Food magazines/journals/blogs – whatever the medium – are more than common these days. And while we applaud the attention that food – and a greater understanding of it – is getting, there does seem to be an overabundance of the romanticizing of what we eat. Which is why we welcome the launch of a journal that aims to bring a balance to the story – or more accurately, tells and shows the whole story.
Brother, representing the idea of gathering family and friends around a common table, is the brainchild of Ryan Smith, Executive Chef at Empire State South (and soon to be at the upcoming Staplehouse restaurant), and features the talents of photographer Andrew Thomas Lee and designer Alvin Diec. “This came about to be a food mag, but not a chef mag,” Ryan tells us. “I wanted it to be about a journey and a story of how food gets to your plate.”
The idea is that each edition will have a guest writer and focus on one food topic, following it from the farm all the way to the prepared meal. Yet it was important to the trio to be authentic and show everything about the process – not just what was aesthetically pleasing or idyllic. In this case it means telling the story of Brandon Chonko and Grassroots Farm and showing how this purveyor raises and slaughters chickens.
“I met Brandon last year and was really curious about his story and path,” says Ryan. “The topic of chicken is a pretty bold first move, but a very important one. Pasture poultry done right changes the way we eat. And we wanted to share that experience.”
Brother is not gratuitously graphic, but it’s also not sentimental. There’s a respectful authenticity to how the publication presents what ends up on our plates, untainted by any kind of veneered beautification of food.
“When you sit down to eat with a greater understanding of where your food came from, it enhances your experience,” says Andrew. “This is a publication for those who really want to know what’s on their table. We are telling the entire story of food – the pleasant and possibly not-so-pleasant parts.”
The journal is simple yet engaging, with the design and photography displaying a clear picture of each step from Brandon’s farm all the way to Ryan’s dinner table. “ ‘Farm to Table’ is now such an overused phrase that it has lost some of it’s meaning,” Andrew adds. Which is why Brother clearly aims to take us past the mere rhetoric and to the reality of our meals.
“I hope that people open up to the idea of seeing and reading about where food comes from and how it’s raised or grown in the right way,” says Ryan. “Life has greatly changed for me in the past six months, and the food I put in my body is so important.”
The inaugural issue of Brother is $11 ($8 plus shipping) available online or at Ale Yeah and both Octane locations.
Photos by Andrew Thomas Lee