"The primary requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite. Without this, it is impossible to accumulate, within the allotted span, enough experience of eating to have anything worth setting down." AJ Liebling, Between Meals
Spread over two days, this course aims to provide a brief history of food writing, as well as practical advice on everything from attracting the eye of the commissioning editor, to restaurant criticism, blogs and self-publishing.
Some of the finest and most experienced writers in the food world will come together to offer inspiration, insight and bons mots, including Matthew Fort, Mark Hix, Fergus Henderson, Simon Hopkinson, Tim Hayward and Bob Granleese.
But this is not a course in how to write – where subject goes in relation to object, proper apostrophe use or the horrors of splitting the infinitive. These things should have been learned years back, and fall under the heading of grammar. But I hope this course offers a pragmatic, practical and enjoyable few hours in this most delectable of arts.
There will be three sessions per day (two hour-long ones in the morning, one two-hour session in the afternoon), as well as a special lunch on the first day in one of London's finest restaurants, that we want you to review, then discuss the next day with the chefs, critics and restaurateurs.
10am - History of food writing, with Tom Parker-Bowles and Matthew Fort
Context is key, as the food writer will spend a huge deal of time, nose buried in some dusty tome. We'll go through all the greats, from Apicius and Acton through Glasse and Grigson, via Liebing, Trillin, Davidson, David, Fisher, Meades and Slater. Each student should choose his or her favourite food writer and bring in their favourite work.
11.30am – How not to write about food, with Tom Parker-Bowles, Matthew Fort and Bob Granleese
There will be endless examples of the clunking rubbish, the prose equivalent of "vine-ripened" or "pan-fried" on the menu. We'll look at some really awful food writers, anonymously, of course, and discuss the clichés, words and phrases to avoid at all times. Granleese is a man who has hewn beauty out of a thousand great chefs' rather lumpen copy, and he'll be there to offer proper practical advice.
1pm – Lunch
The best part of the food writer's life, and a special menu will be prepared by Mark Hix or Fergus Henderson. We'd also like you to write a 500-word review, to be discussed the following day.
3.30pm – 20 books to trust and love with your life, with Tom Parker-Bowles and Tim Hayward
I'm an obsessive food book collector, and can't even pass the most modest of charity bookshops without slipping in, hoping to find that pristine first edition of Escoffier or Hannah Glasse. Guardian food writer and obsessive culinary bibliophile Tim Hayward and I will put together a list of 20 books we feel you cannot live without, from the obvious to the rather more obscure. We'd also like you to list your top books and talk about why you love them so. This session will also take in pitching ideas to publishers.
10.30am – Blogging and self-publishing, with Tom Parker-Bowles and Tim Hayward
They say it's the future, but how does one stand out from the crowd, and rise above the general illiterate dross. There will be practical advice on contacting PRs, as well as Tim's advice on how to set up your own magazine, something he has done with huge success with Fire and Knives. What are the pitfalls? How much cash do you need? And are you mad for even contemplating the idea?
12.00pm – Passion
Fergus Henderson, Simon Hopkinson and Matthew Fort on their food heroes. I'll also talk of such food writers as MFK Fisher, AJ Liebling and Calvin Trillin. As ever, this is interactive and students will be encouraged to join in with their views.
1pm – Lunch
– Grand panel discussion with Tom Parker-Bowles, Bob Granleese, Tim
Hayward, Matthew Fort, Mark Hix, Simon Hopkinson and Fergus Henderson
I'll chair this and we'll have an open discussion about food writing, contacts, and the best places to work. The discussion is as free-ranging as it is open. This is the place to ask any of those questions from a board of real experts.
When & Where
Welcome to Guardian masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.
Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation.
Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award winning guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries.
The programme is aimed at anyone interested in personal or professional development whether that be refining your skills, focusing your ambition or simply broadening your mind and gaining inspiration.