FAQ


Here are some questions that I am frequently asked (yes, these are all based on real questions I have received). Have a question you don’t see on the list? Shoot me an email at katherine@katherinemartinelli.com!

How did you become a food writer?
Do you have any formal culinary training?
Do you have a writing or journalism degree?
So if you have no culinary or journalism training, what gives you the authority to write about food?
Do you have any advice for aspiring food writers?
What kind of camera do you use?
What kind of lens do you use?
I’m buying a new DSLR camera. Do you have any recommendations?
What kind of light/lighting do you use?
Can I advertise on your site?
Why Be’er Sheva?
Are you related to the Martinellis of xyz?

How did you become a food writer?

I have always loved food, but it wasn’t until I left teaching (yes, I was a social studies teacher in a former life) that I did some soul searching and realized that food writing was tangible career. I landed an internship at a culinary magazine, which turned into a full-time job. After two years there I moved to Israel and have been freelancing ever since.

Do you have any formal culinary training?

I do not. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to go to culinary school, but I always knew I wasn’t cut out to work in a restaurant kitchen. Since culinary school for the fun of it seemed indulgent, I’ve done my best to teach myself. My father, who cooked dinner ever night for us growing up, was my first teacher. I love to cook and have learned from cookbooks, magazines, blogs, and, of course, trial and error.

Do you have a writing or journalism degree?

Again, I do not. I worked on the newspaper in high school, but that was a long time ago. As a history and South Asian Studies double major I was constantly writing papers, which I like to think honed my technical writing ability. In grad school I was the editor of an International Educational Development student journal. And, with a few years of professional experience under my belt I have worked with some wonderful editors who have helped further develop my craft.

So if you have no culinary or journalism training, what gives you the authority to write about food?

What gives anyone the authority to write about food? Frank Bruni, the former food critic of The New York Times, was a news correspondent who wrote a book about George Bush Senior and another about abuses in the catholic church before taking his post. And many chefs without a journalism background have written succesful culinary memoirs. Some of my favorite young food writers have taken just the path I have. My time at the culinary magazine was also a crash course in food, wine, cocktails, the restaurant industry, writing, and photography. I traveled the country with the editor-in-chief, sometimes eating in as many as five restaurants a day, tasting, tasting, tasting. And writing. And photographing. I interviewed chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers, mixologists, and restaurateurs, tasted their creations and pairings, learned about the thought process behind them, and developed my palate. I may not have expensive diplomas, but I do have passion, knowledge, and published articles.

Do you have any advice for aspiring food writers?

If you are just starting out or are a career changer, don’t be afraid of an internship. I’m morally opposed to them when unpaid, but the sad reality is often it’s one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. I worked nights and weekends at a restaurant to pay my bills during the five months that I held an unpaid internship, but it was worth it in the long run.

Even more importantly, though, is to eat and read. Eat everything you can get your hands on and everywhere you can afford. Try new ingredients and be adventurous. Read sites like Grub Street and Eater to be on top of food news and trends. Find food writers who you admire and read. Get a sense of the style of writing you like so you can develop your own. I am a big fan of MFK Fisher, Ruth Reichl, Mimi Sheraton, and Michael Ruhlman, for example. Read well-written kitchen memoirs like Life, On the Line by Grant Achatz and My Life in France by Julia Child (one of my all time favorite books). Get a copy of Dianne Jacobs’ Will Write for Food and read it cover to cover.

Then it’s time to pitch, pitch, pitch. This is the hard part. The rejection part. But you need to pitch to every editor and publication you can think of. Sometimes people will want you to write for free, and you’ll have to consider whether it’s worth it. Hopefully, at some point, you will begin to make some money off this crazy gig. But no one said it would be easy.

What kind of camera do you use?

I have a Nikon d3000. It’s not a top of the line DSLR but I like how light it is and find that it suits my needs.

What kind of lens do you use?

I have the 18-55mm lens that came with the camera and a 50mm 1.8. Although the lens that comes with your camera is never that great, I must admit that I can’t afford a fancy lens at the moment and use this one quite often. Because my camera is full frame, a 50mm lens is more like 75mm, which works great for food photography. This is a great, crisp lens but only works on manual focus on my camera.


I’m buying a new DSLR camera. Do you have any recommendations?

Getting a new camera is fun, but it can also be heartbreaking because they are so expensive. First decide how much you want to spend and that will help you narrow things down dramatically, so you don’t waste your time drooling over a $5,000 camera you can’t afford (yup, lesson learned). I decided to go with Nikon simply because that is what I was used to, so really the brand is whatever you are comfortable with. When I took a for photography class over the summer the teacher and everyone who had fancy equipment had Canon Mark D cameras, which are top of the line.
The most important thing I’ve learned with all this camera stuff is that it is SO easy to get bogged down in equipment, and getting the best, the latest. But really you can do a lot with a little, and even the basic cameras are great, especially for blogging purposes. Check out my post on food photography for more.


What kind of light/lighting do you use?

I try to shoot in natural light whenever possible, but the truth of the matter is I am often photographing my dinner, and it is often dark already. So I rely heavily on my trusty Lowell Ego light, which I can’t recommend enough. It produces a nice, soft, daylight-reminiscent light plus it is compact, which is another consideration for me (small apartment living means no studio lights). At around $100 it’s also fairly reasonable.


Can I advertise on your site?

I do have advertising opportunities available on KatherineMartinelli.com. Please email me for a media kit and pricing information. My first priority is to provide a pleasant reading experience for my visitors, and I am highly selective about which ads I will display. I do not offer link ads at this time.


Why Be’er Sheva?

I get this question from everyone I meet, whether they are American or native Israeli, whether they live in Tel Aviv or Be’er Sheva. My husband and I moved here in 2010 so he can attend medical school at Ben Gurion University. And I really do enjoy living here, right in the center of the country. We’re just about equidistant from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Mitzpe Ramon, and the Dead Sea. It’s easy to get around, we have a wonderful market here, and the cost of living is significantly less expensive than Tel Aviv.


Are you related to the Martinellis of xyz?

I’ve gotten quite a few questions asking if I am related to various Martinellis around the globe. The answer is probably no, but ask me anyway! You never know! I can tell you that none of my relatives are politicians, and sadly we have no affiliation to the apple cider.