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My WriteIt! 2009 Experience

Justin Gruss (26/10/2009)

'The whole experience has actually now inspired me to write my own cookbook with my brother' declares Justin, Write-It!'s second winner.

I decided to enter the Guild of Food Writers’ annual WriteIt! competition as a way to combine my love of food with the fact that I am currently studying English Literature at A-level. What’s more, after reading about the competition on the Guild’s website, I relished the chance to meet the judges Charles Campion who I have often watched on TV, as well as Alex James of Blur who actually used to attend my school, Bournemouth School for Boys. After days and days of pondering upon which topic I should write about, I finally decided to recall a fond memory from my childhood, this being             Justin Gruss receiving his WriteIt! Prize from Charles Campion
my first trip to the Costa del Sol
in Spain. It was an experience which really opened my eyes to the world of food and its enrapturing delights.
When I received a call from the Guild’s President, Jane Suthering, telling me that I’d actually won, I couldn’t believe my luck. I’m normally not the sort of person who wins competitions, yet finally luck had come my way. I was delighted just to have won the competition and the added bonus of receiving a brand new laptop. However, when I found out I would be attending the Guild’s Presentation evening at the Lincoln’s Inn, I think my mum was even more excited than I was.
On the night of the prize giving, my mum and I just made it in time to the event with minutes to spare (travelling from Bournemouth to Lincoln’s Inn took a lot longer than we’d anticipated). On arrival, we were quickly ushered into the audience as the host, Bill Buckley, began the ceremonies. Still in a state of shock at the grandeur of Lincoln’s Inn, I felt like a small child who had just walked into a sweet shop.
As I finished scanning the room, I caught sight of the man who was to be the highlight of my evening (apart from receiving a brand new laptop of course). Standing literally a couple of metres away from me was Heston Blumenthal, one of my cookery heroes. I had seen all his shows and now to see him in person standing so close to me was unreal.
Before I had much longer to take in the surroundings though, it was time for me to receive my prize from Charles Campion. This was probably the most nerve-wracking experience of the whole evening for me as I had to go up onto the stage in front of a hundred or so of the top food critics, journalists and food people in the country.
After receiving my prize, it was time for the more high-profile awards presented by the legendary Egon Ronay. I was fascinated to hear about how much is currently going on in the world of food; Egon Ronay’s speech has really made me appreciate the growing importance and influence of food writers. 
As the prize giving finished, I was quickly made to feel like a real, best-selling food writer. Journalists, members of the guild and others came to congratulate me on my achievement. It was a real honour and even managed to distract me from the delicious array of canapés that were on offer courtesy of Alaska seafood. I even got my chance to have a quick chat and a photo with Heston before he was briskly whisked away by someone else eager to make conversation.
The whole experience has actually now inspired me to write my own cookbook with my brother, which we hope will get other teenagers interested in the world of food. Although it is still early days, we have had interest from a major publisher and I have made contacts at the evening which have really opened the door for me into something I am very passionate about.
All in all, I had an absolutely fantastic evening. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I would like to thank the Guild of Food Writer’s for putting on this competition as it is a great way for encouraging the younger generation to get into food writing. I would also like to thank Jane Suthering, the Guild’s President, for doing an excellent job of organising the competition. 
For more details of the WriteIt! food writing competition for 15 to 18-year-olds, click here.


Author: Justin Gruss Email: If you would like to contact Justin please email who will forward your correspondence.

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