A Conversation with Gather Journal

With insanely unique photography and expressive prose, each of Gather Journal’s collectible issues has the spirit and freshness of a zine,  one put out by seriously top-notch publishing talent.  Their contributors list is peppered with RISD grads, New Yorker-approved writers and illustrators, and Russh magazine alums. Issue 3’s Rough Cut Summer Film Series with its evocative slashed pie cover remains a Small Bevy favorite. A flip through its pages treats the reader to a culinary interpretation of Hitchcock and Wes Anderson’s works, reenactments of famous food scenes and summer camp-inspired dishes.  Their most recent effort explores color, organizing meals by shade with articles that include childhood remembrances of Mountain Dew and a babysitter’s cheeky bit about a child who would only eat red foods. I, for one, always appreciate the spot-on musical analogies. “Lady in Red” is referenced to describe a berry galette or The Smith’s “There is a Light and it Never Goes Out” accompanies an art series exploring fruit and its auras.

The unexpected images art directed by Michele Outland and the accompanying copy edited by Fiorella Valdesolo have elevated the culinary print format and (in our opinion) have inspired the big guns to up their game. They also continue to offer limited-edition collaborative products through their e-shop. We have our eye on the tastefully psychedelic tote emblazoned with a favorite Rolling Stone line, “She Comes in Colors Everywhere” and so do these interesting two. We caught up with the creative duo and their canine mascot Isabel at Fiorella’s adorable Carroll Gardens pad. Read on to find out their food heroines, signature dishes and what restos they frequented all summer long.

Origin Story

Fiorella:  Michele and I met at Nylon, I was the beauty director and Michelle was the art director and we always just loved working together. We both went freelance at the same time. The grind of freelancing can get monotonous. Gather Journal was born out of a need to do something creative that felt like our own. We founded it in 2012, people thought we were nuts to do print, but we have always been super-commited to the print format.  We came to the theme of food in a round about way, it’s just what we always talk about.

Michele: We wanted to use a much more specific, personal voice and create something that would still feel special years from now.

How do you go about recruiting talent to contribute to the various issues?

Fiorella: Friends for sure, a lot come from style land (Fiorella is a contributing writer to style.com and her work has appeared in New York, Wall Street Journal, Teen Vogue, Vogue and more).  I really appreciate a mix of backgrounds in my writers.  Food is a universal experience.  Everyone remembers stories surrounding food and presenting varied viewpoints makes the issues more interesting.

You both have busy freelance careers how do you manage both freelance and Gather Journal?

Fiorella: I take on office projects because it helps with your sanity to reconnect to office culture, I often wind up doing maternity leave coverage which is a perfect amount of time.

Michele: Freelancing is liberating (Michelle freelances for shelter magazines like Martha Stewart Living) but I also tell people about the hustle. It’s important to market yourself which can be challenging if that isn’t part of your nature. In terms of Gather Journal, I’d say about 80 percent of our time is spent doing administrative tasks and 20 percent is creative.

Fiorella: Yes, the annoying stuff has gotten easier but it’s still pretty hateful. Shipping is probably the biggest annoyance, dealing with the US Postal Service but we’re a small team and it just has to get done. Creatively though its just gotten better with each issue, I think we’ve found our footing. We take about 5 months to put out an issue so we have time to really hone in and develop each theme. But its really quite seemless. We’re best friends and are seeing the same art and watching the same films so we are often just on the same wavelength when it comes time to brainstorm an issue.  We keep a running list of words that inspire us and that is always our starting point.

Female Food Heroes

Fiorella: Julia Child is big for me. I grew up watching her as a kid and her voice is so ingrained in my memory. I also love the way she fell into food, it was kind of a backdoor thing in her 40s which is really inspiring.

Michelle: I’ve done a lot of work as an art director for Martha Stewart Living. I’ve had plenty of one-on-one interaction with her and I give her so much credit. So many of the food editors at Living are women and spending so much time in their company watching them run their own thing has been such an influence.

The essence of Martha Stewart Living is teaching you how to do things and our mission is similar, we want to inspire people to cook. I also love her sense of humor. She was by far the funniest one at the Justin Bieber roast. Totally raunchy, here is a clip.

Making it Work

Fiorella: We have a similar sensibility the majority of the stuff we like is the same (Ed. Note.  Please notice their similar Black Crane kimono ensembles) but Michele is definitely a better organizer

Michele: I’m detail-oriented, it comes with the profession!

Signature Dishes

Fiorella: Risotto. I’m Italian!

Michele: We both cook a lot of food from our respective cultures so I do a lot of Korean.

Gather Journal’s Summer-to-Fall Bevy

We loved the Frida Kahlo Garden Exhibit and the Yoko Ono show, that’s two of our favorite women right there!

Three’s Brewing : I feel like Stefon from SNL rattling off all the stuff this place has. Amazing selection of local beer and wine, a perfect shoebox-sized performance space, spin your own vinyl nights, a sick backyard, and a revolving schedule of pop-up restaurants like Roberta’s and Franny’s.

Via Carota and Take Root: Both have seriously delicious food, a great vibe, and, most thrillingly, are both owned by pairs of women: Rita Sodi and Jody Williams at Via Carota, and Elise Kornack and Anna Hieronimus at Take Root.

Navy: We can go back to Camille Casera’s spot over and over again. Her approach to fish and crudo is so light-handed and nuanced. You can taste all the ingredients.

Magazines That Inspire

New York magazine, digital and print, Afar and Travel Almanac

Fiorella’s Beauty Bevy

Touche Eclat YSL, Dr. Gross Alpha Beta Peel,  for skincare anything Sunday Riley or Pacific/True Nature Botanicals, Olo Fragrance , Lipstick Queen and Ilia makeup

Jimena Garcia: She’s an eyebrow specialist who works mostly out of LA but sets up in the back room of TenOverTen. She’s an artist at heart.`

Photography by Winnie Au

  1. Alexa
    |  2015-11-15 09:21:43
    Thank you for this interview - I so much love Gather Journal! Best food magazine I´ve ever seen so far. Fresh, creative, with stunning photography and love the recipes. Also there is plenty of great writing. Can not wait for next issues! Greetings from Europe.

Comments are closed.