If overseeing photo shoots of ice cream or gourmet pizzas sounds like a dream job, then Emma Rudolph ’13 is living the dream. The communication major is an associate cookbook editor who spends her days perfecting recipes and making food look good.
Q: How would you describe your job?
A: As an associate editor on the Food & Drink team at Weldon Owen Publishing in San Francisco, Calif., I’m involved throughout the whole process of creating our cookbooks (or series). I work on everything from conceptualizing book ideas, to researching compatible titles on the market, inputting text into book design, writing parts of the book, editing the content to fit our style, entering metrics for international copies, and copy editing. When I’m not editing cookbooks, I’m working on photoshoots, where the cookbooks are photographed. Here my job requires making sure the food matches the recipes, keeping the shoot on schedule, assisting the art director in making visual decisions, and hand-modeling (yes, seriously).
RELATED: Emma edited and hand-modeled for Cook Good Food and Bake Good Things, a series that simplifies all the basic techniques for new cooks.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: There’s nothing more satisfying for an editor than holding the physical, final printed version of a book you’ve worked on from start to finish. However, tasting all the delicious food our food stylists make on photoshoots is a close second. My favorite shoot so far has been for The Ice Creamery Cookbook. A lot of people think the seemingly “perfect” images in cookbooks are fake food or photoshopped, but really they’re the result of creative cookbook authors, talented food stylists, and skilled photographers. Trust me, if the food was fake, my job would be a lot less fun.
Q: Did you plan to land in the food world?
A: During my sophomore year at the College of Charleston, I moved into Warren Place and had access to my first very own kitchen (outside of my family’s home). I fell in love with cooking and creating recipes and I started a college food blog called nevernothungry.com.
My interest in the food world grew and I landed a summer internship at Food Network in Manhattan, where I edited recipes and worked on the set of Iron Chef. After that I began an internship with Leite’s Culinaria, where I worked as a freelance editor and recipe tester.
Q: Were those internships helpful?
A: Yes, I think my internships, as well as other freelance writing jobs along the way, set me up for a career in the food world. The professional experience section on my resume was strong and I attribute a lot of my editorial education, knowledge of food, and workplace confidence to my time interning.
Q: How did you decide to be a cookbook editor?
A: When I graduated, I was dead-set on returning to Food Network in Manhattan, but they didn’t have any editorial job openings, so I applied for editorial jobs at culinary magazines, websites, and publishing houses. When I first heard about the job at Weldon Owen, I emailed my resume and cover letter immediately, and followed up via email daily until I got a response. I had one phone interview and one Skype interview with the women who are now my two bosses. Meanwhile, I was still actively following up with the other companies I’d applied to because I figured it couldn’t hurt to have backups, and to be networking in the industry I wanted to form a career in.
In the end, I moved across the country to a city where I knew almost no one, in an industry (publishing) I knew very little about, and discovered that both San Francisco and cookbook editing are the perfect fit for me.
I learned it’s easy to have a dream plan – or to feel completely lost about the future – but the more experiences you have and the more you allow your world to be expanded, the greater your chances are of finding that perfect fit.
Q: What advice would you offer current students?
A: Intern and volunteer as much as possible! There’s nothing more valuable than experience for both landing a future job and helping you realize what you want to do with your life.
When I interned at Food Network I still had no clue what it was I really wanted to do in the future. Through that internship I learned I made a great recipe editor—something I would’ve been unaware of had I not taken a chance in saying yes to that internship.
Also, I can’t stress enough the importance of having different experiences while you’re in school, especially for students who aren’t sure of what they’d like to do after graduation. Besides helping you find your passion, internships also lead to potential jobs in-house or carry weight in job interviews elsewhere. I think students will be surprised by how many paid internships are available now.