Writer Name: Kate Heddings
Location: New York, NY
Years of Experience: 20+
Available for writing projects: Yes
Niche/Beat/Genre: All things involving food and/or words: recipe writing and editing, story/article writing, research, product tastings, and the like!
Favorite food: Maryland steamed crabs
Writing tip for fellow writers: Know your topic well and the writing will follow. Also, if you’re struggling, don’t think too hard about the quality of the words. Just get something on paper and fix it all later!
Kate Heddings got her start in the test kitchens of Saveur and Martha Stewart Living, eventually transitioning to an editor for Food & Wine. Today, she's got two books under her belt and continues to write food blogs, bios and recipes.
How did you get started in writing?
I didn’t want to be writing that much when I started my career in food media. I really just wanted to be cooking in test kitchens (I started by interning at Saveur, then went to work in the kitchens at Martha Stewart Living), but after doing that for a few years, I naturally progressed into food writing, and it just kept going from there. As a food editor at Food & Wine, I had to write a good bit.
What area of writing do you specialize in now? Tell us about your books.
I’m pretty versatile in the food space, having written about chefs, pastry chefs, artisans, cookbooks, food products, lifestyle, and much more over the course of my career.
I’ve also been writing a lot of bios for food folks, and I’ve taken on some food blog ghost-writing gigs too. I’m also a deft recipe editor/writer and headnote maven, so I love helping people out with that.
This past October, I co-authored The Good Book of Southern Baking: A Revival of Biscuits, Cakes, and Cornbread with the wonderful chef Kelly Fields.
I also wrote my own quirky game book where the main puzzle is to find mistakes that I’ve purposely inserted into recipes! It’s called Hungry Games. It also includes foodie word searches and crosswords. I am co-authoring three other chef-driven cookbooks that will be published in the future.
What’s your advice for struggling new writers?
Gosh, it’s hard. I’d say to try and write about that which you’re most passionate, but also be open to taking on all sorts of writing opps that come your way. I wasn’t really keen on writing bios, but I needed the work, and once I started doing those, I learned so much!
What's been your biggest professional struggle over the years?
Leaving Food & Wine after 17 years hit me hard.
My position was moved from NYC to Birmingham, and so my time was up. I loved working there and the adjustment afterwards was difficult. I learned to be open to all kinds of projects and to appreciate that every opportunity offers something.
I still miss my colleagues a lot, but I’m doing all kinds of cool work, and that’s exciting.
How is your relationship with food affected by you being a writer, or vice versa?
Well, to be candid, I wasn’t very healthy during my long tenure working full-time in magazines. I love eating and I love all kinds of food.
At Food & Wine, I had to taste and comment on every single recipe cooked in the Test Kitchen, and over the years (as fun as that was), it took a toll.
I’ve become much more measured in my eating now that I’m freelance. I adore cooking, so I am in the kitchen all of the time, sometimes testing recipes from books I’m working on, but mostly just making delicious recipes I find online.
Do you have any favorite books that you would recommend?
Aside from the books that I authored (haha), I refer to The Joy of Cooking regularly. I actually love new cookbooks, because I think there are always new ideas and smart things that inspire me in them.
Any favorite kitchen products?
I cannot live without my nine sets of kitchen tongs (this is not an exaggeration), my eight colorful GIR spatulas, my kitchen scale, and my nonstick skillet, in which I make an omelet every morning.
Favorite food writers or chefs?
I have so many friends in this space that I’m reluctant to pick favorites.
What do you snack on when you’re on deadline?
If I’m trying to be healthy, I eat a lot of fruit and balance that with something salty, like roasted edamame or Pop Corners (I have a weakness for the salted ones).