How to Become a Freelance Restaurant Critic

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Becoming a freelance restaurant critic could lead to a long career writing about food. Many restaurant critics write for local newspapers or magazines, and those publications may represent your best bet for finding freelance work. Some restaurant critics at major news outlet have travel budgets and review restaurants around the world. That’s an admirable goal, but you may find opportunities working for small magazines or newspapers near your home.

Get some training as a writer. Ideally, earn a four-year degree in journalism, English or creative writing. As a freelance restaurant critic, you may compete against accomplished writers with great education and experience. Having a solid background in writing or journalism will improve your chances of finding work. If a four-year degree is not possible, take writing courses at your local community college.

Attend a cooking school or cooking classes. This isn’t mandatory for becoming a restaurant critic but the experience learning about foods could be invaluable.

Take a part-time job working in a restaurant as a waiter. This also isn’t mandatory but the experience will give you a valuable insider’s view of the restaurant business.

Get as many writing assignments as you can as you hone your writing skills. Many great food or restaurant critics start their careers by writing about other subjects, including local government, the police beat or entertainment. Focus on writing tight, bright copy that’s also colorful and descriptive when the assignment calls for it. Take a part-time position at a weekly newspaper near your home to get started. If the paper isn’t hiring, offer to write for free and begin collecting some clippings showing some work. After a few months, ask the paper to allow you to begin writing restaurant reviews.

Strike out on your own as a freelance restaurant critic. Make a list of all publications in your area publishing restaurant reviews. Send a letter to appropriate contacts at each publication offering your services for hire as a restaurant critic. List your experience and qualifications in the cover letter. Note your education, such as a degree in journalism, and other experience such as cooking school certification, work as a waiter, and broad writing experience for a local newspaper including restaurant reviews. Offer to write a sample restaurant review for free to show what you can do. Send the letter with a half dozen of your best clips, including four restaurant reviews. Follow up by telephone. Keep making pitches and inquiries until you begin receiving assignments as a freelance restaurant critic.

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