My Internship at SAVEUR Magazine
Author & Photographer: Paige Resnick
A bell rings in the distance. Salty scents of the ocean and bright notes of lemon drift between the desks. I follow my nose away from my computer into the kitchen where the rest of the office has gathered. An impromptu feast of crab and shrimp is spread across a long wooden table, unexpectedly shipped in 20 pound bags from an eager fisherman in Maryland. The sound of hammers cracking shell echoes through the office as everyone hunts for the sweet meat, plastic bibs protecting work clothes from the spray of juices. For the moment, deadlines and meetings are forgotten. Sighs escape from mouths and eyes close as everyone seems to lose themselves in this gustatory bliss. This was just a typical Monday during my internship at SAVEUR Magazine.
In the middle of New York City’s Koreatown on the top floor of a narrow, window-covered building sits the office of SAVEUR. The culinary magazine first hit stands in 1994, and since then its pages have been devoured by chefs and amateurs alike for its award winning essays, stories, photography, and recipes that uncover unique, epicurean traditions from around the world. Months after practically begging the senior associate editor for a job, my cold-email got a response and I was hired as an editorial intern for the summer, hungry to get my foot in the door of the food media and publishing scene. This is the real-world version of Bite. Eating food and writing about it is a possible career path. Nothing could possibly sound better to me.
An editorial intern wears many hats; firstly, that of a fact checker, poring through print and online stories to check every date, name, foreign word, event, and anything else that can be cross-referenced by the internet. That of a copy editor, catching grammatical errors, awkward sentences, layout issues, and formatting problems in recipes, stories, and tables of contents. That of a researcher, scouring Google for the best, most authentic panettone in Italy. That of an Anne Hathaway-like character in The Devil Wears Prada, in charge of organizing “The Binder,” containing every sacred page of the magazine before being sent off to the printer. That of a freelance writer, crafting online roundups with click-worthy titles, short blurbs for back-of-book content, catchy captions, and even one lengthy article that required a 4 am interview with a Parisian baker. I was even able to peek in on food photoshoots, standing by long tables stacked with bowls, spoons, and tablecloths for props as photographers and food stylists purposefully splattered bright tomato sauce across clean white plates.
When I wasn’t furiously typing away, I got to experience the glamour of a job in the food industry. Packages of Italian imported prosciutto free for the taking. A test kitchen manager whisking up treacle tarts, Latvian beet soup, and whole salt-baked fish for everyone to taste and critique. A bag of blood-red cherries from the farmers market handed out for snacking on the subway ride home. Prime rib from a tasting event the night before heated up as a snack between meetings. Of course, all of this dining was not without purpose, and we were not just eating because we were hungry. In the food industry, it was stressed to me that you eat to uncover a previously undiscovered story, to understand a different perspective or culture, and to appreciate an art form with all of the senses. Every morsel deserves the same thought and attention as each word on the page.
I finished my internship having gained many things: five pounds, my original work published in a top tier magazine, the skills to pitch a story and start freelancing with major publications while still in college, multiple contacts that can connect me with leaders in the industry, and a new vocabulary of journalism lingo, to name a few. If you are looking to have a similar experience in food media, I have a few words of advice: 1. Be ready with ideas. If you have the opportunity to pitch your own stuff, take advantage of it. Getting published is such a thrill. 2. Be a self-starter. Not every second of the day is filled with your editor handing out assignments, so the more initiative you take, the more opportunities you will have to learn and get your name out there. 3. Think differently. No one wants to read the same story about cake-pops. Unless there is some town in Brazil that puts bugs inside. 4. Come hungry. There will be lots to eat.