At bonappetit.com, we cover the intersection of food and culture in America. If that sounds broad, it’s because it’s meant to! To us, food is about everything and everything is about food. And we’re always on the lookout for stories about what cooking, eating, and dining out can show us about the rest of our lives. Our staff writers and Test Kitchen editors write many of our service-driven and recipe-focused content, but we rely on freelancers for a lot more: reported features, trend stories, personal essays, and opinion pieces. We look for writers who have a distinct voice, a unique perspective, a one-of-a-kind experience, a sense of humor, and/or deep expertise. We are committed to expanding our network of writers, as well as the scope of our coverage, to include more voices and stories from BIPOC communities. More than anything, writers should have intimate experience with the subjects they want to cover.
Profiles about interesting people doing interesting things: How baker and refugee Youssef Akhtarini opened Aleppo Sweets for homesick Syrians in Providence, RI. Why Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam left New York’s fine-dining scene to become an importer (and proselytizer) of the West African grain fonio. How Reyna Duong of Sandwich Hag changed the way restaurants in Dallas hire when she brought on a team of people with different abilities, including those with Down syndrome. Why Zaid Renato Consuegra Sauza, chef-owner of Pirate’s Bone Burgers in Kansas City and an undocumented immigrant, decided to risk his life and livelihood to speak out against injustice.
Reported trend pieces: How hatch chile season became the pumpkin spice of the Southwest. How food-related merch became a fashion status symbol. The origin story of the now-ubiquitous party bike (you know, those pedaled bars on wheels). An exploration into the USA’s sudden obsession with Japanese milk bread. How high-end omakase became the new top prize among New York City’s dining one-percenters. Are restaurant chairs finally becoming more comfortable? And what’s up with all the blankets?
Deep-dive reported stories (ideally timely, but not always necessary): How Georgia’s restaurants are dealing with reopening as the first state to lift COVID-19 lockdown. For asylum seekers at a tent camp at the U.S.-Mexico border, cooking is about more than survival. The story behind tavern-style pizza, Chicago’s true signature pie. The bizarre history of red sauce chain Buca di Beppo.
Personal essays that speak to a larger cultural moment or a specific event/time: A chef on how he’s managing being both a full-time parent and running a kitchen for first-responders during COVID-19. A writer on his attempt to perfect his mother’s pullao recipe, and what it taught him about “self improvement” during Ramadan. A writer on creating a pretend restaurant while quarantining at home. A Chicano food critic examines how his path to becoming a taco expert was paved with internalized racism.
Unexpected opinion pieces: A former competitive barista on her love for Pumpkin Spice Lattes. A whole-animal butcher describes why boneless skinless chicken breasts are so problematic. Why one bar owner donated $25K worth of rosé in response to an abortion ban. An ode to chewy food, a texture exalted in East and Southeast Asian cuisines that doesn’t get enough love in the west. The problem with white male chef redemption stories.
As-told-tos (first-person pieces written from the perspective and words of your source) with food industry folks—line cooks, servers, farmers, spice blend makers, delivery workers, etc.: Chef Katianna Hong on leaving her dream job to start a family. How owner Tomme Beevas turned his Minneapolis restaurant into a hub for protection and supplies amid protests. Chef-owner Jay Foster on losing his two highly acclaimed San Francisco restaurants to gentrification. A 65-year-old dentist who sold his practice to become a line cook.
We also publish timely, shorter-turnaround as-told-tos as part of our Restaurant Diaries series, launched during COVID-19 to follow how individuals in the food industry are responding to the ever-changing moment.
E-commerce odes based on personal experience (Highly Recommend): These products could be edible or functional—as long as there is a clear cooking/eating connection, it's fair game to pitch. The more unexpected the item and specific the argument, the better. The label maker that keeps kitchen chaos at bay. The mini toaster oven that fits on your desk, heats Bagel Bites, and sparks joy. The tiny licorice bombs that take fresh breath to a new level. The plastic contraption that keeps all your herbs fresh. The mate soda that keeps you going late into the night. We want to know what it’s like to actually use/consume the product, and we are especially interested in featuring products from BIPOC-owned brands at accessible price points.
The occasional fun lark or send up, whose only job is to make the reader smile: A list of pasta shapes to match every emotional state. All the (fake) new drink trends to be borne out of alcoholic seltzer’s runaway success. The surest sign of summer is… that your beer is sitting in a flamingo floaty?
Please Note: We are no longer creating or maintaining our City Guides.
General pitching guidelines
First, check to see if we’ve covered something similar recently. If we have, consider what you hope to add with your story.
Start your email with a sentence about who you are. Think about why you are the best person to write the story and how your personal perspective will factor into the article.
Propose a sample headline. This will help cue us into the hook—the compelling angle of the story that’ll draw the reader in.
Include a brief (about a paragraph or so!) explanation of the story you want to tell. Please be as specific as possible. Consider the angle, perspective, point of tension, and sense of timeliness or general relevance for the moment. And while you’re at it, show off your own personal writing style.
If the story requires reporting or investigating, show us you’ve done some groundwork to support the angle you wish to pursue. Also, give us an idea of who you’ve already talked to, what sources you’ve referenced, and/or where the idea came from.
Include a few links to relevant articles you’ve written. These clips don't have to be about food, but they should show your writing voice at its best.
Our standard rates begin at $250 for Restaurant Diaries, Highly Recommend, and other short-form entries running 300-500 words, and go up from there as determined by word count, experience, and the complexity and/or amount of reporting in the piece.
Please email email@example.com with “PITCH” as the first word in the subject line. For Restaurant Diaries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that we receive a high volume of pitches and do our best to respond to every one. Give us two weeks before following up. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit