Husband-and-wife team Per-Anders and Lotta Jorgensen have just released the second issue of their food magazine Fool. Despite being put together on a shoestring, the inaugural issue was a success, and Per-Anders says that all 5,000 copies have been sold. Quite something for a publication with a decidedly quirky, arty bent. The follow up, available at select stores and online, is based loosely around the idea "below the surface." That includes everything from chefs pushing the envelope in China, to a restaurateur in Andalucia who literally must go deep into the ocean to source his products. In the following interview, Per-Anders talks about what readers can expect from this and future issues:
How did things go with the first issue?
We took a wild shot, to be honest. We did the magazine we wanted to do without really thinking about or worrying about much else. We're amazed, since we only have 200 copies left.
How many did you print?
We did like 5,000, from our latest estimate. Of course, we gave away some to get the word out.
It seems like a lot of chefs — for example Andoni Aduriz — have really pushed the magazine and tried to get the word out.
We've been working with many of these people for years, so we have a reputation for doing things a certain way, which helps. People can trust us, and they want to support something like this.
Tell me about this issue? Was there a particular theme?
Yes, the theme is "below the surface." That can mean a lot of things, so it gave us freedom. It meant that we could literally be below the surface of the water with Angel León in Andalucia. He has an amazing restaurant serving fish, and his life story is also remarkable. I shot him from below in the water. I almost drowned on that shoot! It was so hard.
We've actually planned for issues three and four, believe it or not. The great thing about doing these is the discoveries that we make for ourselves. We traveled to New York and met the baker at Roberta's. She explained how she had worked at Per Se and then all of a sudden decided to go across the river to work at a pizzeria. Those things, you only find them when you sit down and learn about someone. It's what makes the process fun.
What are some other highlights? Attica chef Ben Shewry wrote something for this one, right?
He wrote about a surf trip in California. He writes about how they did surf, but that part of the magic was eating tacos all over the place up and down the coast. His tag line is, "How $1.20 changed my culinary perception." It's a great story.
There's a story from a chef who was doing well in the 90s but decided to quit and become a psychologist. That story's called "From the Kitchen to the Couch." It's a very honest story about what kitchens can be like and what people do to each other. Of course, he writes about it from the psychological perspective.
Will people notice any differences in your approach this time, compared to the inaugural issue?
There are some differences that Lotta, my wife and the designer, has made. We worked through some things that we didn't really think worked. If you're a geek, you will notice. But if not, you'll have about the same experience.
What can we expect from future issues?
I don't want to say too much, but we will be pushing the idea of going to places very, very far away — places that we aren't familiar with. The Chinese story in this issue is an indication of where we'd like to go. It talks about Chinese high-end cooking right now.
Tell me about that story, since not too many people are talking about China these days?
There are two restaurants in China from the same owner, Dai Jianjun. One is Long Jing Cao Tang (Dragon Well Manor) outside Hangzhou. They actually have a development chef, which is similar to what restaurants in the U.S. and Europe are doing. They also have a garden. Without having been to these places, they kind of mimic it. We tried to remove the cliché aspects of Chinese food photography when we shot the dishes, so that we could highlight the actual food. You see that it's cutting edge food, not stereotypical Chinese food.
Any last words?
We're really everywhere now. It's really spread out. We have so many people in Australia, in Austria of all spaces. It's surprising and super cool. The standards are so high with food magazines now, but I think that we've delivered and also maintained the playfulness we always wanted to have.