Meet the Media – Carolyn Jung, food writer and editor of Food Gal
What’s your top story for today?
I could tell you that, but then I’d have to send a hit-man after you. Just kidding, but publications often don’t like me to talk about what I’m working on until the story is in print. Without giving anything away, I just visited a farm where I got up close and personal with some adorable goats and ponies.
Tell us about your dream assignment.
I think any assignment can be a dream one if it’s engaging, newsy and distinctive. I’ve been lucky to have had quite a few of them, including interviewing the late-great Julia Child; attending and writing about a dinner at Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine laboratory, which is by invitation-only; and getting to meet the father of the modern-day sugar snap pea, botanist Calvin Lamborn, who is still doing his life’s work at age 85.
Describe the wackiest story you’ve written.
It may have been a story espousing the curative properties of a big honking burrito. Whenever I feel under the weather, I eat a ginormous burrito swimming in hot salsa. And afterward, I always feel better. I even interviewed a nutritionist and a doctor about it. The nutritionist said she could see how a burrito might be effective since it’s loaded with protein and Vitamin C. The doctor, being a good sport, said anything that makes you feel better when you’re feeling ill can’t be bad for you.
What is your PR pet peeve?
Thankfully, this has only happened once. But my ultimate peeve is being flat-out lied to by a publicist. I was on deadline trying to reach a chef. I was told that the chef was on vacation. I found out on my own that the chef quit, and the restaurant was trying to keep that hushed. That was the epitome of unprofessionalism.
Top trend in the industry you’re currently covering or are interested in.
The intersection of food and tech. I live in Silicon Valley, so it’s been quite intriguing to see how the tech sector is now trying to disrupt the food industry in so many ways.
Tell us a little about yourself.
People always ask how I came to be a food writer. I always tell them that being of Chinese heritage and being raised in San Francisco, I couldn’t help but grow up with a love for food. As a kid, I loved baking every weekend. In fact, I still do. In college, my best friend and I wouldn’t give each other “normal’’ gifts for birthdays and Christmas. Instead, we saved up our money to take each other to Masa’s and Chez Panisse. That’s not to say I grew up fantasizing about being a food writer. I was a hard-news reporter for the first half of my career in newspapers. It wasn’t until the food editor at the time decided not to return after maternity leave that the job came open, and my co-workers – probably already sick of me talking about food all the time – encouraged me to apply for the job. It was the best decision ever. It’s rare that you get to make a living doing something that was always a passion to begin with. I feel very fortunate in that respect. Food writing has given me so many incredible opportunities, including winning a James Beard Award; writing the cookbook “San Francisco Chef’s Table’’; creating my own blog, FoodGal; and the ability to meet so many inspiring chefs, farmers, entrepreneurs, and home-cooks.
Questions or comments for Carolyn? Leave a comment below or tweet Carolyn @CarolynJung.