Food Writing Competition 2022

creative nonfiction — Sources of Sustenance.

Food—and the way we grow, source, prepare, eat, and write about it—links us to our families, our histories, our culture, our health, our environment, and our bodies. Food also plays a vital role in tradition, ritual, and celebration. And yet, as George Orwell once remarked, we rarely recognize  those who grow and prepare the food we eat: “You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market-gardeners." 

It’s time to give food, and those who prepare it, their due! Food writing can be an investigation, an exposé, an odyssey, a memoir. Perhaps you’ll write about your Papa’s famous parathas, the methane toll of cow belches, that surprising recipe passed down nine generations, or the garden bed in your school playground. 

And remember, as the journalist and cookbook author Ramin Ganeshram puts it, “it’s not really about the food.” Here’s a taste of what we mean:
  • The Dumpling Table (WtW): “Why did you add so much meat?” Aunt says as she picks up my behemoth.  With deft fingers she tucks in the tears, halves the meat, reseals the lips, and squishes the dumpling into its proper shape.  She tosses the newly conformed dumpling onto a tray, along with its perfect siblings.  “Is she still learning Mandarin?” she asks.  
  • A Heat Wave’s Lamented Victim: The Mango, India’s King of Fruits (NYT): No fruit in India is as universally loved and as eagerly anticipated as the mango, which, for one brief window each year, cools and sweetens the long days of summer… But this year, this centuries-old ritual is imperiled.
  • ‘Watermelon and Red Birds’ Offers a Guide to Juneteenth—and Black Celebration Culture (Civil Eats): Nicole A. Taylor’s new cookbook is both ‘light with the pleasures of food and heavy with the weight of history.’
  • The Stewards of Australia's Original Food (Saveur): Bruce Pascoe waded through the shallows at the mouth of Mallacoota Inlet, an estuary in southeastern Australia, on the Tasman Sea. He had a slight frown on his weathered face and a plastic bucket in hand as he lifted tree snags caught on sandbars.
  • Black People Don't Eat Sushi (WtW): Black people don’t eat sushi.” He said it while I was in the middle of filling a bowl with grits, awaiting their seasoning of butter, salt, and pepper (because that’s the way to best serve grits). It was breakfast time at our small church on the side of the road in an affluent suburb of Nashville TN. 
  • Reviving Breadfruit, the Polynesian Staple, Could Nourish People and Fight Climate Change (Civil Eats): Promoted as the next superfood, breadfruit just might be the world’s most ecological carbohydrate, and on the verge of a much-needed renaissance in Hawaii and beyond.
  • Taste the Rainbow This Pride Month (NYT): June is Pride Month and to celebrate, the chefs Seleste Tan and Mogan Anthony — the owners of Lady Wong, an East Village bakery that specializes in Southeast Asian confections — offer a dazzling steamed Indonesian rainbow cake. 
  • Potatoes (WtW): For as long as I can remember, Dad’s been in the garden, kitted out in his camouflage jacket, army-style boots and covered in streaks of mud. He wells holes 6.2cm apart so that each bean plant grows just right with maximum crop yield. 
This month, write an essay about food and so much more. We hungrily await your entry.  
Guiding Ideas
  • MORE THAN FOOD: How can your piece be about something more than food? Can you draw connections to culture or politics or family or geography? What is the underlying importance of your subject? Even if you're writing about your favorite recipe, how can you dig into the social or historical or ethical elements of that food?
  • OPENING LINES: Does your beginning pull the reader into the narrative? 
  • MEMORABLE DETAILS: Have you drawn on sensory details? Taste and smell perhaps? Or texture? Sound? 
  • THE ESSAY FORM: Have you drafted an essay (as opposed to a poem or story)? You can find examples of past winning entries here and here and here.
Who is Eligible?  
Young writers ages 13-18  
600 – 1,000 words

Is previously published work eligible?
Our monthly competitions are designed to get you writing across a range of genres throughout the year, so we encourage you to  write a new work for each  competition, but we will also accept work that has been previously shared with a small, local audience (for instance, a piece that was published in a school journal).

How to Enter 
  1. If you haven’t yet, sign up for a free account for Write the World as a young writer here
  2. Hit the “Start Writing” button above! 
  3. Draft your entry! Hit “Save” to return to it later. 
  4. The first 100 people to submit a draft by June 13 will receive an in-depth review from one of our Expert Reviewers—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals—that you can use to revise your final entry. The “Submit for Expert Review” button will be clickable if slots are still available—click it to have your draft reviewed. (Note: you can still enter the competition if you haven’t received or don’t want to receive an Expert Review!) 
  5. When you are ready to submit your entry, hit the "Submit as Final" button (You can revise, re-publish, and mark any version as your "final submission" until the deadline.
  6. Only one entry per person, please. 
Guest Judge:  Sally Sampson 
Sally Sampson is the Founder and President of ChopChop Family. Ms. Sampson’s work in young people's health has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Columbia Journalism Review, Parent’s Choice Foundation, and the Massachusetts Health Council. Ms. Sampson is the author and co-author of 27 cookbooks, including the IACP award-winning ChopChop: The Kids Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family, the James Beard Award-nominated The $50 Dinner Party, The Olives Table (with Chef Todd English), and Souped Up! She has contributed to the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe and Cooks Illustrated, among others.

  • Best Entry: $100 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the winning piece, and an interview with the author will be featured on Write the World’s blog) 
  • Runner up: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the piece will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
  • Best Peer Review: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the best peer review and an interview with the reviewer will be featured on Write the World’s blog)     

What’s Different about Write the World Competitions? 
  • Prizes: The winning entrant will receive $100, and the runner-up and best peer-reviewer will receive $50.       
  • Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.       
  • Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday, June 13 and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.  

Key Dates 
  • June 6: Competition Opens  
  • June 13: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)      
  • June 17: Reviews returned to Writers  
  • June 21: Final Submissions Due
  • July 1: Winners Announced  
Upcoming Competition
Our Fantasy Writing opens Monday, July 4th.
Stay tuned for more details!  

Writing Guidelines
The power of our writing goes hand in hand with responsibility. Make sure that you’re supporting other people through your writing rather than pulling them down. The types of content that will be removed from the site include, but are not limited to:   
  • Anything that may be deemed hurtful, defamatory or discriminatory in nature.
  • Anything deemed explicit or gratuitously violent.
  • Anything referencing self-harm. 
  • Any commercial posts and/or spam. 
  • Plagiarism (see more at our Writing Guidelines page). 
  • Personal contact information—including usernames on social media or other platforms. This is to protect the privacy of our members.
  • Links to any external websites, with the exception of links to citations as part of an essay, or including links to illustrations or audio as part of a Write the World competition or prompt.
If a writer posts content that violates our terms or goes against our guidelines, we will remove the post and contact the writer when necessary.  Please refer to our Writing Guidelines and site’s terms for further information.

Due Dates
  • Jun 13 - Drafts due for Expert Review

  • Jun 21 - Competition Deadline


Food Writing Q&A with Guest Judge Sally Sampson

June 9, 2022

Whether your Food Writing Competition entry explores the role of a certain food in a cultural celebration, the life cycle of an ingredient, or a beloved family recipe, the goal of your piece should be to transport your reader. And the surest way to do this is to ground your piece in sensory details, the kind that will put readers next to you in the kitchen, at the table, or in the field. As Guest Judge Sally Sampson says, “Tell me about a place, a person, a recipe, it doesn’t really matter what it is, it matters if I want to go there, meet that person, or get hungry!” 

Read on to get more great tips from the Founder and President of ChopChop Family, learn about what it takes to write a cookbook, and find out what Sally’s looking for in a winning entry!

Get Tips!