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Sacramento Press hosts Food Writing workshop

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Food writer Becky Grunewald came to a full house at The Sacramento Press Thursday to share her tips on food writing with attendees, who got the chance to write reviews on food they sampled at the workshop and get professional feedback.

Grunewald showed up to give everyone a little taste of good technique at the second food-writing workshop The Sacramento Press has given.

Grunewald has been writing a food column for Midtown Monthly for four years, but it all started with her modest food blog. Now, she has her work featured in local monthlies and will have a piece in Sunset magazine next month.

The workshop began with a buffet from Selland’s Market, where attendees chose snacks from an assortment of signature cheeses, sandwiches, flatbreads and roasted vegetables. There was also a dessert tray of cookies, cupcakes, brownies, chocolate canolis, truffles, chocolate mousse and other tantalizing goodies.

Grunewald gave the audience 10 minutes to write about their treats, telling them to use all of their senses.

The room was silent while students, foodies, and experienced journalists studied their plates and tried to put their experiences into words.

When everyone was finished writing, Grunewald shared what she considers the five tenants of exceptional food writing : passion; curiosity; voice, tone and style; confidence and experience.

She read a food piece aloud by Pullitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold, called “Le Cevicheria: Blood and Clams” and discussed what made his writing so powerful.

After listening to Grunewald read the food columns of Gold and other distinguished food writers, audience members took another look at their own pieces and personalized them using the tips she shared during the workshop.

Four people shared their work, including Lindol French, who compared the food elements on his plate to the characters of the TV show “Jersey Shore.”

Travel professional Christy Jourdan also shared her writing, but was more hesitant at first. This was her second workshop this summer.

“In the first thing I wrote, I wasn’t being me,” Jourdan said. “I was trying to judge the cupcake, which I’m not qualified to do. But then when Becky said the thing about being yourself, what came out was natural and good.”

But Jourdan wasn’t the only one who benefit from Grunewald’s insight.

Davis Enterprise Staff Writer John Edwards attended the workshop just to see what it was like and walked away with some useful writing tools.

“Becky was very knowledgeable herself, contextualizing the writing and everything,” Edwards said. “But I also really like the networking aspect of this. I got to meet some really talented people.”

And even the woman in the crowd who came with extensive food writing experience of her own, Human Rights Advocate Colleen Marie-Blanchefluer Whalen, got a lot out of this workshop.

“I’m an eco-gastronomy, eco-literacy educator, and even I learned a lot,” Whalen said. “I highly recommend these workshops. I’ll Yelp it like A++.”

The next workshop will be Oct. 13. David Watts Barton will teach attendees how to review concerts, theater and other performances. To RSVP, e-mail workshops@sacramentopress.com.


Photos courtesy of Sacramento Press Managing Editor Colleen Belcher.

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