This summer, I landed an internship at the Long Islander Newspaper, a local newspaper on Long Island that covers the Town of Huntington. On the first day of work, I was assigned by the head editor to cover the "Side Dish" section of their weekly newspaper, in addition to other stories covering news in the town. "Side Dish" is a section that keeps Long Islanders up to date on restaurant openings/closings, new places to try, restaurant specials, and more. Because of my experience with Spoon University, the head editor felt that I would be well-suited to cover this food writing-based section of the paper on a weekly basis.

Thinking Outside the Box 

No question, I love food writing. However, writing restaurant reviews was not something with which I had a ton of experience. Not only was it challenging to effectively write about a restaurant in a short paragraph and cover what they offer to attract residents, but it was also difficult to keep up-to-date with food news in the town.

I had to learn how to investigate the status of certain restaurants and figure out what would be interesting for the residents to try. I put on my creative thinking cap and had to think outside the box; I tried to find hidden gems throughout Huntington that would provide readers with unique content. 

Finding Hidden Gems 

sandwich, cream, cake
Lauren Peller

The picture above is just one of the hidden gems I found in the Town of Huntington this summer. This Instagram-worthy rainbow crumb cake, originally from Queens Comfort, a gourmet bakery in Astoria, is the best of both worlds. It is a combination of a rainbow cookie and coffee cake. This decadent rainbow crumb cake can be found at Sweetie Pies (181 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor).

The owners at Sweetie Pies said they had a ton of visitors come to try the rainbow crumb cake because of this photo and the segment featured in "Side Dish." Sweetie Pies also offers much more than this cake; they offer teas, smoothies, pastries, and coffees. Finding hidden gems impresses both readers and the editors under whom I was working.  

Connecting With Restaurants 

pizza, beer, coffee, tea
Lauren Peller

Releasing restaurant news is always the most important to the residents in the area. In the beginning of July, XO Restaurant Wine & Chocolate Lounge closed its doors, and there was no signage outside the restaurant to indicate why they closed. I reached out to the town and to the owner on all social media platforms. I could not dig up any information about why it closed, which was frustrating, because I felt like I was not giving readers the inside scoop, which was essentially my job.

Even though I could not find out why XO closed, I did discover that a new restaurant was taking its place, because I noticed new signage outside XO's old location. Connecting with restaurants can be a huge challenge, especially if they are closing down. My suggestions are to keep digging and to never give up; be an investigative journalist. 

Telling Restaurants

pizza, beer, tea, coffee
Lauren Peller

Reaching out to restaurants and letting them know you are going to write a feature about them is a great way to connect with people and get free food. After writing a short review about Kai Poké, they invited me to their opening day to try a Poke Bowl for only $9. Their poke bowls were an awesome addition to Huntington and foodies from all over Long Island were flocking there to try them. Telling restaurants that they are being featured in your writing means more connections and more free or discounted food, which are great perks. 

Choose Words Carefully & Creatively 

date, spam
Mackenzie Patel

Since I had to write about food weekly, I struggled with varying my word choice. I came to a roadblock this summer because I found myself using the same words over and over again. These over-used words include mouthwatering, delicious, famous, etc. I found this list of words to use when writing about food, and it improved my writing and varied my word choice and sentences. Be creative and cut to the chase when writing about the food a restaurant has to offer. 

tomato, pizza
Lauren Peller

Even though "Side Dish" in the Long Islander Newspaper was a small section, I learned that food writing is not as easy as you might think. It takes effort, creativity, and initiative. My food writing internship taught me so many incredible lessons, and it's my hope that this article did something similar to that for you.