The name is the same as York’s events company, through which she throws debates and dinners for foodies. ”It’s all about celebrating food and the wonderful people behind what we eat and drink,” she told us. “Our events are fun and informative, but they are fleeting, so we looked to create something more permanent. A space for writers, chefs, illustrators and photographers to explore the topics that matter most to them, irrespective of trends. Toast magazine is the result.”
You won’t find recipes or restaurant reviews in this annual publication; its focus is long-form essays about all things both British and culinary (yes, fish and chips included). Here, York tells us a bit more about Toast.
Why launch a print magazine, when digital is so much more affordable?
I wanted to create something timeless, something people would collect and keep on their bookshelves, taking it down from time to time to read a story or gaze at the beautiful photographs and illustrations. I’m also a sucker for paper and ink—the tactile nature of thick matte paper, the weight in your hands—it’s satisfying. Plus we’re striving to revive long-form food journalism (something that’s in decline in the U.K.), so it makes sense to have something you can curl up with on a comfy chair and linger over.
Independent magazines are thriving right now—it’s a really interesting space to be in. Plus it’s about time magazines caught up with the amazing food culture that’s developing here in London and the rest of the U.K.. The world of food is a big place. It’s not just about the hottest restaurant or recurrent seasonal recipe. It’s about the details, the people, the stories, and the big ideas. And it’s personal, too—everyone has their own individual likes, loves, quirks, and obsessions.
What is your must-read story from the first issue?
There’s a great article on the British obsession with crisps with amazing illustrations from Joel Penkman. Helena Lee’s autobiographical piece on growing up in a suburban Chinatown is brilliant. Jojo Tulloh has written a fictional piece based on a French detective series–not something you’ll see in most food magazines! I’m also very grateful to Heather and Georgia Bateman, who gave us permission to print an article by the late Michael Bateman, a pioneer of modern food journalism—on fish and chips, of course.
What’s your plan for the next issue?
In general, we approach writers, photographers and illustrators we admire and discuss ideas with them rather than simply commissioning pieces on set topics. I’d love to have more non-food writers writing about food in the next issue—I think it’ll bring some interesting perspectives into the mix.
For someone in the U.S. to order an issue, it costs 23 dollars plus shipping. What makes it worth the price?
The truth is it’s very expensive to print a magazine independently, especially when it’s a limited run and there’s little or no advertising. However, as it’s an annual, it’s not much if you consider you’re only paying that once a year. I hope that when people see and feel the magazine they’ll realize that it’s of very high quality—the thick, textured cover and the fact that it’s thread-bound like a book means that it should last a long time.
What can we expect from the forthcoming website?
We’ll be launching editorial on the website very soon—it’ll be completely different from the magazine, though. The focus will be on people, from interviews with restaurant front-of-house [staff] to spotlights on artists and craftsmen creating anything from beautiful ceramics to sturdy cast-iron pots. As with the magazine, there’ll be lots of illustration and the odd photo essay.
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