07 January 2009

A Road Map for Epicure

“The cook doesn't want to be locked away in the kitchen anymore. He or she wants to be around the guests, ... That means that kitchen appliances suddenly become like a sofa and table - things that everybody is going to look at. I think it's a real indication of where we are in food culture today."

Ruth Reichl

How would I feel if I had recently been annointed the new Editor of The Melbourne Age's food supplement Epicure? Most probably I would be quaking in my boots.

From past experiences of being meted out daunting challenges, I know that I would rise to the occasion, so why the dramatic knee trembling? Melbourne Foodies are savage critics. By Foodies I mean the phalanx of media consuming Gastronauts who consider themselves well endowed of the metier gourmand.

They dissect; they nit-pick and they enjoy a grumble amongst their community. I expect that there is not a journalist who has been on the staff of the publication who has not been lambasted pompously over a few buckets of semillon sauvignon in the eastern suburbs or muttered at in restaurants. And let's not forget online. After all there's been a hearty flow of criticism between both Australian Bloggers and the traditional food media.

In the column to the right I have a section called "Stickyfinger's dream food magazine contains these stories...". It is a cross section of blogs from my feed reader. The blogs included are diverse and run from the poorly written to the professional. There is humour, audacity and pathos, events, reviews, food themed trends, restaurant news, recipes or tips and foreign tit-bits. But most of all they reflect what's real in our food community from writers young and old, the battlers and the affluent. In short, it's relevant. More relevant than Epicure has been.

I think the reason I stopped buying Epicure was because the reading online was so
much more rich and juicy, so ripe with deliciously outrageous opinion and way less sycophantic than the newspaper. The information available online is often better and generally speaking, the food porn's more tantalising. And the language more colourful. OK, I understand that in print there are advertisers to appease and litigious types to avoid, but the material that surfaced in Epicure was becoming as dry as mouthful of Salada's to me.

So to the new Editor of Epicure, here's my wishlist of new things for your rag in 2009. Please consider:

  • 'Going Dutch' - When restaurants are reviewed, publish at least two opinions - and don't publish the photos of your journos so they have some hope of anonymity and objectivism
  • 'Vin de Siecle' - Give us more stories about wine regions - both old and new world so we can understand what is on offer in the bottle shop
  • 'Provenance' - A regular column that singles out one of the rare breed meats and one heritage fruit and vegetable, available at farmers markets and organic stores (what, wherefore and how to use them)
  • 'Waiter there's a blog in my soup' - Publish a juicy blog post, excerpt or photo that you've found that week, with the consent of the author of course
  • 'Just like Mum makes' - Australia has migrants from more than 50 countries, so a monthly piece on an homecooked meal from one of these cultures would be relevant - and please, not some aproximated version by a staffer. Recipes that work in a home kitchen with the same techniques used by Mama
  • Gadgets - road test new devices on the market from silicon cookware to Thermomixers
  • Kids - a humourous column on eating with them, hints on how to get them to eat new things and a recipe
  • Sustainable food - farming, eating, family budgeting and keeping a green kitchen
  • Kitchen porn - show me some drool worthy kitchens and how they're laid out. Even show me Chef's home kitchens
  • Letters - let's read about the Melbourne Food Nazi's grievances and delights

...I could go on, but one last suggestion, 'Morning Glory' - A weekly column on breakfast venues - and I'll be more than happy to write it for you - LOL!

What do you think? What would you like to see in the new Epicure?
Disscuss it here...


Cindy said...

You've some great ideas there, Sticky - I'd be more likely to read Epicure regularly if even just a couple of them were taken up. :-)

Getting away from content, I think Epicure's online presence could do with some minor improvements - I've found it very difficult to track down older articles that I wanted to refer back to.

Y said...

Some brilliant ideas there. I'd like to see some of those things too.

thanh7580 said...

Some really good ideas there Sticky.

Cindy, regarding the Epicure articles, it's amazing they don't have an archive section with the articles sorted by date. I've started my own "archive" of sorts by cutting and pasting all their links each time. Because I've had many occasions when I've read something and then want to find it again only to have massive problems. Sometimes I can remember enough key words to find it using Google, but most of the time, I can't.

neil said...

I like your ideas, but it might be prudent not to hold your breath, change happens only slowly there.

Ali-K said...

Great ideas. I still enjoy reading epicure for all it's faults, but a little more from the 'real' community would be fun.