WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO ENTER THE WORLD OF FOOD MEDIA? READ ON!
With social media fueling the foodie craze, careers in food media are more desired than ever. From publications and cookbooks to YouTube and other digital media outlets, food media has taken over in popularity. But breaking into this growing industry isn’t easy. It requires skills outside the kitchen, like a background in journalism, photography or film, which paired with a strong culinary arts education can help set you apart!
Take Ben Mims, 2008 graduate of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program. With a degree in communications from Mississippi State University, Ben set out to gain the culinary knowledge and professional kitchen experience that he needed to propel his dream of working in food media. Check out Ben’s journey below from culinary school to Cooking Columnist for The Los Angeles Times, and our 2019 Outstanding Alumni Award Winner for Excellence in Media!
Ben Mims received his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Mississippi State University, knowing that he would want to focus on journalism and eventually work in media. While pursuing his degree, he worked for the school’s newspaper, The Reflector, for 2 years, and spent a summer as an extern at The Vicksburg Post. It was here that he learned what a career in food media could look like.
Following graduation, Ben packed up his college life in Mississippi and moved to the Big Apple to attend ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program! During school, he interned for Jean-George’s recipe-development chef, stationed mostly at Perry Street, where he helped with prep work three nights a week.
After a few months at Jean George’s, Ben decided to jump at an opportunity to intern at Saveur magazine. He already had his degree in journalism, so this was the job that he was looking for! Eventually, he transitioned into a full-time job at Saveur as an Associate Food Editor. In this role, he helped to test recipes in the test kitchen, write stories, and research and fact-check articles.
After 5 years at Saveur, he decided to leave New York and return to restaurant kitchens in San Francisco. He got a job as the pastry chef at Bar Agricole and was there for a period before he left to focus on freelance work, developing recipes for food publications back in New York.
The following year, he landed a job as a Food Editor at Food & Wine Magazine! Here, he developed recipes for the magazine and worked on recipes for the books published in house. During this time, his first cookbook, Sweet and Southern: Classic Desserts with a Twist (Rizzoli; 2014), was published.
In 2015, he returned to Saveur as the Food Editor. Rather than working in the test kitchen, he helped to develop stories and shape the vision of the content developed. A year later, he would return to freelancing, working mostly with Food Network developing recipes, while also writing for The Wall Street Journal, GD.com, Jarry, Epicurious.com, Rachael Ray Every Day, Real Simple, Southern Living and Food52.com.
At the end of 2016, Ben took a job at fellow ICC alumnus’ David Chang’s magazine, Lucky Peach. During this time, he was the only person cooking, recipe developing and testing in the kitchen! When the magazine stopped printing in 2017, he used this as an opportunity to write his second cookbook Coconut (Short Stacks Editions, 2017).
Nearing the end of 2017, Ben joined the Tasty team at Buzzfeed as a recipe developer. Here, he was in charge of conceptualizing and producing three of their cookbooks including Tasty Ultimate: How To Cook Basically Anything (Clarkson Potter, 2018), Matcha: A Lifestyle Guide (Dovetail, 2017) and Munchies: Late-Night Meals from the World’s Best Chefs (Ten Speed Press, 2017). In addition to producing three of their cookbooks, he also wrote his third cookbook Air Fry Every Day: 75 Recipes to Fry, Roast, and Bake Using Your Air Fryer (Clarkson Potter, 2018).
In February 2019, The Los Angeles Times announced the relaunch of their stand alone food section with a few new team members—including Ben as one of the Cooking Columnists. After a year and a half at Buzzfeed, he took the opportunity to try something new and made the move from the east coast to the west. In this new role, he’s developing his own recipes and writing about ingredients, chefs, dishes, and all things food that excite him in his new home city.
Ready to join one of hottest fields in the culinary industry? Learn more about ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program where Ben gained the culinary techniques and restaurant experience to supplement his background in journalism and pursue a career in food media.