Strauss: Tasting Her Way Through Careers as a Culinary Writer

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 4, 2011

By Marinda Morgan Wood ’07

Amy Strauss ’07 developed an understanding of the business world while studying Print and Video Communications at Arcadia. She continues to use that knowledge, along with the skills and experience she’s gained, to excel in her work as a culinary writer and, as she says, taste her way through other people’s careers.

As a student, Strauss appreciated her professors’ honesty about the challenges she would face as well as their support to follow her dreams.

“One time I voiced in senior seminar my career aspirations; I wanted to work for myself, not the man. Alan Powell was honest and said, ‘you can’t just do it, you’d need a second job,’ but he didn’t pressure you to go after the nine to five for the money, he encouraged you to pursue your dreams.”

Strauss followed this advice while pursuing a freelance writing career and waitressing on the side. She discovered firsthand the unpleasant reality of working for herself.

“Being a freelancer, you have to work hard. It’s all you, contacting magazines or whatever,” she says. “I was doing that, but one day I was tired from working so hard, so I took a break from writing, but my break turned into a month. I decided I can’t do that forever, I’ll turn into a career waitress.”

Along with the support of her professors, Strauss believes that Thesis was key in preparing her for the working world, but it prepared her in ways she hadn’t expected. The hard work that went into her thesis was what equipped her for the tough reality of the job market after graduation.

“The process of hard work you put into thesis, with deadlines and stress, helps you prepare for a career, where you have pressure and deadlines. Post-college it is so easy to get discouraged—to be overwhelmed with not finding a job. But if you keep working hard, and show yourself that there is a place for you, you will find something. I believe that you have to put all that you can into the career that you want; if you have to get a second job to pay the bills do it. It’s all about working really hard.”

Thesis wasn’t the only time that Strauss had the opportunity to prove her diligence. She published more than 50 articles at her internship with Philadelphia City Paper.

“I interned as a food writer for Philadelphia City Paper. I one hundred percent believe that is why I am where I am right now. They don’t want you to do grunt work; they want you to hit the streets and get as much published as you want. It helped further my career tremendously. You can’t get into publications without experience.”

Strauss benefited from the hard work she put in at Philadelphia City Paper and as a freelance writer in getting her current position as Culinary Editorial Director for The Town Dish.

“I had written as a food writer before, and I had been out and about, so the owner of The Town Dish approached me to work for her. It’s a small company so everyone works hard together; we are a petite food army,” she says. “I love my job. I really love meeting people who make wine and then getting to enjoy their wine. It’s like you value their product more. I love the opportunity to taste my way through someone else’s career.”