Press Pass Logo - September 2019

Volume 38, Issue 01, January 2020

In this Issue:

From the Editor

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

Just think. In one second in the middle of the night, we stepped into a new year and a new decade. It is a time to celebrate the people, places, and events that made 2019 wonderful while we plan for the year that is dawning.

Two things that I hope you’ll plan to do this year are to share your stories, photos, ideas with us and to share Food, Wine, Travel Magazine via your social media. The magazine exists for members, and when it does well, it reflects back on both the writer in particular and the organization as a whole. Those numbers are what help us with industry recognition, press trips, etc.

On another note, this issue of Press Pass is full of information, news, and more. One new monthly column provides links to information that will help you in your job as a food, wine, or travel writer. In another, we look at destinations represented by the sponsors and exhibitors of our 2019 conference as attendees share their one-on-one experiences. And, we’re always looking for great information, so if you have any you’d like us to share, please send me the information ([email protected]).

I hope that 2020 brings you new horizons and many adventures!


Chris signature 

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Picture Yourself Here...

Couple on beautiful beach under colorful stripped umbrella

The winter edition of Food, Wine, Travel Magazine will hit the virtual streets in the cloud next month, and we’re adding a new feature to it. Picture Yourself Here is a two-page photo spread on one particular location that has a relation to the issue’s theme (food, wine, spirits). A committee will judge the submissions and pick one that, in their opinion, best fits.

 FWT Magazine Logo

 Want to submit? Here are the guidelines:

  • All photos must be yours

  • Submit best high-quality photos (nothing blurry, dark, uninteresting). You must submit a minimum of 15 photos.

  • Resize your photo to be 1000 pixels wide, 72 DPI

  • Save your photos for Web.

  • Caption all of your images using a phrase not a sentence. For example: Italian spaghetti made by Chef Gorgonzola © Jimmy Jamieson.

  • Send your submissions to Jan Smith, [email protected], by January 20.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are writing an article for the issue, your photos are eligible, but they must not be of the same place as your article.

Quick Tips

Did You Know???

Forbes Magazine has come out with eight travel trends that we should expect to see in 2020. In addition to traveling with pets and taking more shorter trips, vegan travel (Yes, it is a thing!) and country coupling are going to be popular. Check those and six more trends here.

What do England and Portugal have in common with Antarctica and Kyrgyzstan? Believe it or not, they are among the top 10 hottest travel destinations for the ultra rich. You can read why and discover the other six here.

Finally, green travel is gaining in popularity. CNN has information on how to do so here.

Photo Tip of the Month

You’ve probably heard that one of the best ways to balance a photo correctly is to break the image into thirds horizontally and vertically. Placing the interesting points at the grid’s intersections balances the image and makes it more natural.

Using a grid when you take photos with your phone is easy. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings, choose Camera, and click the Grid button to on. If you have a Samsung, open the camera app, choose Settings, and scroll down and turn the grid lines option to on.

New Year, New You!

By Cori Solomon, Membership Chair

It the time of the year when we start preparing for the new year. As an IFWTWA member, it is a good time to update your profile. That includes changing out your article clips. If you have not gone into your profile in a while, now might be time to clean out your 2018 or older articles and add your 2019 clips so that you are ready to apply for those upcoming media trips that IFWTWA has to offer. Remember our hosts especially those that are members of IFWTWA (We now have 28 associate members) often look at our profiles for media trip acceptance.

Start 2020 off right with a fresh-looking profile and clips.

November 8-11, 2020

The International
Food, Wine, Travel Writers 
2020 Conference

The Atlantic Hotel & Spa 

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

Destinations and Writers Meet One-On-One to Discuss Travel in 2020!

By Deirdre Michalski & Linda Milks

Two business women at table in collaboration
On the second day of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers conference in Santa Fe, exhibitors and sponsors had the pleasure of meeting with enthusiastic travel writers to discuss plans for 2020. This was a great opportunity for various destinations across the county to share with our writers information about their town, what makes it special, what they want to be promoting this year and collaborate on possible introductions and future press trips.

For many of the writers, it was an eye-opening experience as they learned about places that might have not even been on their radar prior to the conference. As an organization, IFWTWA is very grateful for the support of our exhibitors and sponsors at our annual conferences. We encourage you to consider these spots to explore, write about, and enjoy.

This month we’ll look at Santa Fe, NM; Omaha, NE; and Birmingham, AL. Stay tuned as we celebrate Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels; Albuquerque, NM; Celina’s Bisochitos (Albuquerque); Medford, OR; Park City, UT; Kansas City, KS; Flagstaff, AZ; Memphis, TN; Whidbey and Camano Islands, WA; Vivac Winery; Phoenix, AZ; and Paso Robles, CA over the next several months.


I know lots of people who love Santa Fe, but it wasn’t on my top lists of places to visit until the IFWTWA conference was held in that interesting city. I had no idea just how much art and how many amazing restaurants waited for travelers to experience. I loved the opportunity to experience some of the unique and truly Southwestern-focused restaurants at our “A Taste of Santa Fe.” Thank you, Joanne Hudson from the Santa Fe CVB, for letting us sample some of the best. I know I need to come back to try meals at these restaurants.

Finding out that New Mexico has one of oldest wine regions in the country and that a lot of the tasting rooms and wineries are very close to Santa Fe was pretty exciting, too. I want to visit these places.

One of the destinations where I wanted to travel was to the Puye Cliff Dwellings, but I ran out of time. To experience these native dwellings has to be awe inspiring. The magic of the ancestral homes and the spirituality of the area intrigues me.

Santa Fe, you are on my list for a return trip to take in the wonders of the area.

~ Linda Milks,

Joanne Hudson avatarThank you for your interest in Santa Fe. The primary function of the TOURISM Santa Fe Communications Team is to assist members of the media with preparing stories on the area. We are your go-to source for press trip assistance with insider knowledge to enhance your story. Our goal is to assist you as quickly and thoroughly as possible with your media coverage needs. We check facts, offer story ideas, provide destination photos and b-roll video, plan itineraries and arrange complimentary media experiences. An abundance of stories are waiting to be written in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Please reach out to our team for assistance. 

Contact Joanne Hudson, Tourism Santa Fe to set up your FAM Trip


When I think of Omaha, Nebraska, my mind goes to juicy steaks. The Midwest is known for their meat, and I talked to Tracie McPherson, APR and Director of Communications for Visit Omaha about the food. (And I can vouch for the restaurants since I have experienced some truly special places like Le Voltaire.)

Tracie told me yes, the best meats are there, but there’s also wine. Really, in Omaha? Who knew! (I’m curious about wines.)

Tracie told our group that Omaha has one of the best zoos in the world. Really? Better than my zoo in San Diego? It’s open year-round with much to see and experience, and she was confident I’d be impressed with their zoo. (I can comment that they have some truly unique indoor exhibits that aren’t found elsewhere. It is consistently ranked as one of the top five zoos in America. The Desert Dome and Aquarium is the largest indoor desert in the world.)

Now I’m ready to experience Omaha, and I hear there are many ethnic bakeries which is right up my alley. (And yes, ethnic bakeries ARE right up your alley, M’Liss!)

~ M’Liss Hinshaw,
(comments by Linda Milks, a former Nebraskan)

Tracie McPherson avatarWhether you're writing a story about Omaha or looking for Omaha story ideas our friendly and knowledgeable staff is ready to meet all your media needs.

Fill out the Media Trip Requests form on our website or email me at [email protected]

Contact: Tracie McPherson, VisitOmaha to set up your FAM Trip 

 Visit Birmingham Logo

Seeing Vicky Ashford from Birmingham CVB as one of the exhibitors at the convention was a treat. I have known her for years and always enjoy the new things she has to tell about Birmingham. For a city ruled over by the 100,000-pound Roman god of fire, Vulcan, you expect a special spark, and you do find it in this culturally diverse southern city.

My last trip there is one I would suggest every thoughtful person should experience. We mixed the seriousness of the Civil Rights Trail from the Bethel Baptist Church where the Birmingham movement really began to the Birmingham Jail where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his famous letter. We balanced that with a visit to folk artist, Joe Minter’s African Village in America, described by one visitor as “That crazy artist who lives in the graveyard” and a trip to Gip’s Place, one of America’s last juke joints run by a 90+ year-old gravedigger/bluesman. Thank you, Birmingham.

~ Katy Walls, and

Vickie Ashford avatarBirmingham is a place that’s brimming with entertainment, the arts, nightlife, outdoor recreation and world-class cuisine. 

Vickie Ashford is the Director of Travel Media Marketing and Communications Staff; Phone (205) 214-9213; Email: [email protected]

Contact: Vickie Ashford, Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau to set up your FAM Trip  

IFWTWA 2019 Excellence in Journalism Award

By Allen Cox, IFWTWA 2019 Awards Committee Chair

Each year, IFWTWA extends an invitation for regular members to submit their best published work for the Excellence in Journalism Award. Qualifying entries for the 2019 award must have appeared in a print or digital publication or as a blog post between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2019. All entries were reviewed and evaluated by a professional editor and scored based on four elements—mechanics, tone, style, and structure.

Jacqui Gibson scanning New Zealand's Cook Strait for whalesThe 2019 Excellence in Journalism Award goes to Jacqui Gibson for her article "The Kings of Creole," which appeared in Heritage New Zealand magazine. "The Kings of Creole" tells the story of New Orleans chefs and food historians who worked to preserve the city's unique culinary heritage in the years following the catastrophic devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This inspiring and compelling story is one of remarkable determination and cultural resilience.

Kings of Creole article by Jacqui GibsonThe many entries submitted made 2019 an extremely competitive year for the Excellence in Journalism Awards, exemplifying the professional journalistic standards that IFWTWA members consistently strive to meet.

Jacqui received an award certificate, press and social media coverage, and a $500 cash prize. You can read her article here, and learn more about IFWTWA’s Excellence in Journalism Award here.

IFWTWA Awards 2019 Hospitality Education Scholarship

By Allen Cox, IFWTWA 2019 Awards Committee Chair

Every year, IFWTWA is proud to award a scholarship to benefit students preparing for a career in the hospitality industry, which includes culinary and beverage arts, hospitality management, and tourism. IFWTWA members are able to submit candidates via the website, and the Board of Directors votes on and selects the scholarship recipient from among the candidates.

Caroline Culinary Arts LogoFor 2019, the scholarship has been awarded to Chesapeake Culinary Center in Denton, Maryland, an organization that provides high school students and community members an introduction to the foodservice and hospitality industry in preparation for future culinary careers. The program targets displaced youth between the ages of 16 and 21 but is open to all adults seeking a career in the hospitality industry, giving them valuable job skill for future success.

Students at the Center develop and demonstrate skills in safe and sanitary food handling and preparation techniques and learn to prepare a variety of foods. They develop a broad understanding of the types of career options available in the foodservice and hospitality industry and have the opportunity to earn the ServSafe Credential. The educators administering the program hope this model can be eventually be adopted throughout the state of Maryland and the region.

Get to Know Our New Members

By Cori Solomon, Membership Chair

Row of wine glasses with various colored wine


Therese Iknoian avatarTherese Iknoian
Grass Valley, California

Little did my parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages, exploration and cultures. Since that short trip, I have been to all seven continents and about 45 countries. My award-winning writing and photography are at this point primarily published on my own travel website/blog, (in partnership with my husband, Michael Hodgson). Having studied journalism and photography in college, I started out reporting for daily newspapers with my last stop at the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, where I was part of the Pulitzer prize-winning news team. But the entrepreneurial life called: Between getting a masters in exercise physiology, I freelanced for the likes of Backpacker, Self, The Walking Magazine, Women’s Fitness, Health, Parenting, and Fitness (gosh, so many ghosts there!) and wrote several non-fiction books, including two Dummies books. With a professional journalism background, it is important to me to thoroughly research, interview, fact-check and just ask "why" to end up with a story that delves a little deeper than most. Parachute me in somewhere and I'll find something a little off-the-beaten-track to photograph and write about that will entice others to come too. I am also a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association, Adventure Travel Trade Association media member, TravMedia and the Professional Travel Bloggers Association.

Christopher Trela avatarChristopher Trela
Newport Beach, California

Food and wine writer for 15+ years. Weekly dining column in the Newport Beach Independent newspaper (circulation 22,000) and online (100,000+ views per month) since 2001. Monthly Executive Dining Column in the OC Business Journal since 2017 (publication has a firewall on website, can send PDFs if needed). Former wine writer for OC Wine Magazine. Also travel articles for Newport Beach Independent. Also a photographer with 30 years experience, I shoot most of my own photos for dining and travel articles.

MaryRose Denton avatar

MaryRose Denton
Mount Vernon, Washington

MaryRose Denton is a freelance writer, traveler, licensed massage therapist, yoga teacher, lifelong vegetarian, and most importantly a mother. She enjoys the mash up of these that life brings and writes about them with insight, humour, and wit. She writes for several independent travel and lifestyle blogs, in print publications and has her own website. She is currently working on a book project. She is a member of the International Travel Writers and Photography Alliance, TravMedia Journalist, International Association for Professional Writers and Editors, Travel Massive WA, and Media Kitty.

Caroline Lupini avatarCaroline Lupini
Williamston, Michigan

I started freelance writing in 2014 and have since built this up to my full-time career. I primarily cover travel, travel hacking, and personal finance, but I'm passionate about food and would like to expand into that arena as well. My primary clients currently are Business Insider and NerdWallet, but I have also written for The Points Guy, Orbitz, Cheap Tickets, Travelocity, Lonely Planet, Cebu Pacific's in-flight magazine, and more.

Michael Hodgson avatarMichael Hodgson
Grass Valley, California

Born to British parents in Canada and now residing in the United States, I am still trying to decide on an accent. I am a winner of multiple national writing awards, including a 2018 Silver Medal from the North American Travel Journalists Association for travel writing excellence. I have authored more than 16 books (some of which are still in print much to my surprise) and I has penned (can you say that when you used a computer?) many hundreds of feature articles over the years. My bylines have appeared in Backpacker, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Outside, The San Jose Mercury News, Portland Oregonian and numerous now defunct magazines and websites (I am fairly sure my contributions did not lead to any going out of business). My writing and photography is primarily published on my own travel website / blog,, that I operate in partnership with my wife, Therese Iknoian, also an award-winning writer and photographer. In addition to being a proud new member of IFWTWA, I am also a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Professional Travel Bloggers Association.

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 each of you 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! 



Joseph Hilbers avatarJoseph Hilbers
Winnetka, California




Deborah Lander avatarDebi Lander
Ocala, Florida

I’m Debi Lander, freelance writer, photographer and public speaker specializing in travel, food and lifestyle. My global explorations focus on historic and cultural sites, unique lodging options, culinary experiences and adventure activities. I adore poking around small quirky museums, conquering medium sized cities, and taking large adventures. In 2015, I ventured to Tanzania, Africa on a volunteer vacation, and spent six-months slow- traveling through Europe in 2016. I’ve driven a tank, gone skydiving and explored underground salt mines. I’ve toured over 60 countries reporting on the small French-owned islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon (near Newfoundland), the volcano-destroyed capital of Montserrat in the West Indies, and the remote Orkney Islands in Scotland. I ascended in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey, observed sunrise on Mt Haleakala, Hawaii, before biking down the mountain, and visited an elephant sanctuary in India.

I answer to Mimi as grandmother of eight, live on a horse farm in Ocala, Florida, and am an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers and IFWTWA. North Florida residents have been reading my Florida Newsline monthly travel column for the past seven years. Other publications include Business Jet Traveler (print and online), DeSoto Magazine (print), Ocala’s Good Life, (print), Boomer website -,,, and a trade journal for meetings/ incentive travel planners: Facilities & Destinations Magazine. 

My own website,, contains highlights from my travel journal, while my food blog at ByLanderSea-Food features culinary articles, restaurant reviews and recipes, as well as bite size nuggets about what’s happening in my own kitchen. Judy Wells and I jointly write the blog: Good Girls in the Icon Undies named me one of their 5 Badass Grandmas for 2018! I hope you will explore the world through my writing and award-winning photography.


Alison Abbott avatarAlison Abbott
West Newton, Massachusetts 

Alison Abbott is an award winning travel writer and photographer with a focus on sustainable shades of green living. Her travels have taken her around the globe to off the beaten path destinations, but India holds a special place in her heart. As a Baby Boomer who loves adventure, she has swum with pink dolphins in the Amazon, crossed paths with grizzlies in Alaska and ventured to Chernobyl in Ukraine. Her passion for responsible travel has her singing the praises of keeping it local whether at home or abroad. When not searching out the best of artisans, growers and makers who make a destination unique, you can find her working as editor of the blog she founded, Green With Renvy. Alison is a regular contributor to many on-line publications and is a Local Expert with AFAR Media. Connect with her across social media as @GreenWithRenvy


Mary Farah avatarMary Farah
Along Comes Mary
Van Nuys, California

Mary is a Los Angeles native who has been writing on her popular travel and lifestyle blog, Along Comes Mary, since 2012. In addition to Along Comes Mary, she also contributes to a variety of online magazines including Locale and FWT. Mary loves to highlight all a destination has to offer, while also offering resources for where to find the best gluten-free dining. 

Mary has served on the IFWTWA Board of Directors since 2017 — first as Social Media Chair, and now on the Executive Board as Secretary. 

Board Notes

By Linda Kissam, President

Board Notes

Notes from the December 13, 2019 Board of Directors meeting:

We end the 2019 year in the black. Our total assets show strong financial and fiduciary management allowing us to move forward with several cash-assisted projects in 2020. More information on that in my next report after the Board approves the top three goals for 2020.

The financial statements are prepared by Samuel Jew, Certified Public Accountant, in accordance with the cash-basis of accounting.

NOVEMBER 30, 2019

Cash and cash equivalents  - Checking      18,883
Cash and cash equivalents  - Savings 56,640
Total Assets  


As I have said many times before, the website is an ongoing progress. We continue to tweak it to try to bring it into a totally user friendly space. Our website coordinator could use some help and will train you in as little or as much as you want to be involved. Please contact [email protected]

You can now share IFWTWA blog posts that show blog image (not logo). If you haven’t visited this page, you should as it is a mini peek at what’s going on with our members and committees. Visit  You can share the blog by copying the link and pasting it in your social media. Contact Deirdre Michalski to submit your own blog post.

Consistent with the decision to create basic public profiles for all members, upon approval of membership, all existing profiles containing bios/images are now set to “public” view. This means anyone going on to our website can see an abbreviated version of each member’s profile. The whole profile can only be seen by signing in. Members can op-out of a public profile simply by going to their profile and changing the setting.

Each year, the Association gives out two awards—one scholarship to a member and one scholarship to a community entity involved in tourism or hospitality. The invitation to participate in the Journalism Award is sent out to all members in the fall. An invitation to all members to nominate a culinary or tourism entity to receive a scholarship for one of their students is also sent out in the fall by the Awards Committee.

Our Excellence in Journalism Award 2019 award winner is member Jacqui Gibson. She has been presented with a $500 cash award and certificate. Our Hospitality Education Scholarship Award 2019 Award winner is Chesapeake Culinary Arts in Denton, MD. The institution has been sent a $1000 scholarship award to be given out to a deserving student.  Thanks goes to Allen Cox for his tremendous work on this project. Allen will be chairing the 2020 awards. He can use committee members starting in the fall of 2020.  


Food, Wine, Travel Magazine's content is secure.
Is your work safe?

It's a fact: unprotected content is subject to theft. Scammers love to right-click a series of personal images to create a phantom life story or creative resume. Stop them from taking your digital content (pdf’s, images, text, sounds, etc.) with Digiprove — 40% discount for members.  

Membership Benefit: Digiprove

IFWTWA will continue to offer members up to 40% saving through 2020. Digiprove works on any file type. No data is sent to Digiprove, just the Digital Fingerprint so privacy (and secrecy) is assured. Protect your personal and professional digital data with Digiprove. 

If you have taken out any of the subscriptions with Digiprove, you will be able to use your Digiprove ID and password to log in at:

There you will find features like a history of all the articles or blogs that you Digiproved through the website.

  • Select “Digiprove Now - Files”
  • Select “Obtain Digiprove Certificate of content without uploading any file” and “Auto-calculate digital fingerprint(s) from your content file(s)”
  • Press “Next”
  • Select the file you want to protect from your machine (you will see a series of numbers and text which is a “digital fingerprint”
  • Enter a description if required
  • Press “Digiprove”
  • You will see a confirmation screen. Your file has been "Digiproved."

Feedback MattersThank you for helping us develop and continuously improve our new Association (AMS) / Content (CMS) management website system. Your valuable feedback is always welcomed and greatly appreciated. Often, when a member takes the time to explain and walk us through an issue, we find solutions that improve the site and user experience for all members. 

If you have questions about your profile or the website, please reach out. Don't struggle alone—we learn when we problem-solve together. Do you have recommendations for future content? Did you see an error, or notice something missing? Please provide your feedback in a quick email. Again, thank you for being our testers and proofreaders. Happy 2020!

~ Hilarie Larson, IFWTWA Administrative Director
~ Adrianne Morrison, IFWTWA Site Content Manager

IFWTWA Resources: Connect with our members and experts 

Espresso ToastConnect 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.

Reach out today! It's fun and mutually beneficial to network with your colleagues. Learn from each other and grow your own and fellow member's career goals and online presence. We know you are busy, on-the-move professionals so your participation in IFWTWA is very much appreciated.

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Chris Cutler
Executive Editor

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