CULINTRO A Community for Restaurant Professionals

Food Writer Challenge Winners<br>Featured Issue: October 2009



Editorial Comments

From Patrick O'Neill:

Topic: culinary team-building and how the recession has affected the industry. Building company teamwork and productivity in the workplace by developing camaraderie in the kitchen has become popular in recent years, presenting new opportunities for chefs, restaurants and cooking schools. Has the economic climate affected these businesses? Have many managed to maintain successful operations, seen a huge drop-off in business or simply shut down as companies/clients make cutbacks? Have any of these businesses adapted by altering their marketing strategy? The article will offer views from culinary team businesses about their own prospects, the future of the industry in general and whether they see any signs of economic improvement that will encourage potential clients to utilize their services.

"Interesting topic that could allow our readers (particularly chefs) to explore another avenue for revenue building. Especially as everything culinary is hot right now and businesses are looking for ways to run smarter and smaller. Let’s make sure to explore both the success and approach these businesses are undertaking to stay afloat in this environment and how their model can be used by hospitality folks as well."

From Emily Hedgepeth:

Pitch: As a full time student in the culinary major, it is normal for friends and family to say: " I bet you can't wait to own your own restaurant!" However, I feel quite the opposite. In fact, I hate working in restaurants and never want to own one. The fact is that I love the world of private country clubs. The difference between the two are drastic. In most restaurants, menu consistency is key. Working as a chef at a private club, menus are purposefully always changing. The only thing that remains the same are the club members. Being in a more personable atmosphere makes a chef feel more accomplished and important.

"What appeals here is the deep attention to service that a country club chef must possess. Please look into the training aspect that these folks undergo that perhaps sets them apart from a restaurant chef who has anonymous diners they are feeding. Talk about the difference an attentive chef in a country club can make in a guest/member’s dining experience. And touch upon the importance of keeping costs down so that member fees don’t increase drastically if that is at all relevant."

Runners Up


Editorial Comments

From Michelle Mettler:

Pitch: My desire is to profile and interview line cooks. Hard working, determined, young, ambitious chefs who take large pay cuts, little vacation time and a mixture of physical and mental anguish to work in small, confined, blistering hot kitchens in hopes of one day running there own operations (or so I imagine.) They do this to work their way up, gain experience and earn their keep in the demanding, cover crazy, ever busy restaurant industry. I want to interview them at there self proclaimed “happy hour” after midnight at whatever local watering hole is near the restaurant where they work.

This is an interesting topic (not to mention a fun one to research). Yet what it is missing for Food & Beverage Magazine is a strong business angle. To make it work for the magazine your pitch should include the answers to some of these questions: Why should we be interviewing/profiling these folks? What are we going to glean from it? What will you be asking? How can these profiles benefit the restaurateurs who are employing these line cooks? For example : Will reading this story make management better able to relate to their line cooks and understand what makes the cook tick and therefore the manager can better manage the cook? Are these line cooks gathering in local watering holes and discussing the trends of the future? Etc.

From Monica O'Rourke:

Pitch: The 10 New SuperFruits You Should be Eating Move over mango and papaya. The new superfruits are cancer-fighting, fat-burning powerhouses just beginning to make a name for themselves in markets and on tables across the country. Transcending eye-appeal, they frequently have to because of their often alien appearance (i.e. durian) and peculiar, even offensive smells (again, durian), they overcompensate for their appearance by offering health benefits unparalleled by the usual supermarket fodder. Good food and good nutrition know no bounds, not anymore, not when formerly seasonal fruits can be shipped worldwide from any climate during any season. It's amazing how many people have still not heard of acai and its positive impact on our health. Add to that fruits like Goji, Mangosteen, Noni, Feijoa, Lúcuma and so many others and you have a cornucopia of exotic, nutritious, beneficial superfruits that have been basically untapped.

For this to work in Food & Beverage Magazine it would need a more restaurant-centric approach. If this pitch had won you would have had to go into more detail about how the story would have been able to tell chefs a bit more about the benefits of these superfruits, how to obtain them, how to use them on the menu and how to use them as a draw to bring in/delight guests.

From Cecelia Heer:

Pitch: While perusing the produce section at the Whole Foods market the other day, I discovered sea beans. They are dark green colored green sprigs that look like spindly, miniature cactus, sans needles. They grow in Europe and also along both coasts of the U.S. and are abundant during the summer through the fall. Their taste is salty with a slight hint of fishiness. They offer a natural flavor that could compliment many dishes, one, of which, is a salad. I would like the opportunity to write an article about these mysterious green algae of the sea.

Our readers are always interested in learning about new products. If you saw them in the grocery store, chances are that they are available to foodservice too. But your pitch didn’t touch on the restaurant/hotel application. And, as a trade publication’s editor I am interested in knowing how they would be best served, perhaps some chefs around the country who are using them and how, where they come from, etc. – that is what would make this an appealing story for us.

From Terri Rimmer:

People over 40 decide to change their careers and spend $25,000 or more to go to culinary school to become chefs, only to encounter age discrimination. This is not about the people who have saved a couple $100,000 to open their own businesses, but the rank and file people who really want to change their careers to do the thing they love, and are hit by head chefs in their 20’s who among other things ask illegal questions during interviews.

An interesting topic, and one we haven’t explored much yet. But for this to work in the pages of Food & Beverage the pitch requires a clearer sense of the angle. My feeling is that the best way to go about this would be to look at it from management’s point of view so that you as the author could enlighten him/her. I would explore some of the following avenues: just what sort of questions are and are not legal to ask, what you should expect when hiring an employee who is a career changer in their 40s, how best to integrate a multi-generational workforce, etc.