New to 2012, Label Culture brings you an exclusive monthly feature exposing the lives of those living and working in the world of the Arts and Culture. December sees Culture editor Beth Baker-Wyse discover all things food and festive from Waitrose Kitchen Sub-editor Sarah Cobbold. 

I wake up around 7:30am and spend an hour getting ready for work, checking my emails, Facebook and Twitter before leaving the house. I tend to eat breakfast when I get to work as the commute takes it out of me.

I live in east London but work in west, so it takes me the better part of an hour to get to my desk. That hour normally involves jamming myself onto one bus and three separate trains with hundreds of other irate commuters. When I finally arrive, I make myself a decent coffee and a breakfast that will fill me up – something like avocado and salsa normally does the trick. 

I’ll run my eye over the production schedule to see where each layout is and what the other subs and I will be working on that day. When I get given a layout, I’ll normally start by cutting it down to fit. Next I’ll check the whole feature for spelling and grammar mistakes, and make sure it follows our house style. I’ll add in the nutritional information calculated by our nutritionist, and try to come up with a catchy headline to draw the reader in. If there are products listed, I’ll double-check the prices and product names – we do get calls from readers if they can’t find a certain item. Also if any mistake ever accidentally makes it through to print, we certainly hear about it!

Mid-edit, there might be a shout-out from the test kitchen, asking for a second opinion on the recipe that’s just been tested. The food editor tests every recipe in the magazine, so readers can be sure they can recreate it at home. There tends to be about ten recipes tested each week, from truffle-stuffed turkey to sticky toffee puddings. Once the food editor has tweaked the recipe accordingly, changing the quantities or cooking times slightly for example, the team are free to help themselves. We work several months in advance though, eating turkey (along with the rest of Christmas dinner) outside in the blazing hot sun of early September!

I’ll normally eat a fairly large lunch from the test kitchen, but will still try to get out for a bit of fresh air. Staring at a computer screen all day, particularly when you have to pay so much attention to detail, can get a bit draining. I’ll often wander down to Portobello Road for half an hour – I’m about a ten-minute walk away.

I’ll pick up where I left off in the afternoon: If I’m subbing a travel feature, I’ll call up the hotels and restaurants to confirm all the prices and facts the writer has provided. It’s sometimes difficult to explain to a waiter at a tiny restaurant in Thailand for example, that you don’t want to book a table – you just want to check they serve Pad Thai and charge 480 baht for it, but we need to make sure everything’s accurate. Later on, there might be a few more test kitchen recipes that look too good not to try, or some products that have been sent in for us to sample, so I’ll graze on bits and pieces throughout the afternoon.

I’m normally finished by 5:30pm, but I’m out most evenings either catching up with friends or occasionally at a press event. Whether that’s a restaurant opening or a product launch, there does tend to be more food involved, and generally plenty of alcohol, but I try to be restrained – I’m never really hungry after the amount I’ve eaten at work! When I get home, I’ll normally go straight to bed, but will occasionally stay up to do a bit of editing for Magnify, an independent publication I work on in my spare time, or write up an article for The London Word or my personal blog before crashing out.


Favourite Articles to Write

One that comes spontaneously. I use my blog as an outlet whenever I feel inspired to write, but published articles have to be far more planned, which makes them harder to write.

Favourite Perk of the Job

Getting to sample so much amazing food at work, in restaurants and on press trips abroad.

Favourite Chef

Michel Roux Jr. He's very good at what he does, yet comes across as quiet and unassuming. I met him once at La Gavroche and he was completely charming. 

Favourite Food

Steak and ale pie with mounds of mash, peas and gravy, followed by sticky toffee pudding. 

Favourite Feeling

Seeing the magazine I've worked on at the newsstands, especially when I see someone pick it up, flick through and buy it.


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