Being a food critic is the ultimate dream. Sampling fine dishes each day, passing the bill to your editor and getting paid to write fun and sometimes brutal reviews sounds like heaven. But though the job is a good one, it's also highly sought after, making it a tough profession to break into. Finding success as a food writer depends on your understanding of food, your ability to write and whether or not you stand out.
Having an Education
According to Pay Scale, the salary range for a food writer is anywhere between $30,000 and $70,000. It isn't necessary to have a degree in order to become a food writer, but it helps launch you ahead of the competition to secure a spot in the higher income range. A degree in journalism or English sharpens writing skills, and a degree in culinary arts adds authenticity to food reviews.
The greater your understanding of food, the more likely that your food reviews will meet with approval. If you haven't the slightest idea what foie gras is or what a good chardonnay tastes like, your descriptions of them will fall flat, resulting in lower pay and fewer assignments. According to Pay Scale, the more experience a writer has, the greater the salary. A beginner with less than a year of experience, either in food or writing, can make as little as $14,000, while an experienced writer with 20 years in the industry can command as much as $100,000 and more.
Having a Way with Words
Even a degree in English can't guarantee you'll have a way with words. Your writing must be engaging, interesting and have authority. Newspapers and magazine editors alike look for writers whose writing style immediately grabs readers' attentions. If readers enjoy a food critic's column, they let the publication know. And if the readers are happy, the editor is happy and wants to keep the writer around.
A. A. Gill, a food critic who writes for the London Times, is infamous on both sides of the Atlantic. His scathing reviews and educated insults have gotten him a great deal of attention. Impressing readers to such a degree means a boost in income and opens avenues of greater opportunity. Gill is published not only in the "London Times," but in "Vanity Fair," and has had several books published, thereby greatly increasing his annual pay.