Food Blogger Spotlight: Dianne Jacob

For the next installment of our Food Blogger Spotlight, we’ve got Dianne Jacob of Will Write for Food sharing a bit about her cooking and writing life. Though she’s relatively new to blogging, Dianne is a well known food writer whose work has appeared outlets such as Sunset, Gastronomica, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Dianne is perhaps most well known – among food writers, at least – for her first book, also called Will Write for Food. This is the definitive guide on how to become a food writer, written from her years of experience as a writer, editor and writing coach. I’d venture to say that many of us food bloggers have this book somewhere on our shelves. If you’re interested in learning from Dianne directly, you can also take her classes online at Leite’s Culinaria or in person at the Writing Salon.

Please welcome Dianne, and say hello in the comments!

We all have staples that we couldn’t live without. What three ingredients do you *always* have in your kitchen and why? I’m not talking snacks like chips and hummus, but rather ingredients you use all the time in your cooking.
Oils (mostly olive, peanut and canola), a million kinds of vinegars, and various shapes of organic whole wheat pasta from Safeway (voted No. 1 in a taste test recently). I tend to make a lot of Italian and Asian pastas and pasta salads, mostly vegetarian but sometimes with a little meat or a can of fish from the cupboard. I adore complex carbs, and I try to be healthy.  As long as I go to the farmer’s market regularly, there’s usually something I can whip up with veggies and herbs.

Imagine you moved to the smallest apartment possible – a shoebox, really – and you only had room for a single cookbook. Of all your cookbooks, which one would you keep? Why do you love it so?

Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It’s comprehensive and elegant, full of practical information and luscious recipes. I’m always looking up how to use an ingredient, or finding inspiration in her recipe ideas. Plus, no matter how many times I’ve read the same information, I always enjoy how well-crafted her recipes are and her strong, lyrical voice.

When you’re looking for new recipes (or creating one of your own), what is your number one priority? What makes you pick one recipe over another?

Usually I cook from what’s at the farmer’s market, so I like seasonal recipes. I cut out a lot of recipes from the San Francisco Chronicle’s food section. They usually focus on what’s in season, and they seem to know what kind of dishes I like. Mostly Cal-Ital, I guess it’s called. I look for unfussy, boldly flavored dishes from Italy and from around the globe. I’ve gotten to the point where I have a pretty good sense of whether a recipe will work, and if not, how to fix it or modify it with a substitute ingredient.

Blogs have the potential to be so many things, from personal journals to outrageous adventure reports. What is the most important thing you put into your blog, and what is the most important thing you get out of it?

I’d like my blog to be a go-to resource for people who write about food, mostly bloggers. I’m making my way through the subjects that matter to them, including news, trends or a new way to look at writing or voice. The most important thing is to be a guide who makes them think. I love hearing from people in the comments. It’s a way to connect with readers without leaving my desk, and I’m always impressed by how thoughtful they are. Plus, the blog gives me an opportunity to write on a regular basis, something I’d stopped doing due to teaching and coaching.

Thanks for sharing, Dianne!

Click here for more Food Bloggers Spotlight interviews.

Here are some of my favorite posts from Dianne’s Blog, Will Write for Food:

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Comments from other ninjas:

  1. sarah henry says

    I agree with Dianne, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone would be my #1 pick as well. It’s my most well-thumbed, food-splattered, go-to guide when I’m mulling over what to make for dinner.

    And if your home was truly that tiny it could double as a doorstop!
    .-= sarah henry

      • Dianne Jacob says

        Hi Ola and Stephanie,

        I am a judge for the James Beard awards this year and have been in the past as well. I’ve never worked for the organization, but a perk of judging is that you get to go to the awards ceremony in New York.

  2. Frugal Kiwi says

    Since moving to New Zealand, I’m much more in tune with seasonal cooking as well. It’s hard to argue with cheaper and more delicious!
    .-= ———->Frugal Kiwi

  3. Almost Slowfood says

    When I was wallowing away in the corporate world, I read your book, Dianne! It was such a revelation and gave me the confidence to write on. Love your new blog too.

    Great interview, Stephanie!
    .-= ———->Almost Slowfood

  4. MarthaAndMe says

    I haven’t read her book, but just ordered it. And I’m adding her blog to my Google Reader. Thanks for this interview!

  5. Nic says

    Thanks for this. I just started reading “Will write for food”, great stuff.

    Good to see that Dianne is starting to blog, I’ll have to go spend some time there :)
    .-= ———->Nic

  6. Jennifer Margulis says

    I want to read both the cookbook she recommends and her book about food writing. I’m not a food writer but I did get to go to France on an assignment to write about cassoulet and it was such a fantastic experience. I love writing about food and want to learn more about it. Plus, my daughter is a vegetarian and though I love Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and my old old copy of Moosewood, I need some new ideas…
    .-= ———->Jennifer Margulis

  7. Katherine Lewis says

    What a very practical interview! These are the kind of questions whose answers I can put to immediate use. Thanks!
    .-= ———->Katherine Lewis

  8. Daily Spud says

    Yes I do have a copy of Dianne’s book on my shelves and I do have her blog in my RSS reader. Now I think I just need to get a copy of Deborah Madison’s book and I’m all set :)
    .-= ———->Daily Spud

      • Dianne Jacob says

        Hi all, thanks for all the positive comments about Will Write for Food. It means a lot to me when people say they’ve read it or that it’s helped them.

        I’m extending the book by blogging about food writing, and the best part is the conversations that evolve.

        Thanks Stephanie, for asking good questions and providing the opportunity. I loved Cheryl’s interview and look forward to the rest.
        .-= ———->Dianne Jacob


  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by sstiavetti: Food Blogger Spotlight with Dianne Jacob Come learn a little about @diannej!…

  2. […] you’ve got a little more time to browse find a recipe resource that appeals. My colleague Dianne Jacob over at WW4F has gathered links to five of these best ofs in one place.

  3. […] If you like the book, I recommend you also check out Dianne’s food writing course and blog on food writing. She’s not only an excellent writer, but a wonderfully thorough teacher and consultant. I also interviewed her on Wasabimon not long ago about her cooking and blogging life. […]