Why what you write, share and cook matters…

Kate Underwood, winner of the ‘Emerging Food Communicator of the Year’ relates her observations of an industry she grows to love more every day.

Just before I jetted off to Europe and the UK for another culinary escapade, I somehow found myself in the possession of a beautiful bespoke hunk of NZ rimu with the words ‘Emerging Food Communicator of the Year’, engraved into the exquisite grain. It was both a complete shock and an absolute honour. Particularly to be acknowledged within an industry I love, amongst colleagues and peers that I deeply respect and admire.

On the night I spoke about the influence, inspiration and support I had received from a few key individuals (special shout out to Glenda Gourley, Vicki Ravlich Horan and Angela Clifford) who took a punt on me as the young naïve writer that I was – and still am! These ladies provided me with the opportunity and platform to have my work in print, for which I will be forever grateful.

But along this wild and albeit relatively short food-writing journey, the game changer for me has honestly been being exposed to this community of food writers and communicators. During my first few events I vividly recall being so intimidated by the skill and talent in the room that I said a maximum of three words at each event. But it’s the positive encouragement and fascinating exposure to so many roles and opportunities that has motivated me to attempt to construct a career in this exciting space.

What I’ve come to learn is that the realities of this often dubbed ‘glamorous’ job can be isolating, lonely and downright disheartening. Spending countless hours alone in a kitchen, tapping away at a laptop, creating excessive amounts of content and sharing an opinion – can often have us wondering if anyone actually cares about what we cook, eat or say. But as someone who watched and admired from the sidelines for a number of years, I’m here to assure you – it matters!

Although the landscape may have changed, your influence as a food communicator still remains and is arguably more powerful than ever. In this illustrious land of social media, we now have our own unique platforms from which to speak – a free (hallelujah!), substantial and open space with which to offer our opinion, to share a slice of ourselves and our plates with the world. A place to educate, dispel myths, influence behaviour and unearth a deeper understanding around food and consumption both within New Zealand and beyond.

In a time where space and budgets are tight and real estate for content is limited, we must also remember that to speak of and about food, the one thing we all have to consume every single day, is a position of privilege and something I hope we as individuals and an industry never take for granted.

As for what’s next for me, honestly I don’t really know! But for now I’m doing my best to learn, eat, explore my voice and be exposed to as many facets of the food/communication/media industry as I can. I’m open to opportunities (feel free to hit me up if you have any!?) and am looking forward to seeing where all those delicious future food memories are still to be relished.

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