Freelance Journalist Focus: Kevin Ashton
In today’s freelance journalist interview, we speak to food writer and chef Kevin Ashton, who gives us his recipe for freelancing success: good PRs that bring “diverse groups of people from the world of food together”. But that’s just a taster, read on for more…
About your journalism:
What do you write about?
Being a chef I write about all things food related, whether that’s a recipe of mine, a food establishment review, seasonal foodie events, cookbook reviews, important food news and the occasional celebrity chef story thrown into the “mix”.
A bit more about my background: I’m an English born chef with more than 30 years of professional experience, who has worked in Amsterdam, Bermuda and Washington DC, cooking for Presidents, Royalty and movie stars. I also do many cooking demonstrations including BBC’s Good Food Show, which keeps me in touch with the enthusiastic cooks out there. I find my cooking background is tremendously helpful when interviewing high profile chefs to put them at ease. It is also very useful when doing reviews because I understand the hard work, dedication and techniques that have gone into the dish.
Lobster and Roasted Pepper Risotto
Where are we likely to see your work?
Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters UK, Reuters USA, Yes Chef magazine, Hotline magazine and websites like Chefs.com.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
My piece for Yes Chef magazine about The Pastry World Cup that included an interview with chef Brian Turner:
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I would love to do a fly on the wall piece about how a popular TV cooking programme is put together, using my own culinary background to make the article insightful.
About you and PRs:
Where do you source ideas for articles?
From many different places including DW daily press releases, gossip from chef colleagues and issues I am passionate about such as Kids and Food.
How can PRs be useful to you?
Good PRs are skillful at bringing the diverse groups of people from the world of food together which can help create good stories, sometimes even unintended ones.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
I read many, many press releases in a day and contact them when something peaks my interest. I do give out my phone numbers but they are quickly withdrawn if someone just bombards me with stuff every day.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
I find them very useful and help give a story a human quality rather than just base an article on dry facts and figures. That said I do find that many foodie PR events are too London centric which if you happen to live in other parts of the UK forces me to “cherry pick” what invitations I accept.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
I would tell PRs to be more honest and realistic because it is better to “Under promise and over deliver” rather than the other way around.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I would go back to cooking full time though my seven-year-old daughter would not be best pleased if I worked every weekend.
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I would buy some expensive ingredients that I can’t normally afford and cook for friends and family.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
Cook books and more cookbooks followed closely by a stack of newspapers. I save novels for holidays. As for blogs I have been writing my own since February 2006 and so far it’s received over 7,500,000 page views.