By Lil Nickelson
On Monday, March 5th, 2018 the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance (“NYWCA”) held its 8th Annual Stories & Advice event titled “Dynamic Women in Food Media” on the 3rd floor at The Institute of Culinary Education located at 225 Liberty Street in lower Manhattan from 6 pm to 9 pm. What a great way for the NYWCA to kick off Women’s History Month by presenting three women who have trail blazed careers in food media that have distinguished them within their respective media channels.
The evening began with a food and beverage networking reception that featured food and beverages made and/or represented by women. Everything that I sampled was phenomenal, but what I really enjoyed was the networking that took place during this part of the evening. I sat next to mother and daughter culinary professionals: Mom is a private chef for a wealthy person and the daughter was a pastry chef that just made a career change from a restaurant to a position at the cooking school where the event was held. Mom and I exchanged contact information and I do plan on connecting with her once she returns from Florida with her client.
The food media panel discussion began about 7:30 pm and the members were:
- Amanda Hesser – is an author, writer, editor that spent eleven years working at The New York Times before becoming co-founder and CEO of Food52 in 2009 that has over 12 million audience members (which I am one of) and a Twitter app producer of Plodt, which helps you keep track of (and rating) the food you cook and eat. Amanda served on President Obama’s Commission on White House Fellowships.
- Kathy Oberman – is a member of NYWCA that has a 25-year multi-media career as a television producer, media spokesperson, writer, chef and food stylist that formerly produced for Bobby Flay, Martha Stewart and B. Smith. Kathy is currently the executive producer and owner of KO Omnimedia LLC that is producing a new organic food TV series starring Nell Newman and working on two other original TV productions.
- Michelle Buffardi – is a member of NYWCA that is an author and VP, Digital Editor for the Food Network and the Cooking Channel and in this role, she oversees digital editorial and programming strategy for culinary and restaurant for their respective websites; her team creates recipe, how-to and restaurant content. Michelle has spent the last 8 years at Food Network and previously worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
- Terry Frishman moderated the discussion. Terry is a NYWCA VP who owns Culinest, a food business consultancy firm that works with culinary businesses to profitably launch, scale classic packaged goods marketing and excel through brainstorming, consulting and education. I met Terry during a free consulting session I had at Columbia University’s Business School where she received her MBA; she continues to give back.
My take away points from the discussion on the future of food media are as follows:
Develop as many skills as possible (write, style, take photos, produce) because in today’s times everything must be done for less; the more skills you possess make you more desirable when you’re looking for work in food media.
Think out of the box to create your own opportunities with like-minded people to give you control over your future like two of the panel members (Amanda and Kathy) have done.
Video is now the new TV horizon; think about producing 360 virtual reality videos. If you go into a health care center and while you are waiting to see a doctor they are showing you videos on everything like how to develop a wellness plan, how to plan your meals, eat healthier meals, exercise, etc. on the televisions.
Now one of things I liked hearing is that they are looking for different types of writers. Professionally I was educated and worked in the finance and accounting fields, however, my Mom started teaching me about cooking when I was 5 years old. I ’ve been writing since I was in junior high school and about food and cooking for the last 10 years.
Believing in yourself and your ideas will help you learn to never accept no; translate it into not right now, but don’t give up.
Job opportunities for women over 35 years old are out there because there are many readers over 40 years old who are looking for content that appeals to them and their lifestyles.
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Job opportunities in food media are on the increase with brands, food, technology, science and the medical industries; you must think out of the box.
Now who you know has and will always be important, but networking at events like this can help you develop networking skills, as well as help you expand on who you know and who knows you. Case in point, the four speakers stuck around to network with people at the end of the event. Thanks to NYWCA President Brona Cosgrave, for giving me access to such a stimulating event.