Q& A with Monica Bhide
Like many past attendees of the Symposium for Professional Food Writers, Monica Bhide, who was awarded a scholarship to attend in 2004, used the opportunity to really jumpstart her writing career. We checked in on Monica to talk about her journey.
Q: What was going on in your writing career when you made the decision to attend the Symposium?
 A: I did not have any writing career at that point! I had just quit my full-time engineering job and was trying to figure out how to start writing full-time. I had written a few free essays on a site called e-gullet. As luck would have it, one of those pieces got picked by SPFW, and I was awarded The Susan B. Langhorne Novice Writer Scholarship for best “new voice”. And the rest, as they say, is history. 
Q: What drew you to attend?
 A: The scholarship gave me confidence in my own voice and, of course, Toni Allegra. She called and told me all the wonderful things about the event and how I would be in a small group of people all of whom would be willing to help me move forward. 
Q: What do you feel were the best things you got out of attending?
 A: One thing was meeting writers and editors. Many of the friendships I started there have turned out to be life-long. People were so helpful. It was pretty amazing.

Also, the editors who were presenting took time to talk to me and guide me. This is something I could never have received anywhere else. 
And of course, the atmosphere was cordial and supportive. 
Q: How many books have you done?
A: I have three cookbooks, one inspirational book, one set of fiction short stories, a food memoir and new books on the way. I have worked with large publishing houses and small ones. 
Q: What clicked for you after your attendance?
A: That there were people who were willing to help. And I have always paid it forward. It is the great circle of the writing life - receive and give and it all works out! 
Q: How has professional food writing changed since you went to SPFW?
A: I have made six-figures writing about food and I have had months when I made nothing. I think this is true not just for food writing, but for the freelance writing life in general. Things have changed  — it is harder to get well paying work, but that said, the work still exists. I write, teach and do many other things to make money. And I think that has always been true. There are very few people who make a good living on food writing alone - but they do exist and they do it well!!! 
About Monica Bhide: 
Monica Bhide is an internationally renowned writer known for sharing food, culture, love, and life with a lyrical voice and universal appeal. She has built a diverse and solid audience through the publication of three cookbooks, her collection of short stories, her website, MonicaBhide.com, and articles in top-tier media, including Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Saveur, The Washington Post, Health, the New York Times, Ladies Home Journal, AARP The Magazine, Parents, and many others. 
Her books have been published by Simon & Schuster and Random House (India). The Chicago Tribune named Bhide one of the seven food writers to watch in 2012. In April 2012, Mashable.com picked her as one of the top ten food writers on Twitter. Her work has garnered numerous accolades and has been included in four Best Food Writing anthologies (2005, 2009, 2010, 2014).
 Monica released her debut short story collection,
The Devil in Us, in October 2014. Monica is a frequent presence on NPR, and serves as a speaker and teacher for organizations such as Georgetown University, the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ), London Food Blogger’s Connect, and the Smithsonian Institution. Her sixth book, A Life of Spice, released on April 27th, 2015. Monica was just profiled in “Those Immigrants: Indians In America, A psychological exploration of achievement,” by James Beard award-winning Dr. Scott Haas.
Monica has a diverse career built around food. Her final online food writing workshop starts June 6th 2016. After this, this workshop will not be offered this year although she will be offering other classes - http://monicabhide.com/classes/