RoadFood Author Jane Stern to Teach a Course in Food Writing at GCC

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Students with a passion for food—and writing about it—soon will have an opportunity to learn from the best. This January, famed food writer and best-selling author Jane Stern will teach a course entitled Special Topics: Food Writing at Gateway Community College. According to Stern, it may just be the “first really democratic food writing course” - open to anyone who has a particular passion about food and would like to find a voice and a mode of expression for writing about it.

The one pre-requisite: “You have to have eaten food in your lifetime.” Students don’t have to be chefs, amateur or otherwise; they don’t have to have read the last dozen issues of Gourmet magazine either. They simply have to want to tell stories about food.

“I am a food writer. I am not a chef. Every pie crust I’ve ever made looks like a saddle,” Stern laughed. Indeed, she has been writing about food for almost 40 years and is author of more than 30 books including the best-selling and beloved RoadFood series.

“I’m just incredibly excited to be teaching this course at Gateway because I think when food writing is taught at universities, it’s a very elitist thing. It pre-supposes that students know everything there is to know about food, food history, organic food, farm-to-table, all the buzzwords,” Stern said. “I’m looking for students who aren’t going to be spouting what everyone else is spouting. Instead, they can go back to their roots, to the cooking they loved and to tell their stories.”

Special Topics: Food Writing will be offered at GCC on Tuesdays from 5:15 p.m. to 8:05 p.m. It is an English course for credit. Aspiring restaurant critics, food bloggers, story tellers, people looking to break into the non-fiction market, those who simply want to find a way to write about food will all find a place in her classroom, Stern said. With the ever-expanding social media market and a growing need for content, talented food writers are in demand.

Stephen Fries, GCC professor and coordinator of Hospitality Management Programs said, “To have someone of Jane Stern’s stature teaching food writing at Gateway is amazing. We are very fortunate.”

In addition to the more than 30 books about food, travel and popular culture, Sterns has written a memoir, Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself by Becoming an EMT, which was made into a television movie starring Kathy Bates. She and her former husband Michael Stern are long-time collaborators. Their interactive website,, averages more than four million page views a month and has been selected as “Site of the Year” by The Sterns have written for The New Yorker, Gourmet and The Atlantic Monthly and they appear weekly on NPR's "The Splendid Table."  Winners of a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award, they have also been inducted into the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America.

Writing about food is always interesting, Stern said, and challenging too. “The best food writing is never generic; it is personal. It doesn’t matter if you are writing about a hamburger or the most cutting edge molecular cuisine; you have to seduce the reader into being as excited as you are to read more.”