Issue one of Fool Magazine — a look at the world's greatest gastronomic players and the ideas and collaborators that inspire them — is hitting the newsstands (it's also available online). The magazine comes from the husband-and-wife team of Per-Anders Jorgensen and Charlotta Jorgensen. Per-Anders has made a name for himself as a food photographer, and Charlotta as an art director and editor. Together, pretty much on their own, they've put together a 150-page first issue that includes a Proust questionnaire with Hervé This, a behind the scenes look at Mugaritz, a profile of Australian chef Ben Shewry, and a bunch more examples of heady, visceral, thoughtful work. In the following interview, Per-Anders describes how the idea came about and what sets the publication apart.
How did this idea come about?
It's actually quite an old idea. My wife Charlotta was an art director of Swedish Gourmet Magazine fifteen years ago, and she was the one who hired me. We had talked about wanting a fresh look at food and not your normal kind of food photography. We eventually got married, about ten years ago, and almost immediately we had the urge to do something together – a magazine. She actually registered the domain eight years ago. And by the way, we actually got married at Mugaritz!
How would you describe your vision for this?
When you work in this world of food and interact with these very talented, top creators, you notice that a lot of publications focus on just "the nice" stuff, when in fact there is much that is edgy and fun.
So you're going for something that's, for lack of a better way of putting it, more "authentic"?
Yeah. Things have obviously evolved since we started thinking about this, but our idea is pretty much the same. We have no recipes. Well, the only ones we have are for a duck buried in the ground by Magnus Nilsson and for an omelette by his duck farmer Peter, which is actually quite hilarious for a gastronomy magazine. If you buy Vogue, for instance, you don't expect to find sewing patterns. If you buy Interior Design, they won't tell you how to build a chair. It's more about visuals and inspiring people, and that's what we are after.
What are some highlights from Issue 1 that would reflect those ideas?
First I should point out the inspiration for the name. It combines "food" and "foolishness." You realize working in this world that these top chefs really have that playfulness and foolishness. That's one of the things we want to point out.
I think the story about Magnus and Peter's ducks is extraordinary.
Tell me about that.
We spend a lot of time with our subjects. We went to Magnus like twice to do the story. During that time, we got to know his duck producers and realized that they had a truly interesting point of view, that they even looked different, and we tried to immerse ourselves in that.
This is a small operation?
It's only two of us. To be quite frank, we didn't have the money to hire loads of people, so it's a small operation.
Do you want to keep that way?
At this point we have to keep it like this to do it the way we want to do. It's very hard work, but it's also very rewarding. I think we want to keep it fairly small, but of course, if someone comes along and offers us loads of money to do it more frequently, hell yes. Of course. We fund it ourselves right now, save for a few advertisers.
You mention this interest in the edgy, but how do you distinguish yourself in a world when several publications, like Lucky Peach, are already moving in a more alternative direction?
First off, I really love Lucky Peach and Gastronomica and Meatpaper, to name a few. We are European, from Northern European, and I think we bring that perspective. That's what distinguishes us.
How would you describe your perspective?
There's a growing interest in Nordic gastronomy, because of Noma and other restaurants. We're basically thirty minutes away from there and we know those guys very well. It's very hard to describe, but we try to do things in the simplest, most natural way, even though there is nothing simple about the process. I think that's it, in a nutshell.
Any last words?
When we first took this to Spain eleven years ago, to Mugaritz, the people we showed the magazine to couldn't read the words. They could only see the pictures. We wanted the magazine to be very, very visual. We wanted to create something evocative and communicative. You could buy it no matter where you're from and you will understand in some sense.
Also, there is so much attention to detail. Like I mentioned, we are two people, but we spend so much time making these things happen.
It may look like it's just about chefs, but we really spend time thinking about broader themes — the idea for issue one was "Naturals," for instance — that makes it something more.