Member in Focus: Zeren Wilson

Each month, newsletter editor Kristen Frederickson meets a Guild member with a story to tell. This month: Zeren Wilson, winner of the Food Blog and Social Media Award at this year’s Guild Awards

How long have you been a Guild member, and why did you join?

Around six years now. I joined so I could be part of a fantastic community of food writers, many of whom I admire and look up to, and it’s a privilege to be involved and contribute in some way.

You have carved out a very specific and personal niche in the food writing world. Can you tell us what factors drove you down this path?

I had a big career change in 2003, jettisoning a career in advertising sales, via an English Literature MA in Romantic poetry (focusing on Keats), and a stint as a trainee journalist. I first became interested in restaurants and wine while living in Sydney in 2000-2001, and on returning I was on the advertising team at BBC Worldwide, where BBC Good Food was one of the titles I was involved with. After another role elsewhere for six months, I realised I needed to take a leap onto another path. I joined Oddbins as part of their management programme, and from there quickly went to a fantastic independent merchant called The Winery in Little Venice, where I was involved in buying trips and tasting in the cellars of wineries in Burgundy, Piemonte, and in particular Germany (owner David Motion is a German Riesling specialist). From there I moved to selling wine to restaurants for on-trade supplier John Armit, where I was in contact with top restaurants in London, including Michelin starred places like Locanda Locatelli, Pied à Terre, The Ledbury, and favourite spots like Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Arbutus and Wild Honey. My oldest and best friend Adam set up a website for me in 2010, and I started to post reviews of new openings. I then went to work as sommelier at Zucca in Bermondsey Street, continuing to write about the latest openings … slowly, I had carved out a little niche, writing about restaurants from an industry, insider’s persepective, incorporating the wine knowledge into the mix.

What is the most satisfying part of the work you do?

Having the freedom and opportunity to immerse myself in the world of restaurants and wine – it’s a constant and never ending buzz.

How do you see the food writing world changing and evolving since you began working?

Since the rise of social media (Twitter was still a very recent thing in terms of restaurants and food when I began in 2010), and now with Instagram bossing the show, there’s a lot of content out there. It’s becoming trickier to wade through the information to get to the good stuff, but as in all things, if you’re good enough you’ll get noticed – it just may take a bit longer than it previously did!