Always Learning … a Food Writing Workshop with Diana Henry

Mr Deli loves to scribble his thoughts. His musings can be found in the Deli blog and our weekly newsletters. But the need to keep improving saw him heading to London recently to seek some food writing inspiration from renowned authors Diana Henry and Mark Diacono. Here, he tries to catch the mood without sounding like he’s tried too hard to impress the inspiring writers he was learning from!

There’s an energy that comes from pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.

The nervous flutter that comes from stepping out of the shade and into the dazzling light of those whose work you admire. There’s a frisson of excitement – and a hint of doubt – that comes from putting yourself ‘out there’, a little exposed, a touch vulnerable, a smidge uncertain.

But you never evolve if you stay in the safe wrap of what you already know. There’s nothing to be learnt in doing the same things in the same way. There’s very little inspiration in peering in on the world you’ve already created, the world that matches your skills, experience and aptitude.

So, Mr Deli finds himself in the calming oasis that is The Garden Museum next to Lambeth Palace, a short step from the heaving metropolis of London Town, but a whole world away.

The occasion: a workshop run by established – lauded even – food writers Diana Henry and Mark Diacono. Daunted? You betcha!

There’s been this ‘thing‘, Mr Deli taking a journey from the conformities and strictures of public service life; a little personal voyage of discovery to seek out his creative gene. His scribbles are a roadmap to the freedoms of self-expression; writing for personal pleasure, not necessarily for public approval.

But when the words provide an opportunity to shout up for others, to celebrate the handpicked food producers we work with, they have to have meaning. The words have to have value or the advocacy lacks credibility. So they’re words that mean a lot to Mr Deli; even if he’s not yet a writer, he’s got things to write about.

And so, sat at the table, presented with a writing challenge, his fingers hover nervously above the keyboard. A short piece – a worry bead, a nagging piece of self-doubt … what the heck am I doing here?

Actively Seeking Inspiration

At the table …

I am at the table, deep in lively debate with myself 
about whether I am an imposter.

Published authors, food writers, commentators on 
matters of the culinary heart … 
makers, journalists, columnists, influencers … 
photographers whose images 
paint a thousand words.

And me.

A library of books and articles, 
arraigned before me in human form.

Food experts, lovers of food, masters 
and mistresses of recipes and flavours … 
curators of food past, present and future.

And me.

There are the talented folk who have 
made their mark in their first careers, 
taking tentative – but confident – steps into 
whatever is their ‘what next’. 
The barrister, the restaurateur, the preserve 
maker and the truffle huntress … 
there’s a truffle huntress, dammit. 
Interesting folk at every turn.

Cookery schools have taken a pause to 
release their inspiring owners; 
food businesses will have to wait a day 
for advice from their mentors; 
the heat has been turned down on macaroons 
and award-winning salted caramel sauce 
so the entrepreneur behind them can add words 
to the story already written.

And there’s me.

I scribble a bit. Blog a bit. 
Produce notes to champion others.

I’m in a room full of writers … and me.

I’m at the table, actively seeking inspiration.