Person of Marvel: Emma Winterschladen - Editor at Beast magazine and Liz Earle Wellbeing
In life you will most likely meet two types of people, those who eat to live and those who live to eat.
Emma Winterschladen, Food & Travel Editor for Liz Earle Wellbeing and Editor of BEAST magazine, most certainly falls into the second category. Her love for food and cookery has endured the peaks and troughs of life, providing a safe haven and cementing the deep connection with her late mother Jenny, while also giving her creativity, as manifest in her wonderful articles and illustrations, an outlet and platform from which to inspire others.
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Emma and had the chance to speak to her about the healing power of food, her fondest culinary memories and what it takes to become a great writer.
How would you say your relationship with food has shaped the way in which you write about it?
I was incredibly lucky to grow up in a household where good food - cooking it, eating it, talking about - was a huge part of our day-to-day life. My mum was a real kitchen potterer - I’d return home from school most days to be greeted by the smell of something delicious drifting through the air. I spent a huge amount of time as her ‘sous chef’ - chopping and stirring and, most importantly, taste-testing! As I result, I developed a deep respect for cooking and eating food as an act of kindness to yourself, and a way to spend quality time with loved ones. In fact, when Mum died when I was 16, our loss was most manifest in the breakdown of our family mealtimes. It’s been a real journey for me in rediscovering that childhood joy for food, which I lost for a while in the aftermath of her death. Today the way I write about food is no doubt shaped by that loss, but I’m now in a place where cooking good food - be it the food Mum used to cook, or my own recipes - brings me not only real joy again, but a sense of connectedness to her. So food will always be more than just sustenance for me: it’s something I hang memories onto and use to help support my emotional self.
How did your first get into journalism and editorial?
I spent my university summers working on various magazines as an editorial intern - I even did a stint in the newsroom at CBS news which was very exciting! In my final year of Edinburgh, I worked once a week at Scottish Field magazine where I wrote restaurant reviews and did various editorial bits and bobs. I also started by own blog The Hungry Romantic which got me onto thinking how I’d rather quite like to get paid to write about food! My real ‘break’ however came when I graduated from Edinburgh University and landed a role interning with Liz Earle MBE on her new wellbeing website (which soon became Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine!).
Did you always want to be a writer?
I have always written - be it in various diaries, or for my school magazine. But actually, art has always been the real constant in my life from when I could first pick up a pencil. From a very young age I wanted to be a fashion designer (mainly because I enjoyed drawing glamorous women!), then a children’s book illustrator (which I’d still like to do). Throughout school I loved English Literature and did think I’d like to write books. I’ve definitely always had a strong sense that I’d like to do something creative - although at one point I did want to follow in my mum’s footsteps and do law! She quickly talked me out of that.
Do you have any interviews or features that you have done that stand out/impacted you?
When I published this piece about Mum on Stylist a few years ago things shifted for me in a big way. It was the first time I’d put out into the world something so personal and the response was really incredible. I still to this day get messages from people who have stumbled across it and tell me how it resonated deeply. To be able to take my experiences and share them in a way that connects with others who have gone through similar things feels a real privilege and it’s something I’d like to do more of in future - be it through my words or illustrations. The whole trajectory of my career path was and continues to be quietly shaped by that article, and although I haven’t since published anything about my mum, apart from on my @hungryromantic Instagram, I will when the time is right.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your articles and illustrations?
I am a voracious consumer and hoarder of words and images. My home (much to my boyfriend’s chagrin!) is filled with stacks of magazines, shelves of books, and there’s always a podcast on in the background. Whenever I’m not working, I’m constantly reading and listening and watching - be it articles, books, podcasts, people. Everything is an inspiration to me and I definitely have a real greediness to absorb as much as I can and record it. Anything that sparks an idea in me, whether it’s a conversation, a dream or from something I’ve scrolled past on Instagram, I’ll either write it in my iPhone notes or sketch it in my notepad. It means I’m never short of ideas, just short of time to do anything with them all!
In your opinion, what makes a good writer?
A curious one. Someone who is genuinely interested, not only in what they’re researching and writing about, but in the world around them. I think that someone who can make the personal, universal and inaccessible, accessible - be that the latest health research paper or complex, intricate feelings - is in my eyes a good writer. Obviously a good understanding of grammar and sentence structures helps too. I also think to be a good writer you must be a good reader too. I can always tell when I haven’t been reading enough because I find writing so much harder.
Can you tell us a bit more about Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine and how you came to be Food and Travel Editor?
I came on board at Liz Earle Wellbeing when it was just a few of us sitting around Liz’s kitchen table working on her new wellness website. This soon became a digital magazine, which grew to the print magazine that it is today. I’ve been lucky enough to grow with the company and carve out my own niche within it around my interests and strengths. We focus on all the ‘pillars’ of wellbeing: physical and mental health, community, good food, movement, a sense of purpose. Each bi-monthly magazine is jam-packed with features on health and beauty, travel and lifestyle.
Do you feel that loss has ever spurred you on or motivated you more in your career?
Without a doubt. The loss of Mum will forever be one of the most significant things that ever happened to me. Who knows what I’d be doing now if she was still alive, but I know that losing her instilled in me a keen sense of how fragile life is - and what’s important. She may not be here, but she certainly motivates me every day and still feels like a real champion for all the work I do. When I write about her too, it feels like a way to carry her forward with me in my life.
As a travel writer, what do you enjoy the most about travelling?
I forever feel grateful that my job includes travelling to so many incredible places. But do you know, whether it’s a 5* place or a cute little Airb&b somewhere, my favourite thing to do is pull on my walking shoes and go exploring, without a map! There’s nothing quite as satisfying as stumbling upon a gorgeous little cafe or restaurant where you can set up camp with a good book (the book being, of course, just a ruse so you can people-watch!). Aside from that, the thing I enjoy the most is discovering the food of different places. I always try to do a cooking class wherever I go.
How do you like to start the day, do you have any rituals?
Ideally I try to start everyday with a bit of yoga, but that can go out the window if I’m on deadline (although that’s probably when I need it the most!). I do however start every morning with a podcast and a pot of fresh coffee.
What does wellbeing look like to you?
‘Wellbeing’ to me looks different every day, some days it could be making sure I move my body and spend some time outside, other days it’s getting enough sleep, being able to read a few chapters of my book, or it could be seeing my friends. I do know that I’m at my most ‘well’ when I’ve woven in time for myself, away from a screen - no matter how busy I am.
What brings you joy?
The people in my life, a quiet day at home cooking, reading, writing and doing yoga, and carving out time to illustrate.
What is your comfort food recipe?
Cowboy pie (think beans, mashed potato, melted cheese!) It’s what my mum used to make me when I was feeling low, and to this day I still make it when I need a lift. That and a really good dhal.
What is your fondest memory of food growing up?
One of my fondest food memories is baking with Mum in the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon. We were listening to songs from musicals, singing along, and making one of her famous AGA Victorian sponge cakes. I remember we got into a bit of a ‘batter’ food fight after I accidentally flicked cake batter at her.
How have your tastes changed over time with regards to food?
My tastes have remained pretty consistent actually. Stilton and red onion were my favourite foods when I was little and still are! I’m very much a savoury eater - although I am partial to a slice of cake with a cup of tea if the occasion calls!
As a self-confessed bibliophile what books have you been reading that have left an impression on you?
Oh, I’ve read so many good books recently actually. I absolutely loved Normal People by Sally Rooney and How Do You Like Me Now by Holly Bourne. Non-fiction wise, I’ve currently been enjoying Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail and Maria Popova’s Figuring, as well as Jenny Linford’s The Missing Ingredient and Ella Risbridger’s Midnight Chicken. Sara Tasker’s Hashtag Authentic is a beautiful book for anyone interested in following their creativity too, particularly online.
Where are you looking for wellbeing/travel/food inspiration and tips?
Instagram is a constant source of inspiration, as is Pinterest. But I actually still love a good magazine and so I’ll always make sure to buy the latest issue of Psychologies, RED, Simple Things, BBC Good Food, Breath, Nat Geo, as well as books and podcasts.
Where are the best places to travel to in your opinion?
I love visiting European cities, but equally love a far-flung adventure. My favourite destinations of the past year or so would have to be Sri Lanka and the Maldives (which I’ve written about in the Jan/Feb and March/April Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine respectively). I fell in love with them both and I’m itching to go back!
Do you have any words of wellness wisdom as an esteemed editor in this field?
I think wellness truly looks different for everyone, but I would say having researched and written about it specifically over the past few years, it often comes back to looking after your mental health, as well as physical. For me that’s checking in with myself each day. Being kind to yourself and giving yourself a break sometimes is so important too - whether that’s through eating food that you know makes you feel good, or trying to get outside (and away from your screens!) each day. For me, I think of my ‘wellness’ on a smaller, day-to-day scale — just making sure I do little things each day that I know make me feel good and my best self.
Did you make any new years resolutions, if so, have you kept to them? I have one of those stubborn personality types that if I set myself a resolution and feel pressured in any way, I rebel against it. My biggest resolution has been to be a bit nicer to myself - turns out I’ve had a bit of a bitchy inner-critic nattering away in my ear for a while now. So this year I’ve been a bit better at telling her to quiet down.
You can follow Emma on Instagram @hungryromantic for recipe inspiration, wellness tips and a dose of wanderlust.