If Martha Stewart and Lady Gaga Launched a Food Magazine…

·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Food
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GIF: Samantha Bolton for Yahoo Food

The latest cover signals that Gather Journal isn’t your average food magazine. On display is a rainbow-bright slice of fairy bread, the Australian childhood treat made with butter and nonpareils, standing at attention in a Plexiglas rack. What better way to illustrate the new issue’s theme,“Spectrum,” in which every page is dedicated to food of a different hue, including black and white. It’s as timely as it is tasty.

Clearly, the indie magazine is art driven, but editor Fiorella Valdesolo said Gather Journal is truly food first. “Our goal is for people to cook from Gather; that’s why we chose a recipe-driven format,” she explained. “We use food as a means of telling a story. And I think our visuals have really become our signature; they pull readers into this fantastical little world that we build around each theme.”

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Photo: Samantha Bolton

Valdesolo, a Brooklyn-based writer and editor, launched Gather in May 2012 with creative director Michele Outland. The two met while working at Nylon, the downtown New York fashion publication specializing in youth culture, and they bonded over a love of food and magazines. They dreamed of doing an editorial project together, and something tied to their shared interest in cooking made sense. “We both cook at home a lot, which can be a bit of an anomaly in New York since it’s such an amazing city to eat through, and we come from households where cooking and eating was revered,” said Valdesolo.

The first issue took a village. Maggie Ruggiero and Molly Shuster came onboard as contributing recipe editors and Theo Vamvounakis as contributing prop stylist. “We called in a ton of favors from writer and photographer friends, started with a small print run of 1,500 copies, and crossed our fingers that anyone besides our parents would buy it,” Valdesolo recalled.

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The founders of Gather Journal Michele Outland and Fiorella Valdesolo. (Photo: Jas Tang)

The duo was onto something, as “Spectrum” is their seventh issue. They chose color as the theme after a long, cold New York City winter. “It was dark and bleak and dismal for some months, so color was something we were really craving,” said Valdesolo. “As we started thinking about color in relation to food, it felt like such a great fit — after all, for many of us, we eat with our eyes first and color figures prominently in that.” The issue is structured so that each chapter is a complete meal within a specific shade. “So if you want a whole meal in green, we can make that happen.”

Tackling a range of dishes from a color perspective was an interesting challenge, but not a limiting one. “When you are zeroing in on color specifically, you realize the vast breadth that the spectrum of what we eat encompasses,” said Valdesolo. “I think I developed a special appreciation for all the neutrals and earth tones; there really are some beautiful nuances within that color family.” The biggest surprise? How few naturally blue foods exist in the world.

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Photo: Samantha Bolton

As for recipe highlights from the issue, Valdesolo loves the soft, slow-scrambled eggs with roasted cherry tomatoes: “I could eat that pretty much every day.” And then there’s her mother’s tiramisu recipe. “I’ve been making and eating it my whole life and it’s phenomenally good.”

The Gather crew recently launched its first app in collaboration with Studio Mercury and Adobe. The app includes kitchen playlists, plus all the recipes that have appeared in the magazine. Instead of a one-time price, the app costs $9.99 per year, or 99 cents for monthly access. (Magazine subscribers get the app for free.)

For those in the New York area, there’s a Gather Journal pop-up shop at Space Ninety 8 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, now through Sept. 28, featuring a range of products curated by Valdesolo and Outland and inspired by the “Spectrum” issue.  

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Gather Journal pop-up shop at Space Ninety 8 is open now through Sept. 28. (Photo: Heidi Lee)

More stories about color and food:

The Coolest Kitchen Paint Colors

Vibrant Garlic and Greens Soup Recipe

Rainbow Popsicle Recipe