WOMEN OF THE IRISH FOOD INDUSTRY – JOCELYN DOYLE, EDITOR.
Jocelyn Doyle is a freelance food writer, content creator and editor. For the last eight years, she’s been working for Easy Food magazine – in recent years, as Deputy Editor – as well as being Food Content Creator for Easy Food’s parent company, content agency Zahra.
Since joining the Easy Food team in 2014, Jocelyn’s passion for artisan producers has only intensified as she has forged new connections across Ireland. Since 2016, her Eat Ireland column has shone a spotlight on one of these hardworking producers in every issue of the magazine, sharing the human interest stories behind some of this country’s best food and drink while bringing consumers one step closer to how real food is made. She is an advocate for buying Irish, supporting local farmers and producers, and making ethical, sustainable choices where possible, particularly where animal welfare is concerned. She also takes on freelance copyediting and proofreading work in her free time. Jocelyn was invited to join the Irish Food Writers’ Guild in 2018.
Now, I love it when I’m able to say I’ve met the woman featured in the post, and I have indeed met Jocelyn a few time. The first time was a big deal as I had been invited to the launch of a new oil (an oil I still use actually), Collar Of Gold, in Chapter One. I’d never been to Chapter One and so I was super excited but also dead nervous. I’d never been to a fancy press thing before, I’m not a dress up kinda gal and it was seated and I didn’t really know the people at my table and so I felt super shy. It didn’t help that the brand colours were purple and gold and guess what I’d worn… That’s right purple and gold. There is probably still a photo of me standing beside the lifesize cardboard cut-out of that bottle of oil. Morto for life. But I digress. That’s the first time I met Jocelyn, she was kind and calm and quick-witted. I also recognised her real passion for food. The lunch was phenomenal and you can tell when someone takes great joy from an experience. She did and I could relate. Following her on social media since, I’ve learned that we are in fact quite the kindred spirits. She loves cheese nearly as much as I do and she is fierce funny.
The March issue of Easy Food Magazine will be her last one and she deserves an almighty send-off. I’m terrible at buying magazines, but this is one for the forever collection.
How did your career path bring you here?
I suppose it all started with my undergraduate degree in Hospitality Management. Having realised halfway through that I did not, in fact, want to work in the hospitality industry at all, I interned in Bord Bia’s Small Business Department, which really gave me such an understanding of the small-scale producers who are responsible for much of Ireland’s food culture.
After some travelling, I went on to complete a Master in Food, Culture and Communication at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, the Slow Food-founded university in Bra, Italy. While writing my dissertation back home, I did my best to gain experience across every facet of artisan cheesemaking in Ireland, from rising before dawn to make cheese in the Gubbeen Farmhouse dairy to hosting adult cheese education classes with Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.
Fresh out of my Master, I started as an intern at Easy Food on the first working day of January, 2014. I was determined to find a full-time job as a food writer. I fell in love with the magazine very quickly and set about making myself indispensable. At the end of May, I asked whether a full-time role might be available, and found myself becoming the new Editorial Assistant. Over the next three years, I worked my way up through the ranks, becoming Staff Writer, then Recipe Editor. I was really eager to prove myself and hungry for new responsibilities. In April 2016, I launched a column with a focus on the small food producers of Ireland; Eat Ireland has been a monthly feature ever since. At the end of 2016, I was made the new Editor of Easy Gluten-Free, a quarterly magazine that we published at the time. Growing from intern to Editor within three years remains one of my proudest accomplishments.
From summer 2019, I became Deputy Editor of Easy Food, as well as taking on an additional role of Food Content Creator for Zahra, working across the wider company in creating and publishing bespoke food content for our client companies.
How does your career fulfill you?
You could say that food and language are my two great passions, and I have an insatiable appetite for both. I inhale books at a ravenous rate and write for fun in my free time, and I definitely think of myself as a writer first – but food is by far my favourite topic. I get as much pleasure from crafting the perfect sentence as I do from building a risotto or braise from scratch. My career is fulfilling because it’s a combination of the two: not only do I get to write, but I also get to think about food, talk about food and dream up creative new recipes.
I get a very tangible sense of accomplishment from print publishing, in particular, and being a part of the Easy Food team has been very rewarding from that perspective. Writing my column, Eat Ireland, has been the very best part; meeting and chatting to Ireland’s small producers is a genuine joy and I love finding new ways to cook with or serve their amazing foods and drinks, as well as helping to spread the word about their hard work and the challenges they face every day.
What are your professional ambitions? What’s next for Jocelyn Doyle?
This is actually an apt time to ask me that, as – after eight full years with Easy Food – I’ve reached a point where I’m ready for something new, and am finishing up with the magazine at the beginning of February. I’m sad to be leaving behind me a team of strong, incredibly talented, whip-smart, spit-out-your-tea funny and passionate women who have made this chapter of my life both an inspiration and a whole lot of craic, but it’s time for new horizons and fresh challenges. I’m off to take on a new role as Content Manager in a more B2B context, creating and managing content for a company that offers menu management and nutritional software across a variety of industries.
In the long term, I’d like to own my own copyediting and proofreading company, taking on a wide range of projects but specialising in food-related content. I don’t think I’ll ever give up the food writing, as it really does bring me such joy; I’ll always look to have some freelance pieces in the works.
Tell us of one woman in the food industry who consistently inspires you and why?
I’m completely in awe of what Kristin Jensen is doing right now with the Blasta Books series, bringing cookbook publishing into the realm of possibility for cooks and chefs who don’t have the huge names that are usually required. There’s plenty of room for the Darinas, Nevens and Donals of the world, but we’re in desperate need of some more diverse voices on our cookbook shelves, and I think how Kristin has tackled this is so, so smart.
On a day-to-day basis, I also have to mention the women I’ve worked with at Easy Food: our Editor Caroline Gray, Food Stylists Síomha Guiney and Shannon Peare, and our photographer, Sophie Barr. Over the years, I’ve been consistently inspired by their incredible passion and creativity. It’s been amazing to be part of a team that is so deeply obsessed with all things food. I can’t even tell you how many meetings have dissolved into rowdy arguments about sandwiches or long, rambling odes to potatoes. Nobody cares about food like those women do.
What do you think can be done to raise the profile and visibility of women in the industry?
I think things have been moving in the right direction over the last few years, but we’re not there yet. It’s crucial to keep talking about the work women are doing across all aspects of the food industry: chefs, producers, food writers, photographers, stylists, restaurant owners or managers, consultants, those in the non-profit space, you name it. The more visibility there is around the women who are kicking ass in these jobs, the easier it is for the next genertaion to imagine themselves doing even bigger things.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
There are a few! As mentioned, being made Editor just three years after starting at the bottom of the ladder was a truly surreal moment. Being asked to join the Irish Food Writers’ Guild was another, and one that has made a huge difference to my career. In 2021, I was also shortlisted in the first-ever Irish Food Writing Awards, in the Writing About Irish Food Producers category – a very proud day.
I’ve also received some truly lovely emails from Irish food producers thanking me for writing about them in Eat Ireland. Every one of those emails has made me so proud of lending them my voice and my platform. The average person out there probably doesn’t understand just how hard these small producers are working every day, and it’s because of them that we as a nation can boast such a stunning array of world-class food and drinks.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Keep learning everything you can, but don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and ask for what you deserve. Try not to listen when your impostor syndrome starts talking.
What are the top skills required to do your job and why?
I’d say the main skills I bring to the proverbial table are an obsession with good writing – from style and flow down to technical points like spelling and grammar – as well as a passion for cooking, eating and learning about food. If you’re working in recipe development and editing, you really also need to be able to cook in real life – to know what cooking method to use for which dish, what to add to coax out the best flavours, which step needs to come first – but you also need to be able to step into the reader’s shoes. If your reader is a regular home cook and not an expert or professional, what might not be obvious at their end? Are you explaining every step as clearly as possible? Is there any room for misunderstanding? Asking those questions is what makes a recipe worth following.
Are you a savoury or sweet kinda person? Please tell us about a real treat?
I have a complete and utter lack of a sweet tooth; I think how I feel about fat is probably close to how most people feel about sugar. On a rare occasion I can be tempted by a well-made panna cotta or tiramisu – something with full-fat dairy!
Fresh Irish shellfish would definitely make my “death row dinner”. Last summer, my partner and I travelled most of the Wild Atlantic Way, and essentially all I did for two weeks was eat shellfish and drink Guinness. It was superb. I’m also deeply, irrevocably, romantically in love with Irish dairy, and cheese in general; give me a board of the runniest, gooiest, stinkiest cheeses you can muster up, and I’m a happy lady. I don’t even need crackers; they’ll just slow me down!
I’ve also got a real thing for raw meat and fish. I’d sell my soul for a piece of lardo di Colonnata (cured pig back fat, from Tuscany), and there’s a local speciality in the town I lived in in northern Italy that I think about at least a couple of times a month: a beef and pork fat sausage called salsiccia di Bra, served raw, often at aperitivo time. If I could have a few chunks of that right now with a glass of white wine, I think I might weep with happiness.