Nourishing Your Work

The parallels between cooking and writing
Photo: iStock

Good cooking takes careful preparation. So does good writing. So it stands to reason that a chef preparing a meal is similar to an editor creating an issue of a magazine, right? On the March episode of 2Chat, Christina Barber-Just, deputy editor of Smith Alumnae Magazine, shared how her passion for cooking intersects with her role as a writer and editor. 

Here are the parallels she drew between the two:

Create a plan. Planning ahead, Christina maps out the recipes she will make each week. Similarly, she will develop a story or communication plan to help guide content development. 

Know your audience. Cooking for kids? This probably means a different meal or modifications to a meal. Writing for donors or consumers? Make sure your audience is at the core of your communications plan. 

Collaborate. We all have our expertise—in the kitchen and the workplace. Christina’s wife  is skilled in comfort food so she steps back on those nights. The most successful communications are the result of people bringing their unique expertise to the table and doing what they do best.

Craft Balance. A well planned dish is a thoughtful balance of tastes—ensuring flavors and dishes contrast and complement each other. The ability to bring different voices and talents together and encourage them to shine is the strength of a talented editor.

Marinate. Just as a steak needs to marinate, so do ideas. There will always be times when something needs to be created quickly, but you should expect a burger patty in the end.

Timing. The real skill in making a Thanksgiving dinner is in getting everything to come out at the same time. The same can be said when creating a magazine. Some stories will need a lot of time to cook, while newsier pieces can be thrown together at the end.

Embrace white space. Christina’s key tip for photographing food: Shoot on a white plate—it allows the food to standout and shine. Similarly, typography and images need white space to breathe and look their best.

In summary, nothing that we do as creatives is magic. In the kitchen or in the studio, it is all the result of thoughtful planning and hard work. 

The entire 2Chat conversation can be seen on our IGTV channel.