Yesterday, ICE’s Center for Food Media brought Saveur Editor-in-Chief and Top Chef Masters Judge James Oseland to ICE to speak about his life and career in publishing. The small, intimate conversation with the class was lead by the Center for Food Media Director Anne E. McBride. Oseland has been with Saveur since 1998 when he started as a contributor.
Oseland did not start out ever wanting a career in food. After dropping out of high school, Oseland eventually went on to art school and got a master’s degree in film. He worked for almost a decade in the film industry in Los Angeles, editing and developing scripts. Once he realized he liked the work but did not love it, he took a low-level job at LA Weekly just for a change and instantly fell in love with the world of publishing. He came to New York and took a job at the Village Voice and spiraled out from there to various publications such as Vogue, Organic Style and Mademoiselle.
After a friend gave him a copy of Saveur, he became an avid reader. On a whim he sent a pitch to editor Christopher Hirsheimer. He didn’t hear anything for a year, so he sent it again. Within a few days he as having lunch with Hirsheimer and she offered him a feature story based on one of his ideas. He said, “From that point on I was always working on at least one or two stories for Saveur.” In 2006, he was named the magazine’s editor-in-chief.
While he admitted that he loved cooking, Oseland admitted that the reason he loves Saveur is that to him it is not a food magazine, rather it is anthropological magazine that looks at places, peoples and cultures through the lens of food. When asked what made people successful, he said, “I think just that they are interested in the world and engaged in what they are doing.”