Press Pass Logo - September 2019

Volume 37, Issue 09, December 2019

In this Issue:


From the Editor

Chris Cutler - Pretty blond sitting behind her computer desk with blurred bookshelves in Happy Holidays, everyone!

Believe it or not, the end of the year is steaming towards us, and I’m sure that most of us can’t figure out how 2019 can be over so quickly. Looking back at the year makes me happy to see the changes and advances we’ve made in IFWTWA publications. I thank you sincerely for your continued support, and I know that as we move into 2020, we’ll keep moving forward.

In this issue of Press Pass, we present you with a few tidbits of general interest to travel writers, a look at the 2019 IFWTWA Conference, the annual board report, new members, and more. Starting next month, we’ll have bi-monthly columns on various subjects to help you as writers and photographers.

Finally, as you may or may not have heard, next year’s conference takes place at The Atlantic Hotel and Resort in Ft. Lauderdale. As chair of the conference committee, I’m looking for volunteers to help with a few things throughout the year. If you are interested, please email me at [email protected].

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Chris signature 

Conference Highlights

2019 Conference Collage

The digital issue of Food Wine Travel is live!

By Chris Cutler, Executive Editor 

FWT Magazine Cover - Red Barge docked Be sure to check out our writers’ favorite hidden treasures from all over the world.

Try out the pitchfork steak fondue in Medora, North Dakota, and tobacco with Turkish figs soaked in Zacapa rum ice cream in Guatemala. Paddle down the Yukon River, hike like a woman in Wyoming, and enjoy what Curaçao and Amsterdam have to offer.

In this age of drive-throughs and fast food, we’ll slow down for a few meals in Los Cabos, Shanghai, and Rouen. And, if you’re more interested in cooking yourself, we show you where to find markets in Hong Kong and spices in the Yucatan.

We have articles on wine in Prince Edward County and a distillery in Gig Harbor. Read about a wine app that is a great social hub for oenophiles.

And, there is more! Read us to find out what you’re missing!


FWT Magazine Autumn Issuu

The Official IFWTWA Magazine
ISSUU (digital edition)

Publication News

During the IFWTWA conference, members of the editorial board met to discuss current and future projects and ideas. Attending were Chris Cutler, Mary Farah, Dave Nershi, Debbie Dunning Brouillette, Amy Piper, Kurt Jacobson, and Noreen Kompanik.

As Chris will be planning the 2020 IFWTWA Conference, Noreen will be helping edit articles for the digital issue of the magazine. In addition to editing features for the website, Jan Smith will handle “Picture Yourself Here” for the digital issue. Debbie Dunning Brouillette will handle publishing articles to the website. The editorial board will select a “destination spotlight” from the articles pitched for each digital edition.

Press PassFood, Wine, Travel Magazine

Speaking of the digital edition, the winter issue of Food, Wine, Travel Magazine will highlight food and spirits. We’ll celebrate cuisines, restaurants, chefs, and cooking techniques from around the world. We’ll taste wines and spirits, consider wineries and distilleries, and feature vintners and distillers. We’ll share recipes. We’ll just enjoy all that food and spirits have to offer.

PLEASE NOTE: You must pitch the article to Chris ([email protected]) by December 10. Articles are due January 15. The digital issue will publish in February 2020.

We are working on refining submission guidelines and will send those out mid-December.

We will add a few additional columns to Press Pass in 2020. Stay tuned!

About six weeks ago, the person handling our website left the organization to concentrate on her own work and Canadian writing organizations. I can upload articles and photos to the website, but I have neither the skills nor the time to handle You may remember that the site was down almost 48 hours last month because of a snafu. Members who volunteered to help told me that they face the same issues. Therefore, I requested that the board allow me to hire someone to work on the site two hours per week until the end of the year. At that point, the webmaster and I will discuss what we will need going forward.

Best Trips for 2020!

By Chris Cutler, Executive Editor

Whether you’re interested in food, culture, adventure, or history, these are 15 of National Geographic’s picks for the best destinations of 2020:

  • Asturias, Spain (Cabrales cheese and stews)
  • Parma, Italy (Parmesan cheese and Parma ham)
  • Bialowieza Forest, Belarus/Poland
  • Canary Islands, Spain
  • Grand Canyon, Arizona
  • Puebla, Mexico
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Fort Kochi, Kerala, India
  • Wales Way, UK
  • Tasmania, Australia
  • Magdalen Islands, Quebec, Canada
  • Kalahari Desert, Botswana
  • Telč, Czech Republic
  • Mendoza Province, Argentina
  • Maya, Guatemala

And, in case you missed it…

Marie Kondo became a household name this year.
People started following her lead to declutter their homes, offices, rooms, lives. Everyone was watching her videos, talking about her, and pinning Marie Kondo ideas to their Pinterest boards. Even the Washington Post recently got into the spirit by posting an article on how to pack a suitcase like Marie Kondo. If you didn’t see it, you can read it here.


The International Food Wine 
 Travel Writers 2020 

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA on the beach strip

The Atlantic Hotel & Spa 
November 8-11, 2020

#2 Best Hotel in Fort Lauderdale 2019
US News & World Report 

Get to Know Our New Members

By Cori Solomon, Membership Chair

Row of wine glasses with various colored wine


Nathan Aguilera Avatar

Nathan Aguilera
Foodie Flashpacker
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

I'm a food and travel writer that has been solo traveling for nearly six years now. In that time I've visited more than sixty countries across five continents. I've published nearly 200 posts on my site. Not only do I regularly publish on my own site, but I also do occasional freelance work for other publications as well.

In addition, I also regularly hire other writers for my site who cover areas of the world that I have not yet visited. I have also twice served as a judge covering the World Food Championships, the largest food sport event in the world.

Janie Pace Avatar

Janie Pace
Journey Mapped
Fort Worth, Texas

Travel writer/Photographer, a native Texan based in Fort Worth covering restaurants, wineries, breweries, cruises, travel destinations, and much more locally, nationally as well as internationally from Peru to Canada plus Hawaii to Bermuda.

Member of the IFWTWA International Food Wine Travel Writers Association, ITWPA International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance, USPA United States Press Agency, and TravMedia.


Birmingham Visitors & CVB Logo

"A little bit of everything. Historically significant. Eclectically funky. Progressively southern. Get a feel for the individual enclaves that make our city truly special."

Greater Birmingham Visitors & Convention Bureau Vickie Ashford - Alabama

 Wandering Spoons Logo

Travel Agent - Culinary Enthusiast - Luxury Travel

Wandering Spoons — Jessica Hanaghan - Montana

Association Recognitions

By Linda Kissam, President

Blurred image of clapping hands

It’s an honor to introduce you to our new members and to give recognition to members having anniversaries. We thank our new and anniversary members for including IFWTWA on their pathway to success. Your choice to work hard, think positive, network, and use your member benefits bring you to a whole new level of achievement. Way to go! 



MJ Hong AvatarMJ Hong
The Wine Artist
Lake Forest, California

MJ Hong is owner of The Wine Artist, a boutique winery that specializes in corporate events, private parties & custom labeled wine.

With over 2,500 square feet, this elegantly decorated Tuscan winery is perfect for hosting private parties, team building, birthday parties, fundraising and charity events where you can incorporate wine tasting, and bottling your favorite wine.

Contact MJ at [email protected]


Linda Milks AvatarLinda Milks
Toasting Food, Wine & Travel
Temecula, California

Traveling exposes us to other cultures which grows understanding, tolerance and acceptance. Connecting with people to learn about their activities, environment, culture, food and wine inspires Linda Milks. She loves to share her stories and experiences via freelance travel writing to capture the reader and rouse an interest in discovering new horizons. Sometimes it’s the hidden gems that bring Linda the most joy. Whether Linda travels to Switzerland; Punta Cana; Bordeaux; Italy; Birmingham, Alabama; or Door County, Wisconsin, she finds unique aspects of the area through conversations with the people with whom she comes into contact. She has found there is beauty in the commonplace as well as the exotic.

Linda has recently launched a new website: In the past, she was a contributor to such sites as with 15.7K followers; the local website,; and, for readers interested in stories about delicious food, great drinks, exciting adventures, and inspiring art;, a website of food, travel, shopping, wine, and always lots of fun; and, a website designed to introduce the reader to wineries and winemakers, good restaurants and some good stories.

Linda serves as Vice-President of the board of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association in the areas of Volunteer Recognition and Professional Development. She is also a member of the Wine Review Council, a group that reviews local, national, and international wines. Whether the story is very local to her wine region or about international locations with unique tidbits about that area’s local points of interest, having fun and enjoying new experiences is what Linda is all about.


Michelle Winner AvatarMichelle Winner
Luxe Getaways
Sandy, Oregon

Senior Contributing Editor LuxeGetaways, Travel Expert, Honest Cooking Culinary Travel Contributor, Wine Country Media Contributor, Western Art & Architecture Magazine,

Interviewer: Travel Writers Radio Melbourne JAIR FM 87.8, Past Credits Include: NY Times Food App Editor, Islands Magazine, Condé Nast Media, Signature Bride, Cowgirl Magazine,

Michelle Winner in HawaiiMichelle Winner is the reason that I’ve been a member of IFWTWA for the past five years. I met Michelle and Kurt at the IFWTWA conference in Montgomery, AL when I was invited to speak on social media.

I didn’t know anyone in the organization and they took me under their wings, introduced me to not only other members, but also opened up the world of travel writing to me. She shared industry insights (and a few secrets) and offered incredible encouragement.

Literally the day I returned home from the conference, I emailed Michelle (who was President elect at the time) and told her I wanted to get more involved with IFWTWA.

We’ve been friends for the past five years and I’ve admired and been inspired by her work all along. She is a true professional and I’m proud to call her a colleague.

-- Beth Graham, Freelance Writer / Storyteller at

Board Notes

By Linda Kissam, President

At the annual conference in Santa Fe, Linda Kissam, president, presented the following report during 2019 IFWTWA Annual Meeting.


The Treasurer’s Financial Reports are being passed around for your inspection. The Treasurer’s Report does not have to be approved by the members, but if anyone has additions or corrections, or a question about the report, please contact Susan Montgomery at the end of this meeting.

In short, this association is in the black as it has been for many, many years. The final numbers for this year’s budget are not in yet, but we hope to meet or exceed all goals.

IFWTWA 990 form 2017-2018 are posted on the website for any of you who wish to see them.

The votes are in on the bylaws revision and changes. There was a majority approval.

IFWTWA 2019 Board of Directors graphic


The next item on the agenda is the presentation of program items recommended by the Executive Board.

2019 Board Priorities Update
Each year the Board selects three priorities to work on.

  1. Revise 2019 Bylaws to clean up inconsistencies, add in historical off-the book policies, and reflect 21st century technology changes – Completed.

  2. Hire contractor to complete and revise look of Website – Completed

  3. Revise the membership committee with the goal to increase membership by 5% and revise benefits – This is still a goal in progress because it got a late start with a new chair just beginning 3 months ago. We will carry this through to 2020. But I will say this our current regular and associate membership increase initiatives and a new creative exploration of member benefits is looking great thanks to our new chair Cori Solomon. 
  • Website – Although we did meet our goal to revise and reface our Website, there is still member concern about its user friendliness and functionality. A new committee was formed in late October to oversee the issues with our IT contractor. Our goal is to know by January 2020 if the Website can be “saved” or we will need to find an alternative solution. If you have input on this subject, please see any board member present to express your concerns.
  • On a very positive note to close out this annual report, the success of our publications has been very positive this year. Chair Christine Cutler has redesigned Press Pass and is continuing to update it and what we present members. More importantly, and Food, Wine, Travel Magazine are doing great. Chris redesigned the logo and website, and now has an editorial board to work on direction with her. She has marketing under control, more writers submit to both venues, the digital issue is bringing us more views per month than the website. And new members who are excited to write for us are applying and contributing to both publications. I’d like to recognize and thank Noreen Kompanik for her personal recruitment of so many new members this year.
  • We had great success with our media trips program this year domestically, regionally and internationally. Trips to Atlanta, Oregon, California and Maine were offered, alongside individually tailored trips to Greece. Our SoCal Regional group offered several trips to its local members and it looks like we can look forward to seeing some other regional groups doing the same in 2020.

In 2020 members can look forward being offered trips like a foodie BBQ Cruise, and trips to Bellingham, Illinois, a combo Cody Wyoming & Yellowstone one and Alaska. It also looks like we will have at least one Canadian trip.

All the recommended items have been presented and explained briefly. The floor is now open briefly for any new business.

Thank you all, this annual meeting is now adjourned.

Use your IFWTWA profile to connect & network

By Hilarie Larson, Administrative Director & Adrianne Morrison, Site Content Mgr.

Thrilled you just landed that press trip you've been pursuing and you're on your way? First time you published in a coveted magazine or journal. Made a new connection other members may want to contact? 

Share your news updates in "My Status." 

Is there something more you'd like to share with your fellow writers or our Associate members? Use the Wall space to augment your public bio. List specific services, skill sets, training, and background information relevant to our members. Create photo albums to further present your brand and further your career objectives.

Take full advantage of your membership in our association of active and esteemed professionals. 

Example of using the "My Status" feature of your member profile: 

Member Profile Status Screen Shot Instruction

Example of using the "Wall" feature of your member profile:  

Example of using the member profile Wall

This website's Social Community can unite and engage our members using a wide variety of networking features. With the ability to designate "connections" (similar to "friending" on Facebook™), create circles (user-created member network groups), send private messages, and view the latest happenings in the Activity Stream (such as member generated connections, status, photos, wall updates), our members have plenty of opportunities to privately connect and share information beyond that shared via our public profiles.

Now that most members have created their member profiles, we can get busy in 2020 creating Circles, Forums and using Committee spaces. If this is something you'd like to use or participate in, but just aren't sure how to begin or become a moderator, let us know

Your feedback is always welcomed. Often, when a member takes the time to explain and walk-thru an issue with us, we can resolve it. Thank you, Mira Temkin, and to all our members for helping us develop and improve our new website this past year. If you have questions about using your profile or the website, just ask.


Happy Holidays Gold letters

Friends celebrating Christmas or New Year eve. Party table with lights and rose champagne.

IFWTWA Resources: Connect with our members and experts

Connect with fellow IFWTWA experts. Meet virtually in our social community forums; create your own Social Circles. Make connections from your profile. Plan a live meetup. Keep up-to-date by joining our private Facebook Members Group -- participate in weekly social media campaigns for likes, follows & retweets. Attend the conference. Volunteer on committees and work with our Board of Directors.

It's fun and beneficial to network with your colleagues. Learn from each other and grow your own and fellow member's professional goals and online presence. We know you are busy and on-the-move so your interaction is appreciated. Connect today!

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Chris Cutler
Executive Editor

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