Sound Bites Webinar Series

Although AFJ is an international organization, we believe in bringing our members to the same table to explore best practices in freelancing; food trends and professional development. 

Sound Bites webinars are generally free to the public. AFJ members can access the recordings. Occasionally we offer special webinar events that are only available to members in good standing. Email Amanda C. Miller for details.

AFJ Sound Bites webinars are free and open to all. RSVP here.


How to make your Mexican restaurant reviews better with gustavo arellano Weds., Dec. 11, 1:30 - 2 p.m. EDT; 10:30 - 11 a.m. PST

Gustavo Arellano is a features reporter for the Los Angeles Times and author of the 2012 book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. He was the only reporter in the world to defend Donald Trump's preference for taco salads.

Go beyond the tacos and margaritas and learn how to write Mexican restaurant reviews that resonate with history, politics and fiesta (don't use that word ever in a review, please). The guy who literally wrote the book on Mexican food in the United States will teach this workshop based on his 20-year career as a reporter covering Mexican food and 40-year lifetime as a Mexican who likes Mexican food.


AFJ members can access recordings of past webinars via the afj member portal.

Social Media secrets of a cookbook hustler with andrea nguyen, Weds., Aug. 28, 1:30 - 2 p.m., EDT; 10:30 - 11 a.m. PST

Andrea Nguyen is an author, freelance writer, editor, cooking instructor and consultant. The Pho Cookbook, her fifth, won a 2018 James Beard Cookbook Award. Her most recent cookbook, Vietnamese Food Any Day was published in February 2019 and is already in its second printing. Book sales have been driven by many factors, including Nguyen's Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds, which are loaded with practical tips and cultural insights, plus endearing photos of cooking with her family. She recently shared her top tips on making this hard work seem effortless to her league of followers and loyal fans.

Christmas [cookies!] in July, Thursday, July 25, 1:30 - 2 p.m., EDT

Ever toyed with the idea of hosting a cookie contest? Lee Svitak Dean and Rick Nelson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune have produced an annual reader holiday cookie contest since 2003, and will share the processes they’ve devised over the years to successfully produce this very popular feature – for both print and online platforms -- from sorting entries to staging events.

Last year, Dean and Nelson transformed 15 years of cookie contest content into “The Great Minnesota Cookie Book,” published by the University of Minnesota Press, nominated for a 2019 IACP award in the category “Compilations”.

How to Fact-Check a Chef with Tracie McMillan, Weds. MAY 15, 1:30 - 2 P.M. EDT

How can you check if a restaurant treats workers well? Tracie McMillan, who helped Food & Wine create its inaugural “Great Restaurants to Work For” list, will walk you through core questions to ask and the easy-to-get public documents that can help you figure it out. McMillan is an award-winning investigative journalist and author of the 2012 NYT Bestseller, The American Way of Eating @TMMcMillan

Words I would never use in a review with Soleil Ho, restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, Weds. March 20, 1:30 - 2:00 P.M. EDT

Owing to a mixture of myth, prejudice and marketing, food writing in particular is often victim to strange verbiage that fails to describe accurately or fairly. One of my great hopes with my own writing is for it to better reflect and respect the way real people live in the world. Some might call this self-censorship or being too politically correct. But, as a writer, I think that pretending that word choice doesn’t matter would undermine my whole profession. In this webinar, I’ll talk about the words I won’t use in my reviews and why.

Soleil Ho is the restaurant critic for the SF Chronicle.

Calling out your city’s restaurant scene: Pointers from Devra First and John Kessler, Weds., FEB. 27, 1:30 - 2:00 p.m. EDT

Hometown boosters are proud of the restaurants in Chicago and Boston, but awards boards and the national media have come away from both cities unimpressed. John Kessler and Devra First both recently called upon their long experience as critics to analyze the situations, risking the ire of the chefs they cover and the readers they serve by telling hard truths.

In this conversation, John and Devra will talk about ways to fairly and comprehensively take on the community you cover; how to avoid clickbait charges; methods for dealing with the inevitable backlash and the art of crafting follow-up pieces.” Assigned reading: How Chicago’s Dining Scene Lost its Mojo, from Chicago Magazine, and Why Don’t Boston Restaurants Win National Awards?, from The Boston Globe.

This webinar features the two critics in conversation as they examine where their cities fall short and how they can improve. 

Backgrounding sources with marisa kwiatkowski, Weds., Jan. 30, 1:30 - 2:00 p.m. EDT

Marisa Kwiatkowski is an investigative reporter for The Indianapolis Star. She handles investigations relating to social services and welfare issues, including child abuse and neglect, poverty, elder abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence and access to mental health services. Marisa has earned more than 50 journalism awards, including IRE's Tom Renner Award, a Sigma Delta Chi Award in public service, the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award and Indiana Journalist of the Year. Prior to The Star, Marisa worked for media outlets in northwestern Indiana, South Carolina and Michigan.

This webinar will cover some basic and more advanced tools for completing background checks on sources. Get tips on when and how to complete such a search.

Celebrating African Heritage Cuisines in the U.S. with Adrian Miller - THURSDAY, December 6, 1:30 - 2:00 p.m. EST

Adrian Miller is a graduate of Stanford University and Georgetown University Law School.  After practicing law in Denver for several years, Adrian became a special assistant to President William Jefferson Clinton and the Deputy Director of the President’s Initiative for One America.  The President’s Initiative for One America was the first free-standing White House office in history to examine and focus on closing the opportunity gaps that exist for minorities in this country. The One America office built on the foundation laid by the President’s Initiative on Race by promoting the President’s goals of educating the American public about race, and coordinating the work of the White House and federal agencies to carry out the President’s vision of One America.

Adrian is also a culinary historian and a certified barbecue judge who has lectured around the country on such topics as: Black Chefs in the White House, chicken and waffles, hot sauce, kosher soul food, red drinks, soda pop, and soul food.  Adrian’s book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time was published by the University of North Carolina Press in August 2013. Soul Food won the 2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship. His most recent book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas was nominated for a 2018 NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Literary Work–Non-Fiction.”

August 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans arriving in Virginia. In this webinar, James Beard Award-winning author Adrian Miller will share several ways that you, as food writers, can commemorate the culinary legacy of that tragic historical moment in our nation's history.

Adrian Miller. Learn more about the Soul Food Scholar at .

Adrian Miller. Learn more about the Soul Food Scholar at


Nikita Richardson is a staff writer at New York Magazine's Grub Street blog. Her work has appeared in Bloomberg BusinessweekEntrepreneurBon AppetitFast Company and Brooklyn Magazine. In her spare time, she hosts bar trivia in Bushwick and plays the violin in the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra

Richardson's webinar will be a discussion of the lack of black visibility in food media and the  inspiration for her recent article, "Where Are All The Black Restaurant Critics?". She'll talk about the genesis of the idea for the article, which came after she made the transition from a business magazine with a diverse team to the largely-white food world. There will be a focus on the idea of diversity versus equity, an overview of the current state of food media, and how hiring practices and internal culture can be changed to make food media a more welcoming place for people of color on staff. 

anna roth, content strategy for food journalists, a two-part webinar - july 11 and august 1

Anna Roth is a content strategist at Google, a freelance writer in New York and an AFJ member. In past lives, she's written restaurant reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle and SF Weekly, a book on West Coast road food, and more food features, listicles and trend pieces than she can count. Last year, she received last year's AFJ award for Best Food Essay.

Anna's webinars will focus on what you need to know about content strategy, a growing field in the tech industry that draws on many of the same skills as journalism — reporting, researching, interviewing, writing, planning coverage — but doesn't require complicated programming know-how. Anna will talk about her transition from full-time journalist to content strategist and how she's been able to leverage her skills and experience in the tech world. The goal is to help you walk away with the vocabulary and confidence to start tapping into those tech industry dollars, whether it's finding consulting clients or a job in-house.

Webinar 1: Weds., July 11, 1:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. - What is content strategy? How do I break into it? And do I need to go back to school for it?   

  • Here are the major skills you need as a content strategist (project management, content at scale, data analysis, storytelling, etc.)

  • Experience it helps to have (work with product teams, understanding of basic SEO and content marketing, copy writing, whatever)

  • But even if you don't have all that experience you can still get a job, we'll cover that in the next session!

Webinar 2: Weds., Aug. 1, 1:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. - Practical tools for getting into content strategy

  • Resume keywords to use

  • Keywords to use when searching for jobs

  • How to craft your story in an interview even without a ton of digital experience

  • Technical skills you may want to take a course in if you want to go deeper, like UX research

Susan DoSier - wednesday, may 23, 1:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. EDT

Want more visits to your website? Act like you're in high school. Whether you’re at a major newspaper, blogging, freelancing or leading culinary trips abroad, your website has a secret life behind the pretty pictures on your home page. We’ll talk about three ways to achieve higher organic search rankings (that means your site or blog comes up higher in the list of search results — and more people see you). Susan will give you a way to think about what search engines look for and how you can improve your website in three concrete ways. And she promises to use language you can actually understand. This isn’t about writing catchy headlines for your stories (although that helps)….it’s about the “bones” and web strategy that support those stories.

Susan Dosier is an 18-year veteran journalist turned PR and marketing pro. In 2005, Susan voluntarily left her role of executive editor at Southern Living to return home to her beloved North Carolina. She served as PR Director of LKM, working primarily with the Visit North Carolina Tourism program. The changing media landscape and her ongoing learning about how websites, social media and advertising work together profoundly shaped her approach to media relations. Today, as President of DK Communications Group she represents The Asbury and The Dunhill Hotel in Uptown Charlotte, Heart of North Carolina Tourism (home to the NC Zoo and the Pottery Capital of the USA), two South Carolina tourism districts and more.

Silvia Killingsworth - Wednesday, April 25

Silvia Killingsworth is an editor and writer living in Brooklyn. She is the series editor of Houghton Mifflin's Best American Food Writing for 2018 and 2019. She was the editor of The Awl and The Hairpin, and before that she was the managing editor of The New Yorker, where she wrote restaurant reviews for the magazine's Tables for Two section.

Silvia plans to address some of the socioeconomic blind spots we have when we talk about food; specifically what it means to "eat well," and how much that actually costs, not just in terms of money but also in time, nutritional education, and government subsidies. The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) is under increasing scrutiny, with proposed changes limiting choice and access. The obesity epidemic in poor communities is a uniquely American conundrum, and the movement towards health-conscious eating has largely only changed the eating habits of the country's wealthiest citizens. It's worth talking not just about what food we should eat but whether we can all eat it.

amanda kludt, editor in chief of eater - WEdnesday, january 31, 2018

Just how far have we come since 'The Gods of Food'? In November 2013, Time magazine published a special issue titled the “Gods of Food" that listed 13 “Gods,” a chef’s family tree, and a series of articles about the key “influencers” in food today. No female chefs or restaurateurs made the “Gods” list, nor were any included in the modern restaurant lineage. Outrage followed, but are we any better off when it comes to the recognition of female chefs in 2018 than we were in 2013? This examination, through 28 pie charts, hopes to answer that question.

Amanda Kludt is the Editor in Chief of Eater, a publication covering the ins and outs of dining and food in America and around the world. Through original reporting, longform journalism, maps and guides, reviews, and video, Eater informs its audience on the latest news, tells them where to eat and drink, and highlights important issues facing the world of restaurants. Before Eater, Kludt worked at Gridskipper and Metro. She has contributed to Lucky Peach, Cherry Bombe, The Guardian, and others.

inclusive storytelling for food writers - tuesday, december 12, 2017

Join AFJ for "Inclusive Storytelling for Food Writers with Nieman Foundation Fellow Tristan Ahtone," on Tuesday, December 12, at 1:30 p.m. 

Drawing from personal experience and his current work on how to improve coverage of Indigenous communities, Ahtone will spend twenty minutes sharing tips and resources for culinary journalists regarding inclusive storytelling best practices. 

Tristan Ahtone is a New Mexico-based journalist and a contributing editor with High Country News’ Tribal Affairs desk. He has reported for “PBS NewsHour,” “National Native News,” Wyoming Public Radio, NPR and Al Jazeera America. Ahtone’s stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Gannett Foundation. He additionally was part of the Al Jazeera team that received a Delta Chi Award in 2015. A member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, he is currently a fellow with the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University studying how to improve coverage of Indigenous communities with a particular focus on creating ethical guidelines, protocols and codes of conduct. 

Please RSVP to Amanda Miller and include your professional title and affiliation as well as any other information our speaker may use to better understand the audience. Please let us know if you have specific points you would like Ahtone to address, keeping in mind he will do his best to work within the brief time allocated. 

FOOD WRITERS in the legal jungle - october 25, 2017

AFJ is pleased to welcome author Joy R. Butler as the host of our next Sound Bites webinar. Butler is a Washington, DC-based media, technology, and licensing attorney who excels at explaining complicated legal issues in understandable terms and proposing practical solutions to business problems. Ms. Butler’s book publications include The Permission Seeker's Guide Through the Legal Jungle: Clearing Copyrights, Trademarks and Other Rights for Entertainment and Media Productions, recently updated and expanded for 2017. She also regularly blogs on media and intellectual property law issues at

This webinar will address legal issues of interest to food journalists including:

  • how food journalists can protect their original material (with an emphasis on available protection for recipes);

  • when and how food journalists can permissibly incorporate quotes, images, and real people into their writing; and

  • how to determine when bad reviews and online snarking cross the line into actionable defamation.

This webinar took place Wednesday, October 25.


Writing a mouthful: Incorporating Diverse Voices in food journalism with author AdRIAN Miller

We are looking forward to Adrian Miller hosting the next AFJ webinar on Friday, August 11th at 1:30pm EST. Miller is the author of The President's Kitchen Cabinet. He'll lead us through a presentation on diversity in food journalism in his webinar, "Writing a Mouthful: Incorporating Diverse Voices in Food Journalism". Miller plans to address points like incorporating people of color into reporting stories, reaching diverse audiences and identifying implicit bias. August 11, 2017

Photography credit - Felicia Perry with Food Seen Photography

Photography credit - Felicia Perry with Food Seen Photography

10 Steps to capturing a great image

What does the floor, a spoon or a shutter have to do with food photography? Just about everything. Professional food photographer Felicia Perry with Food Seen Photography broke down how to beautifully capture culinary subjects in ten simple steps. May 12, 2017


FInding food stories in public records

Find food news hiding in plain sight! In this webinar, former food editor (Grub Street/New York Magazine) and current journalism professor Aileen Gallagher helped attendees navigate municipal government and public records. Attendees learned how to get the most news out of public meetings and filings from city zoning and planning boards. March 3, 2017

Banner photography credit -