Food is my life. Whether it’s eating, cooking, baking, or reading about it – I enjoy all of it. But it wasn’t until last Fall that I realized I could combine that passion with storytelling. For a long time, my perception of food writing was mostly restaurant reviews and recipes. It seemed out of reach for me to break in to, especially because I don’t have a culinary background. That is until I met cookbook author Julia Turshen when she was promoting her book, “Feed the Resistance.” Julia’s cookbook was something that I had never seen before, but it made an impression. It was physical evidence that food can be used as a tool to talk about the human condition.
Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t want to be a journalist. The joke was on me, because that was the path I found myself on. As a student at Howard University, I joined the school newspaper. In my junior year, I changed my minor to print journalism, and landed a summer internship at Black Enterprise magazine. Back then, I wanted to use my position as a black woman to write about issues that affected the black community. But, my relationship with journalism is…complicated. It’s a love/hate type of thing. I worked as an editor for print and digital publications for a couple of years, but the instability of the industry made me hesitant about staying with it. So I’ve kept one foot in, occasionally freelancing.
This year was a turning point. I started a blog, Fed & Bougie, as a way to get my feet wet in food writing. This past June, I was a participant in the Fi2W Telling Immigrant Food Stories workshop at the Allied Media Conference. I left that workshop feeling excited and inspired for the first time in years. I learned that it’s important how food stories are being told, and who is telling them. It reminded me of the motivation I had in college. From that workshop, I got a taste of the kind of education and access Fi2W could offer me as a new food journalist.
And so, the Fi2W/WDET Food Journalism Fellowship came right on time.
I was a little apprehensive about applying. I’m a rookie in food journalism, and I have no audio experience. I doubted that I would be considered. Thankfully, I was wrong about that too. Over these next 6 months, I’m excited to learn new storytelling skills and produce new content. Especially as it relates to Detroit. As a transplant, I want to represent the residents of the city with integrity since mainstream media has failed to do so. I’m certainly stepping out of my comfort zone, learning how to handle equipment, capture sound, cut and mix audio, and write scripts. On top of all that, the most invaluable gift of this fellowship is having access to a community of journalists. That includes my co-fellows. I love that all four of us have a common purpose – to bring more diversity to local food media.
Support for the fellowship comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and through matching gifts from station donors, The International Association of Culinary Professionals’ foundation, The Culinary Trust, and its Growing Leaders Food Writing program. The Food Writing Program is funded with the support of the Boston Foundation.
Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, an anonymous donor and readers like you.