Matthew Fort’s tips for being a (GOOD) food writer

Last week I was invited along to a food writing workshop hosted by Great British Chefs at Google’s newest London offices. Guest speaker was Matthew Fort,  a legend in the history of lunchtimes and a highly entertaining gentleman to boot


Here are Matthew’s top 10 tips for success as a food writer:

1) Make it clear

2) Keep it simple (don’t use a long word if a shorter one will do)

3) Avoid the cliche – some that should be ‘taken outside & shot’ (sorry, couldn’t resist!): peruse, ‘my companion’, ‘melt-in the mouth’ in ref. meat (chocolate, ice cream or butter melt in your mouth, meat however should not!), crispy – it’s CRRRISP!,  ‘pan-fried’ (what else would it be?!), tangy  

4) Keep to the point (don’t waffle) 

5) If in doubt ‘cut it out’ (& don’t bin anything – reform, reshape & use another time) 

6) Keep verbs in the active – the active voice is shorter and more direct. (example Active: The waiter dropped the tray of food. Passive: The tray of food was dropped by the waiter.) 

7) No showing off! (fancy foreign words and the like)

8) Avoid irony (guaranteed you’ll be misunderstood) 

9) Break any of these rules for the sake of a good gag! (my personal favourite)

10) Give yourself a break and re-read the next day and & check for all of the above 

So, how do I rate as a food writer against these guidelines?

  on pretty much every single count at some point!  (slinks off stage left to rethink things)

With thanks to @gbchefs and @matthewfort for a super (and informative) evening – I was clearly taking note as this is the shortest post I think I’ve ever written by a foodie-mile!   

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2 Responses to “Matthew Fort’s tips for being a (GOOD) food writer”

  1. December 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Love this post! Laughed out loud at the pan fried bit, my dad always seems to go off on a similar rant whenever I take him out for dinner.

    • Nadine
      December 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      Matthew was a highly entertaining speaker it has to be said, I certainly laughed aloud on several occasions

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