Fool Magazine returns this week with its third issue, which features Charleston chef Sean Brock on the cover and even more insight to the world of restaurants inside. Now that Fool has been named best food magazine in the world and sold out its first two issues, husband-and-wife editorial team Per-Anders and Lotta Jorgensen are upping the ante. For this issue, they're doubling the production to 10,000 copies (available online and at select resellers). Per-Anders says the magazine arrived today at their warehouse in Sweden and will soon be distributed across the world. Here now, he also shares a sneak peek into what's inside this latest issue, loosely organized around a theme of "origins." There's an in-depth look at Brock beyond the Southern stereotypes, a search for the most underrated chefs in the world, and an historic account of food in Sweden by none other than Magnus Nilsson.
Congrats on issue three coming out. You're sold out of the first two issues, right?
Yes we are. We are totally sold out. Actually, I went to a city like 30 minutes away from here and to a specialist store for magazines. I asked them about Fool and they said, "Oh yeah, we have so many people asking for it. When is it coming out?" Well, probably this week or next week you will have it. It's a good sign. Being a king in your own city is very hard, in Sweden especially.
Yeah. I would say we are much more well known abroad — in certain parts like New York, San Francisco, even London — than in Sweden. That's a strange thing, I would say.
It is. And you got the best food magazine in the world award in December.
Yes. That was a big surprise to us. I think Lucky Peach got the award last year. We received the mail like, "Congratulations, you've been elected best food magazine in the world at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards." We were like what? Is this a joke? But it wasn't. It was quite funny. An accomplishment really.
Yeah, congrats. How has this success allowed you to expand or have you changed operations at all?
No, well, it's kind of interesting because there's a big difference between being a restaurateur in America and Europe. I think it's a big difference also doing a magazine in Europe or America. I'm generalizing now. If you're like David Chang, for instance, you create an empire. You do a restaurant here, you do one in Toronto, you expand. People expect you to expand. Whereas people here in Europe, we are a bit more complacent. We try to do one thing, one restaurant. Like Chateaubriand in Paris for instance? Okay, they have two places now, but still it's a very small operation and it's basically run according to the same rules as when they started out five, six, seven years ago. And I think we're the same. We've only been running for a year and a half now. We're not really planning on expanding. We're still increasing the circulation by 100 percent now, so 10,000 copies now.
Yeah that's pretty good. And the advance orders are really, really good and we're happy about that. We'll see what we do. If a big publishing house comes along and says, "We would like to buy you," of course we would. (laughs) But that's not going to happen. That's not our goal. Our goal is to do the magazine we really couldn't find and tell the stories you really couldn't read anywhere and see the images you couldn't see anywhere. That was our goal, I would say. And people kind of like it.
So tell me about this issue and its Origins theme.
It's a loose theme, so it's something to reflect upon and look at. We have super interesting stories, I would say. The cover guy is Sean Brock. Black-and-white shot, like always. We didn't really plan on that. We tried a couple different ideas for the cover and that stood out so that's the one. Another guy in black-and-white. That's more like a Sean Brock Charleston portfolio story because we spent like five days with him in Charleston trying to tell about his world in images. It's quite a unique insight into this special guy's world.
Sean Brock, there's been so much written about him. But he's just as diverse as his restaurants or his cuisine. That's what we wanted to reflect as well. He's a very serious guy reading books in a suit, and he's also the guy that goes 'round shooting stuff. Also we wanted to tone down this kind of Southern thing, to get away from the stereotypes in a way. He's much more than that. And hopefully we succeeded without losing the playfulness because he's so playful.
And then something I like very much, everybody asks all the time who is the best chef in the world? Which is the best restaurant in the world? It's all about being the best, the best, the best. Honestly, we all know there is no such thing really. It's all about personal preferences. And the one with the best PR, maybe. Anyway, we asked more than 100 food personalities who is the most underrated chef. And that came out really interesting.
Yeah, it's very diverse. I was expecting somebody to stand out, but no way. We have like maybe three people that stand out. We received some very, very thoughtful responses, like René Redzepi wrote an email to us and we published it because it's so good. And some other people said it's all the mothers in the world that cook each day for us. All the world's best chefs have replied and, I would say, 90 percent of the biggest journalists have replied, too.
And it's very diverse. That we can say. Well, two of them say, "I" or "myself."
Oh they do? Of course, why not.
Yeah, why not. But then we also have Magnus Nilsson, he's writing about the history of food in Sweden because so many people asked us [to] write about Sweden. Sometimes you're too close to see that it could be interesting to anybody. So we gave Magnus the assignment of telling about Swedish food, including the story about the king who died from poisoned pea soup. There's so many fascinating stories of our history of food. So yeah that's kind of cool.
We also have a manga comic strip. We've got quite a few Japanese stories, one about a Frenchman, really one of the greatest winemakers, a biodynamic guy named Jean-Marc Brignot. He left France, he got so tired of France. He had a Japanese wife and they decided to move to Japan, to an island called Sado. We went to him and we did some shots and stories. We met him and his wife and everything. But I couldn't quite know how to tell the story about this fascinating guy, so we decided, why not make like a manga comic about him?
I love that.
Yeah, we had a fantastic illustrator draw this, an American guy called Ryan Inzana. The funniest thing is he has a Japanese wife, too. So he was really into all this. It came out very, very so great, humorous about one person and his choice in life and the challenges of moving to a country like Japan.
How long is the manga?
It should be like six full pages. It's witty, it's funny, it's warm. I laugh every time I read it. It's so cool.
I had seen that you were traveling in Japan and in Thailand too.
Yes. We write about high-end food, chefs and restaurants, but we try to seek out people that we feel need and deserve attention and really, truly have something to say to the food world. It's very much about going behind the stereotypes, like actually spending time with people. We went to a place called Miyamasou in Kyoto. Hardly anyone had heard of it. I spoke to David Kinch. He knew about it, of course. That's a place and a mentality we wanted to tell the world about, the soft-spoken Japanese place.
And the same goes for Thailand and David Thompson. I don't know how much you know about David Thompson. He came to Thailand I think 28 years ago from Australia. He's basically resurrected and saved Thai cuisine by himself by collecting, seeking out and gathering old Thai recipes, often from funeral books. Without him, there is a big risk the true Thai cuisine could have been lost. The Thai cuisine is so ill-treated and misused around the world you can hardly recognize it, I would say, compared to what he cooks or what it really should be. There's a lesson in there, I think, for many chefs.
All our stories, they might look like one thing, but there's always a lesson somewhere in there to people. You can look at it as, okay, here's a story about a guy who spent 28 years in Thailand and cooking food that's pretty spicy. But you can also learn so much more about a man and the fine balance and the produce that they use. The Thai cuisine is so much about balance, balance, balance. Everybody can learn from that.
How do you decide which stories you want to go after?
It's about when we meet people, these stories develop. David Thompson came out of [when] we were in Australia for Issue #1 and met Ben Shewry. Ben Shewry of Attica is a very good friend, worked for David Thompson. And he spoke so highly of David and he said, "Balance, balance, balance. It's all about balance." And we wanted to find out what is this balance thing? We wanted to go and meet him. So that's Ben Shewry's fault or credit, really. All these things they develop because we read things, we see things and they develop in our brains. If you're open and you meet people and you get influences and you trust yourself.
Another story, an idea I had a long time ago, I wanted to find out how does foodstuff look in the electron microscope, extremely close-up. We're talking like from 500 to 10,000 times magnification. So eventually I found a guy at a university who was willing to help me. I got some very interesting produce. I was going after mold and those things because everybody speaks about fermentation. So I got some stuff from the old cellars of Rip Van Winkle, the very famous bourbon. They sent that to me; Sean Brock helped me out. I got some very small piece of Magnus Nilsson's grandmother's baking tray. I got some stuff from the Noma lab which they fermented. We went really close combat with these things and those images are really kind of stunning, I must say. Weird.
That sounds really cool. I love that you're just chasing your dream stories.
Yeah, that's what you can do basically. It's hard, too, because we don't have that much money. We always pay people, but then you have to approach people at the university and say, "Please can you help me? When you do your research, you bill people thousands of dollars and I can't pay you that."
I'm glad you were able to find somebody. One other thing I noticed from the coverlines was the perfect restaurant according to Matt Orlando. Have you been to Amass?
Matt is a guy who obviously we've known him for quite some time. He always came across a very special person. He's not that young, he's like 36 or something like that and he's been around so much. We met him and he is very particular. We discovered that him creating a restaurant, many people could learn a lot from that — especially people in the industry of course — how to create a perfect restaurant. There are so many mistakes that people do. If there's one person to tell how to do things and how not to do things, it's him. It's both about his restaurant, of course, but it's also about the dos and don'ts of all places that he's been to.
That's really interesting.
What to keep and not to keep. He's very, very honest about everything from Per Se to Noma. He's been in the top positions and has a unique insight into how to build the perfect restaurant. Also we reveal his secret fetishes! He read it and he said, "Wow, it's the best piece I ever read about myself. It's so true." Wow, thanks so much. It's written by Joe Warwick, who wrote the book about Where Chefs Eat.
Have you already started planning for future issues?
Yes, of course we have definitely. But I can't tell you too much about it. The thing is it takes so much time because we do basically everything ourselves. Now we outsource the packing of the magazines at least, we've got a warehouse that does this.