Reader’s Digestif: Inside Brutal, The New Fashion Glossy Dedicated To Food
Reader’s Digestif is a new series of GOOD Food articles focusing on the changing landscape of food media.
Our second edition features Brutal, perhaps the only magazine in the world that focuses on the intersection between fashion and food. And it makes for some interesting juxtapositions—a conversation with bakers (Rose and Jean-Charles Carrarini from Rose Bakery) about carrot cake is followed by an interview with a Japanese fashion designer (Sonya Park from Arts & Sciences). In Brutal’s “Space” issue, the photography is top-notch, the articles are engaging, and the recipes are mouthwatering. There’s “A Very Green Seaweed” salad (with a THC-infused dressing) that follows an photo essay featuring nuns who produce cannabis products.
We chatted with Brutal’s editor-in-chief and creative director AnneStine Bae, a Norway-born stylist, about the magazine’s unique palate, and why they print on corn paper.
Describe Brutal. What makes Brutal different from other food magazines?
Brutal is an independent, self-published art magazine, founded in 2014, that focuses on food and fashion. We are always looking for strong intelligent stories from all creative fields, each feature with different angles tying into the theme we have for each issue. Humor is important for us, especially in our visual stories. I believe the difference you’ll find in brutal is the unique combination of things we choose to feature, in a highly curated visual esthetic that in the end works beautifully together. For our third issue—named “Space”—stories of a clothing brand in Tokyo, [called] Arts & Science, comes next to a piece about “weed nuns” in California. That is followed by an outer space visual story, and the boys at [Lower East Side restaurant] Contra. It’s not random; it’s very much the point.
How do you see media about food having changed so that Brutal is relevant?
I definitely see the link between food, fashion, and art being something that is, and has been for quite sometime now, a stronger triangle in all three industries. Food media is definitely more curated, more attuned to, and more inspired by art and fashion then it has before. I also think art and fashion, the same way, is now more evolved around food and food culture as a theme and a setting, if you may.
What is your favorite story Brutal has published?
That’s a tricky one. I personally work on or select each story that we feature, so I see them all as little gems. I’d say that I was very happy with the story we did with Ivan Orkin from Ivan Ramen written by Oliver Strand, shot by Sigurd Widenfalk, and styled by me. I think it was an excellent subject and a gorgeous way of showcasing the only ingredient we had: flour. I also love the story “Smoke” by Tuukka Koski and Camille Becerra for our second issue. The combination of photography and styling is phenomenal.
What is something you would never publish in Brutal?
Massive corporate brands with little sustainability and care for the environment or for their workers; story pitches that are sent to us as a mass email (we love pitches, but not the exact same one you’ll pitch to the 200 other food magazines on the list); or commercial fashion editorials. We will never publish them.
What's your favorite thing about working in food media?
Since I have my background in fashion and not food, I think I have less of a set idea, or a lack of reference, in how to create an expected, perfect food magazine, and therefore feel I can go further with ideas and explore new territory I might not do in fashion. It’s liberating! I also love that I get to explore kitchens, chefs, restaurants that are giving it their all in their passionate path of creating dining experiences for us. We have so many great restaurants in New York City; all just as excited about their food and their way as the next one down the street. I love it!
What is your ideal dinner party?
Good friends, good laughs, good wine. The food can be simple. I personally love food that has been simmered in a pot—a meal that has been having a great time on the stove for hours.
What is the food that makes you feel most glamorous?
Crab from the west coast of Norway. It’s rare. Prosciutto almost melting in your mouth, great wine at Via Carota in NYC, and any plate of food at Estella in NYC. Oysters.
Brutal has its roots in visual culture and fashion. What inspires you about the convergence of fashion and food?
I think food and fashion are very similar. A designer and a chef, for instance, work very similar in how to think in what they want to put forward. They have a belief they wish to share with their customer or guest. They are passionate and personal about their approach; nothing is made out of coincidence; and they always strive to improve, perfect, elevate, and innovate their craft. Everything is made for the senses. It’s then very interesting to play with the two different forms of expression and see how they can mend together quite easily.
Brutal is printed on Favini's corn paper. Can you talk about why you chose to do that?
We were so very fortunate to get in touch with Favini after our art director, Lucia Del Zotto, reached out to them asking if they were interested in working with us. I think being a food magazine and then printing on crushed corn is a pretty amazing thing. Apart from writing about food on food, the quality and texture is really something I find elevates the magazine. We have a more raw expression, and printing on corn creates more depth in the images that I really appreciate. Now we just have to figure out how to make the ink edible too!
What do you have coming up in the future?
I am excited about the future! We are growing fast and wide, and there are many dreams we would like to set out to life—one thing at a time. We are planning to do another dinner party—details coming soon... And then it’s the next issue!
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