Delicious Magazine, Karen Barnes, Action Against Hunger

The Delicious Way

Karen Barnes, editor of delicious. magazine, has been a longstanding supporter of Action Against Hunger. Here she talks about her passion for the magazine and her support for our work...

By Karen Barnes

Sep 1 2016

"I see the magazine as a powerful tool"

Editing delicious. magazine is something I consider to be a privilege. I see the magazine as serving a host of purposes: it entertains, it inspires people to cook, it provokes thought, investigates controversial issues and prompts a reaction, it teaches readers skills and it also tells the many and varied stories behind food – stories of dedication, hardship, passion and skill.

All of this is vitally important. Yes, food is a daily necessity, with the power to nourish, provide energy and improve health. But beyond that it has the power to unite communities, to bond families, to make people feel welcome in your home. If I had to sum up the essence of the magazine, I'd say it's about heart and soul. That might sound trite and a bit fluffy, but the last thing I would ever want the magazine to be is the handbook of some kind of exclusive club. Foodie elitism is the opposite of empowering – that is, if you're one of the many thousands of people who've never been taught how to cook or how special it can be to sit around the table in the kitchen chatting over a home-cooked meal.

I see the magazine as a powerful tool – powerful in terms of informing people, drawing people together and, yes, encouraging people to cook and share the food they've created.

Beauty and style are important, too, so the magazine is a visual feast. But it's a visual feast with substance… The team and I are committed to testing every recipe, gadget, piece of beautiful tableware and food product that appears in the pages of the magazine (and 100s more that don't pass muster). If we wouldn't spend money on something ourselves, it won't get anywhere near the pages of delicious. You wouldn't believe how many teapots look pretty but don't pour!

Throw out the rulebook

Creating each issue of the magazine is very much a team effort. It starts with a meeting where we all sit around the table and discuss ideas. We have what we call the 'mood' for the month concerned – a list of what's in season, what's happening around that time, new films and books that are coming out. That might sound unnecessary, but when you're planning a Christmas issue on the hottest day of summer, you need a prompt to get your head into the right place, otherwise we might end up suggesting turkey salad for Christmas lunch. We've been known to light candles and play Christmas carols in August…

My policy in planning meetings is strict: there's no such thing as a bad idea. In my experience, the craziest thought can, once everyone starts brainstorming it, morph into the best feature idea. It's forbidden for someone to poo-poo someone else's idea (and let's face it, it's not easy when you're new on a team or the most junior member to put forward an idea to a sea of faces, however friendly those faces are).

I do look at other magazines, of course I do, but I try not to be influenced by them too much. So many publications pore over other magazines and reproduce what they do in a different form. My approach is to avoid copying at all costs, to throw out the rulebook and to come up with new, different ideas. If I see someone else mirroring something we're doing, I immediately change what delicious. does and try to make it better. But it's a challenge, and there's always room for improvement!

The magazine has been supporting the vital work of Action Against Hunger for seven years now, and that's something to which the team and I are committed because, while we in the UK have so much privilege in regard to food, there are millions of people around the world who struggle to feed their children – even struggle to find clean water. If we can play even a small part in raising funds to improve matters, that is a good thing.

Action Against Hunger in delicious.magazine

Action Against Hunger chef supporter Atul Kochhar grew up in India, and wrote about the links between his cuisine, his roots and our work in a great feature in delicious.magazine last year. 

 

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