I’m a Food Editor and These Are the Best (and Worst) Things I’ve Ever Had to Do for My Job

It’s a sweet gig…mostly

best and worst food editor tasks: photographer, peppermint-nutella meringues and chicken nuggets on a baking sheet, side by side
Candace Davison/K.C. Tinari/Taryn Pire

If you’re a foodie who loves to write as much as you love to cook, bake and eat, being a food editor might just be your dream job. And we can’t lie—it’s pretty awesome. You get to immerse yourself in all things delicious for 40 hours a week, and often taste the subject matter firsthand. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbow sprinkles. Sometimes you need to bake a zillion temperature-sensitive meringues on the hottest day of the year, or taste more than 20 different hot dog brands in one day for a review (more on that later). Here, our food editors share their personal highs and lows of working in food media.

10 Condiments That Our Editors Put on *Everything*, from Truffle Mayo to Hot Honey

best and worst food editor tasks: recipe shoots
Candace Davison

1. Best: Running Original Recipe Shoots

“I adore working on recipe shoots. Whether it’s at an editor’s home or in our test kitchen, it’s beyond fun to see our ideas brought to life by a professional photographer. After many rounds of testing, tasting and tweaking, it’s so rewarding to share our original dishes with each other and communally nosh on the fruits of our labor. Sharing them on the site with our readers is the cherry on top.” Taryn Pire, Food Editor

2. Worst: Timing Video Shoots Just Right

“Making sure the food looks fresh can be stressful. I once had back-to-back shoots and the first ran late, so I had to run downstairs and stall the talent for the second shoot as our videographer scrambled to set up. During this time, we forgot that the beauty shot of the casserole we were baking was still in the oven...and it exploded. I had to apologize profusely to the on-camera talent and convince her team to stay as we hurried to fix the final product.” Candace Davison, VP of Editorial

3. Best: Helping People Become Better Cooks

“I genuinely adore making someone’s life easier by helping them in the kitchen. To me, dicing an onion is old hat...but a basic trick for me can be a life-changer for someone else, and that’s really rewarding to watch.” Katherine Gillen, Senior Food Editor

best and worst food editor tasks: product testing, various brands of chicken nuggets on a parchment-lined baking sheet
Taryn Pire

4. Worst: Taste-Testing Too Much of One Thing

“I’ve tried zillions of products for our PureWow100 vertical, which houses our editor-tested reviews. Vegan cream cheese, store-bought pizza dough, gravy, instant mashed potatoes, chicken nuggets, margarita mix—you name it, I’ve tasted it. Most challenging of all was our hot dog roundup. For the article’s first iteration, I tried at least one bite of 40 hot dogs—half grilled, half boiled—in one sitting. Could I have spread out the taste-tests to spare my G.I. tract? Sure, but I find it easier to accurately review when tasting products back-to-back. Luckily, my hard work is rewarded every summer, as this article consistently performs (people have feelings about their favorite franks).” – Taryn Pire, Food Editor

5. Best: Interviewing Cooks from All Walks of Life

“Be it a Michelin-starred chef sharing how he spatchcocks a chicken or the baker with a longer line than the rides at the Minnesota State Fair, it’s an incredible way to learn new techniques, approaches and flavor combinations. It’s been more valuable (and rewarding) than any culinary class I’ve taken. I’m so in awe of the talent and creativity I get to witness.” – Candace Davison, VP of Editorial

6. Worst: Being Asked What My Favorite Restaurant Is

“I get it, many people don’t know what the job of a food editor entails. But I’m actually not a restaurant critic, and my work has little to do with eating out! So, when someone asks me what my favorite restaurant is in the context of my job, I’m always, IDK? (Not to mention, I don’t make the big bucks to be eating out in NYC every night.)” – Katherine Gillen, Senior Food Editor

7. Best: Tackling TikTok and Food Photography as a Newbie

“This one’s a mixed bag: Figuring out TikTok, food styling and how to take stellar photos on an iPhone can be a lot—but it’s fun and gratifying if you have the patience. My first foray into food photography was for a recipe series of midnight snacks. I quickly learned that so much more goes into staging and shooting than people realize (spritz those apples with lemon before they brown! snap a pic of that tuna melt before the cheese sweats! hurry, the ice cream on the bananas foster is melting!). But somehow, simultaneously, simplicity is key (ease up on the props, natural light is your friend). As for TikTok, I cooked a handful of dishes from my abuelita’s recipe book and shared the experience through video. Doing her food justice made it worth all the troubleshooting.” – Taryn Pire, Food Editor

8. Worst: Testing Not-So-Savory New Food Products

“Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get sent a new product that’s totally delish. But more often than not, it’s a gimmicky dud, like, oddly flavored potato chips or chocolate hummus or healthy soda. And why is everything sweetened with stevia? Ugh.” – Katherine Gillen, Senior Food Editor

9. Best: Readers Actually Making Our Recipes

“When people email you to show you how they’ve made your recipes and what an impact it had on their kids’ birthday, a family reunion or another get-together. Just knowing that someone felt inspired enough to go out and make what you suggested—and that in some small way, you contributed to their party—is so fulfilling. I really love making ridiculous, pop culture-inspired treats, and every Halloween through Christmas, I love getting tagged in people’s photos of my leg lamp cookies, Bluey-inspired cake or Hocus Pocus-inspired s’mores pops.” – Candace Davison, VP of Editorial

best and worst food editor tasks: recipe testing, three peppermint-nutella meringues on a plate next to a green linen and small spatula
Photo: KC Tinari/Styling: Taryn Pire

10. Worst: Baking a Million Meringues in 95-Degree Heat

“Non-writers may not realize that seasonal content is often prepared months in advance. Such was the case with PureWow’s Cookie Issue. While it launched in December, we developed our recipes in the spring and tested them all summer until finally shooting the final versions in July. My coquito macaroons were a breeze to prepare, but those damn peppermint-Nutella meringues were a challenge. Not only was 2023 literally the hottest summer on record (and meringues are very finicky when it comes to temperature), but I’d also just moved to Philadelphia days before the shoot. I was digging through boxes to find ingredients and dealing with a finnicky electric oven that only fit one of my baking sheets. Needless to say, I was baking literally the entire day…but the results? So worth it.” – Taryn Pire, Food Editor

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...