Certain food or dishes are very close to our hearts and can take us to a rich world of emotions. Gather Journal, based in New York, is a biannual magazine that lets food tell the story of how they connects us. Interview with editor Fiorella Valdesolo.
Baron: How did it all begin?
Fiorella Valdesolo: We launched Gather Journal in the summer of 2012. Our goal was to create a publication that is incredibly beautiful and entirely practical at the same time, hence the recipe-driven format. Each issue is designed to have a shelf life beyond
the traditional magazines, something you can return to again and again for inspiration and ideas. We felt like while there were many wonderful food magazines out there, none had been able to successfully marry inventive, high-concept visuals, fresh writing and down-to-earth cooking ideas and advice. That’s the niche that we hope Gather fills.
B.: Editorial wise….
FV. : Each issue of Gather is driven by a theme—a word that inspires the content, both literally and in more abstract ways. For the first issue that theme was “float”, which translated to a parade of dishes light-as-air both in their appearance and execution. For
our second issue the word of choice was “traces”; with a multitude of meanings, it resulted in dishes that left an impression on the palate or the eye, or referenced cherished family histories. We treat food as the ultimate storyteller, recognizing it with every issue because it is so tied up with memories and experiences, there is no greater form of expression. Our ultimate mission with Gather is that our words and recipes will inspire a sense of wonder, a smile, and, most importantly, a desire to cook and gather together to enjoy a meal.
B.: Why choose print? what kind of paper you use and why? typography?
FV. : The vast majority of both mine and Michele’s background is in print publications, so, first and foremost, we have a great understanding of that medium. More importantly though, we simply adore print! There is something uniquely appealing about the
tangible experience of turning a real page that just can’t be replicated in the virtual world. And there is a feeling of longevity with print that feels especially apropos considering our goal with Gather is to have staying power on your bookshelf. With the
paper, we spent a lot of time with our printer combing over different uncoated stocks. For the cover we settled on a textured linen without any gloss which felt sophisticated and fitting for a journal format and left a lovely tactile impression, while for the inside
we found a sheet that could manage ink coverage really well and serve as the ideal vehicle for reproducing the lush food images. The typography (a couple of serifs, sans serifs and a condensed font) fits the personality of the publication: current and cool but
also timeless. Most important with the type landscape was of course legibility—after all, we want to make sure the magazine is serving its main purpose.
B.: How’s the public’s response so far?
FV. : The public’s response has been great and more positive than we could have ever hoped for, and I think that has everything to do with our broad appeal—some people pick it up for the provocative images and design, then get pulled into the text and recipes, while others have the exact opposite trajectory. It’s hugely important for us that we remain approachable and appealing to a wide swath of people. What has been most gratifying is all the positive feedback and pictures we get from readers who love to cook using the issue.
B.: Great print magazines get a lot of love but that is not always translated into sales or advertising. How are the sales? Advertising wise, is it a normal approach of selling an ad page or is it more of a brand ad approach?
FV. : Some thought we were nuts to go into print, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover there are many as paper-obsessed people out there as the two of us. With our first issue, we started with a print run of 1,500 which quickly sold out, so we upped it to 1,000. With our second fall/ winter edition out now we even doubled that to a print run of 6,000. Our list of domestic and international stockists has continued to grow and we are now carried in a huge number of small boutiques and also large chain stores like Anthropologie and West Elm. With advertising we do take a traditional approach of selling an ad page or spread. The only difference is that we limit the amount of ads we accept and aim to choose just brands that feel in line with the overall vision of the magazine.
B.:Recipe: Can you give us your best Gather Journal recipe?
FV. : The recipe we currently have in heavy kitchen rotation is our mushroom on toast appetizer from the current fall/ winter edition. The recipe is below.
Mushroom on toast
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
4 scallions, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
10 wild mushrooms such as maitake, trumpet, or oyster, torn into small clusters if large
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp cup chopped flat leaf parsley
6 slices bread for toasting
Whisk sour cream and flour together in a small bowl.
Cook scallions, butter, and 1/4 tsp. Each salt and pepper in a skillet until scallions are tender. Add cream and simmer until just thickened, for about 2 minutes. Stir in sour cream mixture and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup cheese. (This can be made 3 days ahead and kept chilled until you’re ready to serve.) Heat oil in a large skillet until it is hot. Add
mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until golden, for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in parsley and remove from heat. Toast the breads until just golden in an oven or a toaster and then set oven to broil. Arrange toasts on a baking sheet and generously spread with scallion-cream and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Broil until brown and bubbly. Finally top with mushrooms.