We talk to Food Writer, Monica Bhide, on whether food writing has come of age in India with the explosion of interest in novel cuisines and healthy eating.
Interview by Anne John
Monica Geller of the TV show Friends is famously known for her interest in food and cooking. Here we have her namesake, who eats, cooks, writes as well as teaches about food! Meet the other food-enthusiast-Monica; Monica Bhide!
Anne John (AJ): Hi Monica! Your story of discovering cooking as a way to connect with people is touching. Over the years, how have you and your cooking evolved?
Monica Bhide (MB): In so many ways! I used to always cook to nurture and connect and then over the past few years, my writing began to fill that role as well. So, I guess, in many ways I am really lucky… Now I have two ways to connect with my readers, my friends and my family: I can write and cook for them!
AJ: You have published 3 cookbooks so far. Given that Indians are big-time foodies, is food writing a viable career option in India? What does it take to ‘make it’ in this field?
MB: Food writing is definitely a growing field in India as Indians are becoming more and more interested in food. All you have to do is take a look at the number of magazines, newspapers and blogs featuring food! Magazines are also starting to pay well for features on food.
As far as what it takes; know your subject, write well, learn to cook, learn to taste and read as much as you can! I am sure there are many other things, but these are the basics.
AJ: Do share with us your journey to becoming a food writer. What challenges did you face? How did you overcome them?
MB: I think the challenges were similar to what anyone new to an industry would face. I was an engineer trying to learn how to write for magazines. I knew nothing about publishing, editing or writing. But, I tried to learn and by trial and error, I think I have come this far!
AJ: Most established cooks transition into Cooking Instructors and conduct Cookery Classes. But your classes are different (i.e.) focused more on food writing. How did this come about?
MB: I do both! I teach food writing (online and in person) and I teach cooking classes. I wish I did cooking classes more – I have to say, it has been a while since I did the last one!
AJ: What tips would you give budding food writers?
MB: Learn about ingredients – basic and exotic. Read a lot. Write every single day. Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions. Have fun.
Food writing is one of the best and most creative fields you can be in!
AJ: Which food writers do you enjoy reading?