Workshop Double-Bill: My Portfolio Career and The Art of Self-Publishing

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Store Street Room, 1 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7EB

Time: My Portfolio Career at 4.30pm and The Art of Self-Publishing at 6.30pm
Price: Places cost £17 for one workshop (£22 for guests), or £30 (£37 for guests) for the double-bill. A convivial glass of wine and nibbles will be served before, between and after the workshops

Event Information

The Guild is proud to present two unmissable workshops in a comfortable and convenient venue just off Tottenham Court Road.


These workshops – instigated by the Guild’s highly active Facebook Forum – are part of the Guild’s ongoing programme to hone members’ professional skills, give you the edge in today’s competitive marketplace and maximise your earning potential.


As you can imagine, it has been a mega-feat of organisation to get all this to happen on the same day in the same place, so we hope many Guild members will join us for both sessions. Places cost £17 for one workshop (£22 for guests), or £30 (£37 for guests) for the double-bill. A convivial glass of wine and nibbles will be served before, between and after the workshops. 


A note on timings: each workshop will start on time and each will last one and a half hours, including questions from the audience. Feel free to arrive half an hour early (not earlier, please).


The event will be captured on video for those who can’t make it. Details of live streaming to follow.


4.30pm My Portfolio Career

It has never been particularly easy to make ends meet as a food writer. There are precious few full-time jobs in the industry, and for most freelancers, work is intermittent and ungenerously rewarded. 


But some people manage it – by extending their skills, spotting gaps in the market, branching out, or – to put it crudely – ‘following the money’.


This is not one of those airy-fairy workshops intended to send you away in a pleasant cloud of wishes and dreams, and ideas for earning a little pin money. This is about capitalising on your skills, broadening your professional horizons and filling up your bank account. 


What personal qualities does it take to run a portfolio career? What are the first steps? Is it a question of contacts – or persistence? How much money are we talking? For how many hours a week? And don’t let’s forget the boring stuff, like licences and planning permission…

In the Chair is the Guild’s President, Orlando Murrin. Himself a survivor of various spin-off careers – by no means all successful – he has been promised frank answers by our talented panel, all of whom are Guild members.

Ghillie Basan is known by the Scottish media as ‘the Original Spice Girl’. She grew up in East Africa, where she absorbed the food of different tribes and cultures, leading to a Cordon Bleu diploma, a degree in Social Anthropology and a career as a journalist in Turkey, the Middle East, South East Asia and North Africa. She now lives in the Scottish Highlands, where she has raised her children single-handed while writing cookbooks and hosting culinary experiences. Her speciality is pairing whisky with spices, and her most recent book (with accompanying podcast) is called Spirit and Spice


What is the worst career move you ever made? ‘Thinking that I could do TV. Back in 1995 my first book, Classic Turkish Cookery, got quite a lot of media attention as it was written and photographed in my snowbound home without any electricity so I had to use a bucket for a fridge, a camp stove for cooking, and dance outside with a mirror to reflect any ray of sunlight in the sky back through the window on to the food, yet miraculously it was shortlisted for Glenfiddich and Guild of Food Writers Awards. So, Scottish TV trekked to my back door to film for a food series that I had never seen as I didn’t have a TV but I thought I would give it a go to boost my career. It was a disaster! I was wearing the same clothes for the entire shoot as I hadn’t realized the show would go out as 5 episodes each day of the week and I was so unnatural and clumsy in front of the camera that I leant over the gas flame and burnt my boobs! I decided there and then that TV was not for me.’

Charlotte Pike is a cookery writer, teacher and chef. A graduate of Ballymaloe, she has written five books, including Smoked and Fermented, which was shortlisted for the André Simon Award in 2016. Charlotte runs a hugely popular catering company, Charlotte’s Kitchen, cooking for weddings and parties throughout the UK and Europe: her clients include many famous faces and household names. She is also one of the country’s leading independent cookery teachers, and Founder and Director of food education social enterprise Field & Fork


Worst career move: ‘Loathing social media.’

Alan Rosenthal signs himself as ‘Culinary Creative’. ‘I always cooked but my food career didn’t properly start until 2008, when I joined the diploma course at Leith’s School of Food and Wine. I went on to set up my food business, stewed! selling stews in farmers markets, and then later in supermarkets and hot food kiosks. I was then commissioned to write my first cookbook by Ebury Press which then led me to start teaching at Leith’s.


‘When we wound down the business, I began working as Head of Food at Picturehouse Cinemas, in charge of their restaurants and menus. I went on to be Head of Food at Gousto, the recipe box company, before returning to full time freelancing last October. I now run monthly supperclubs and have been commissioned to write my second cookbook. I work on product development for a business selling snacks into offices and cater for private parties.


‘On the side I have also found myself writing recipes for a recipe box company in exchange for free veg, working with Havana Club rum to develop snacks to go alongside classic cocktails and I was the monthly food columnist for a couple of years at GT. Randomly I also reported for the Food Programme on jamón ibérico (of which I am a trained carver).’


Special request from Alan: ‘Please follow me on Instagram! @alan.rosenthal


Worst career move? ‘I decided to train to teach French and Spanish. It was the worst decision because it was just awful but also the best decision because it told me I definitely didn’t want to teach kids languages.’

Wendy Veale is the proprietor of The Old School bed and breakfast in Little Compton, between Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Norton, in the Cotswolds. After 20 years in food innovation, recipe writing, food photography, TV production and broadcasting (which Wendy describes as ‘fabulous’), she took the bold step into hospitality. Her establishment was named ‘The Best B&B in Europe’ by Trip Advisor in 2018. According to Wendy: ‘It’s all in the detail’. 


Worst career move? ’Being temporarily lured back into the world of a big fat monthly pay cheque, leather trimmed car and five weeks of paid holiday.’


6.30pm The Art of Self-Publishing

In this workshop we hope to explore various experiences in the self-publishing world from various points of view (author, printer, publisher) to determine the pros and cons of making the decision to pursue this choice.


Things have changed in self-publishing: at one time, self-published books were usually cheap spiral-bound affairs – now they look like ‘the real thing’. Is there is still a stigma in the writing world for those who self-publish? Is the label of ‘vanity’ still haunting such projects, or is self-publishing a legitimate way to get one’s work out in the world?


During this evening’s discussion, we’ll delve deeply into the dramatic, demanding, exciting and rewarding world of self-publishing, analysing the twin benefits and burdens of having total control over the process of creation, versus the joys and costs of having a publisher take on some of these weighty responsibilities. We will also be talking money: how much does it cost to self-publish, and having put yourself through it – was it actually worth it?

In the chair is Kristen Frederickson, Members Communications Director for the Guild, and a sadder but wiser woman for having survived her own adventure in self-publishing with her 2014 cookbook Tonight at 7.30. With her experience at hand, she will be eager to hear what the panellists bring to the table, and compere questions from the audience at the end. 


To give a flavour of things to come, Kristen asked panellists what is the worst thing about self-publishing. In her case: ‘Writing the index to my cookbook, laboriously, cross-checking every single ingredient, every single page number, just awful! Our entire household suffered for three full days. There must be a nice graduate student I can hire for next time.’

Jenny Hammerton describes herself as a film archivist and writer. In 2006, living on a houseboat, she decided to teach herself to cook. Jenny had been collecting the favourite recipes of her movie star idols for many years, so she let the great and good of Hollywood guide her. She kicked off with a large vat of Bette Davis’ Boston Baked Beans and has been eating like the stars ever since.


In 2014 she self-published a coffee table book featuring over 30 of film star Joan Crawford’s favourite recipes. The book was illustrated with images from her collection of original Joan Crawford postcards. She knew this book would be too niche for a publisher, so she designed and made the book herself using the Blurb platform.


In 2018 on the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Columbo screening on TV, she published her Cooking With Columbo cookbook. She included around 100 recipes that were favourites of Peter Falk and many of his murderous co-stars. Again, she knew this was a niche book that no publisher would take a risk on, so she published via KDP Direct.


Worst thing about self-publishing? ‘Formatting the text!’

Andrew Law is Sales Director for 1010 Printing, the printer who produced Kristen Frederickson's cookbook. He started his career working in production for educational and careers titles at Hobsons (a subsidiary of the DMGT) before moving on to work for HarperCollins. He moved across to the print side in 2003 and has work for a print broker with experience of Far East and European printing, and now works for 1010 Printing, a China-based book printer, selling their printing services to the UK market.


He has worked with numerous self-publishers, advising them and helping them to get their books printed and delivered to the UK. 

Holly Jones is co-owner of Manna from Devon Cooking School in Devon. After a degree in foreign languages and a short commission in the army, Holly headed to Leiths School of Food and Wine for its one-year course. Never one to make a plan, Holly followed her nose and ended up in beautiful south Devon running a cooking school focussing on bread, fish cooking and wood fired ovens. Now in its 14th year with 3 books published and 2 on the way, it's turned into a proper job,


Worst thing about self-publishing? ‘Having to make space for the pallets of books when they arrive, not realising quite how much room 2000 books at a time take up! Obviously, they usually arrive in a rainstorm so it's all hands to get them in and stored before they turn to papier mâché.’

Di Murrell describes herself as ‘unemployed, living by my wits, having fun, and just about to begin work on the third book.’


She has spent all of her adult life working on the waterways – carrying lime pulp for Roses, grain for Allied Mills and coal for Cadbury’s; living on them – her sons were born on barges; and writing about the waterways. The last 20 years have been spent exploring Europe in their motor barge Friesland. She came to food writing late but was spurred on, after winning the Sophie Coe prize in 2012 and praise by The Times for her blog, to write her first book Barges and Bread. Her next, A Foodie Afloat, about life on French canals seen from a cook’s eye view, is due out this spring. 


She turned to self-publishing with A Foodie Afloat because in spite of having an enthusiastic agent she was unable to find a publisher willing to take a chance on it. She understood all the reasons but had sufficient faith in herself and her book to go ahead and try self-publishing. 


She also learned quite a bit from the publishing of her first book – namely if it is to have any impact the author needs to do a great deal of self-promotion and find ways to publicise it; she felt that her publisher, other than sending out books for review, did little to get her book known. For the new book she has chosen to go with Troubador Publishing’s self-publishing arm, Matador.


Worst thing about self-publishing? ‘Taking on the responsibility for getting the whole book including manuscript, illustrations plus editing into print-ready form without any real professional help. Next time will seek more handholding at this stage. Once the pdf is delivered there is no going back.’



Places cost £17 for one workshop (£22 for guests), or £30 (£37 for guests) for the double-bill, including wine and nibbles before, between and after workshops. Workshops will start promptly at the stated time – please do not arrive more than half an hour before your workshop is due to begin.


To book your place for one or both workshops email

Getting to this Event

Store Street Room, 1 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7EB

The nearest underground stations are Goodge Street (Northern Line), Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern Lines) and Russell Square (Piccadilly Line). One Alfred Place is in a modern block off Tottenham Court Road. Although the building is large and obvious, Google maps and other apps get confused in this area, so the easiest way approach is from Tottenham Court Road. Turn into Store Street and Alfred Place is the first turning on your left. Number One – containing offices as well as the club – is the first major building on your left. For help planning your journey go to