reservations to Bellecour opened earlier this month, people clamored for seats, booking over 1,000 reservations on the first day possible. Multiple phone lines were ringing, and even the chef was attempting to answer every email request that arrived in his inbox. So, people are psyched. Earlier this month, patron saint of Minnesota Andrew Zimmern even did a Facebook Live tour.

viet-cajun dish
A Viet-Cajun dish at Miami’s Phuc Yeah
Giovanny Gutierrez/Eater Miami

On Eater

Off Eater

  • Bon Appetit’s Andy Baraghani on how to celebrate Nowruz, the 13-day Persian celebration of spring and the new year. [BA]
  • Domino’s is thriving after investing in stunts and technology, including GPS pie tracking, delivery bots, and canoe delivery. [Bloomberg]
  • The Atlantic and Perennial Plate have the story of a new restaurant opening on a 300-year-old property in Ireland. It’s one of the only two houses of its kind in Kildare, and the family that owns it needs a new revenue stream. [The Atlantic]
  • The Shamrock Shake! Did you know it once contained lemon-lime sherbert and later was just a vanilla shake with green food coloring? Also the Ronald McDonald House charity came from a fundraising campaign involving the Shamrock Shake and the Philadelphia Eagles. []
  • “In the coldest months, when the ice is thickest, some venture beneath the ice to gather mussels.” ← a photo essay of Inuits in Quebec. [NYT]