Can you write a recipe?
I’ve been at my freelance job (recipe development/testing and food writing/editing) for 4 weeks now. I’ll have this position until January, with talk of it becoming permanent, which is exciting.
About 70% of the content I’m working on is ghost written, which basically means I’m writing FOR other chefs, on their behalf — they get the byline, while I do the writing and recipe development/testing. I’m also cleaning up recipes they’ve poorly written. These chefs have many more years of industry experience than I do and boast impressive resumes, yet they can’t write an understandable, easy-to-follow recipe, which puzzles me. Developing this skillset will make you more marketable in the industry, especially if you go on to be a sous chef, executive chef, or if you take my path into food writing, research and development. How could the culinary school community have skipped over such an important part of becoming a chef?
My school is no different. I learned how to write recipes on my own, by reading books and other recipes from reliable sources to develop my own style guide — it wasn’t something formally taught in my culinary school, except for the brief project we worked on in culinary management class.
Learning to write a proper recipe that can be easily understood, followed and successfully executed is like learning a brand new language with strange new rules, phrases and abbreviations. For example, the way you word measurements in your list of ingredients is important. One cup of chopped parsley is not the same thing as one cup of parsley, chopped. Think about where the word "chopped" is placed in the sentence:
One cup of chopped parsley means that you've CHOPPED the parsley before you measured it.
One cup of parsley, chopped, means that you've MEASURED the parsley before you chopped it.
The two descriptions will yield completely different amounts, so you have to be careful you're using the correct placement of your verbs and adjectives.
The style guide I follow at work is 50+ pages long, with descriptions just like the one above, along with other key phrases, like “bring to boiling” instead of “bring to a boil.” But, because I had learned about these methods ahead of time, it’s like second nature now, and my recipes are stronger and better for learning it.
I keep the following recipe writing and food books with me at all times — they’re what I used to initially learn the process, and are now my favorite reference guides:
The Recipe Writer’s Handbook, Revised and Updated
by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane Baker
I keep this book with me at all times, always finding a new writing tip every time I open it. The book goes into greater detail, dissecting recipes and descriptions.
Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More
by Dianne Jacob
Dianne describes the art of "showing rather than telling" perfectly in her book, and shares helpful food writing examples from newspapers, books and magazine articles.
Food Lover’s Companion
by Sharon Tyler Herbst
A favorite reference book of mine, it contains almost 6,000 listings on subjects related to food and drink — ingredients, techniques, spellings and pronounciations.
Featured Culinary Schools
- Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
- Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
- Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
- Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
- Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
- Flexible Scheduling
- Financial Aid
- Transferable Credits
- Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
- Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
- Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
- Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
- Online Courses
- Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
- Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and Inside Higher Ed.
- Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
- Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
- Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania
- Online Courses
- Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
- Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
- Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
- Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
- Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
- Flexible Scheduling
- Financial Aid