I've been perusing past nominees and finalists for the James Beard Foundation's food writing, journalism and photography categories and I was wondering if you would help me brainstorm or refine some topics that you feel are either underserved or would be interesting, fun and helpful?
I've absolutely fallen in love with Bill Buford's "Heat" and now hourly dream and scheme how to reach similar success and contribute to the culture and business that surround food.
To get the juices flowing, here's a couple ideas:
- Study the world of tourist trap restaurants, exploring their business, their seasonality and the socio-economic environs they must operate in. Alot of sexy places get all the limelight and I'm wondering what sort of stories might lurk within this somewhat shady, maybe awful world
- A series of interviews focusing on a specific role or expertise in the kitchen brigade (saucier came to mind first). Explore the techniques, the athleticism, the finesse required. Everyone knows kitchens as hot, sharp, noisy places. I'm interested in approaching chefs as athletes, and understanding the biomechanics and mental processes (philosophies, pharmacology etc) that help people create uncanny chemistry.
- High level analysis for food reviewers, exploring influences beyond taste and smell that affect how people rate food. Essentially, a tar and feather piece on yelp, tripadvisor etc. Maybe this is old hat.
- Unglamorous kitchens: documenting how food is prepared on an institutional level - might not be alot of meat to this one. Was thinking looking at school kitchens could be interesting. Theyre pretty opaque spaces in US society.
- Familial or cultural cooking traditions that havent been explored? Are there any that haven't been? I have a couple ideas that sorta fit into the "first responders cookbook" genre but arent yet-another-firehouse-cookbook sort of thing.
What do you think? What stories need to be told? What is the public absolutely wrong or backwards about?
Thank you for your time and consideration!