Reader’s Digestif: A Peek Inside Your New Food Bible, Gather Journal

“Food is a universal language, and an incredible way of recounting a person, place, or experience”

Gather Journal's latest cover, photographed by Stacey Mark

Reader’s Digestif is a new series of GOOD Food articles focusing on the changing landscape of food media.

Our first edition features Gather Journal, a brilliant and beautiful print magazine that recently caught our eye on the magazine stand. A few pages into Gather’s latest—the Seven Deadly Sins Issue—and we were salivating at the luxurious pictures, devouring the excellent articles, and dreaming of trying our hand at the recipes. Some examples: the Gluttony section features a Swineapple with Ginger Fried Rice, perfect for “piggin’ out,” and the Greek section has a Baklava that calls for edible gold leaf.

Started in 2012, the magazine is niche, but it’s no secret—they even won a James Beard Award for Visual Storytelling in 2013. We got the scoop from Gather Journal’s editor Fiorella Valdesolo.

Photograph by Stephen Kent Johnson

Describe Gather Journal. What makes Gather different from other food magazines?

We are a biannual, recipe-driven independent publication with each issue’s content driven by a specific theme. Each edition is designed to be evergreen, so it’s something you can keep and refer back to again and again for inspiration. I think Gather’s out-of-the-box visuals and voice really set it apart, and also our unexpected themes. We love the challenge of figuring out how to make topics like natural history or the 1970s relate to food.

How do you see media about food having changed so that Gather is relevent?

I think food media has become infinitely more diverse, giving rise to many incredible niche publications. Gather resonates with readers who are looking for content in the niche media world that feels more authentic and personal; we use food as a vehicle to tell stories and people respond to that.

Photograph by Stacey Mark (from the 70s Issue)

What is your favorite story Gather has published?

It’s so hard to play favorites, but it’s been a dream of mine—since we launched—to do a foodie centerfold, so I'm pretty damn proud of our giant banana from the 1970s issue. I also have to shout out the “Leftovers” essay in our current Sin edition, which frames food waste as our eighth deadliest sin.

Photograph by Gentland Hyers

What is something you would never publish in Gather?

You won’t see the trend-based stories, restaurant reviews, or new product news typical of more mainstream magazines.

What's your favorite thing about working in food media?

I love to cook and eat and drink and talk about all of the above, so it’s a pretty great fit. Food is a universal language, and an incredible way of recounting a person, place, or experience.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]Our main goal with Gather is to inspire people to cook![/quote]

I love the Winter 2017 issue: the Seven Deadly Sins. Can you tell me a little bit about how the issue came together?

The seven sins touch on so many facets of human behavior so it felt like something that would make a really juicy theme. For every edition we will go down a rabbit hole researching the theme, looking at art, watching movies, and listening to music to help inspire ideas for the content.

Photograph by Grant Cornett

Your recipes are so inventive. How are they developed?

We have two phenomenal recipe developers, Maggie Ruggiero and Katy Peetz, who are always up to the challenge of working with us to find creative ways to channel the theme into recipes people will want to cook—because our main goal with Gather is to inspire people to cook!

Photograph by Bobby Fisher

What do you have coming up in the future?

We are about to start working on our next edition, which will come out at the end of May, plus we have some dinner events and parties in the works for this year.

Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

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