In preparation for tonight’s launch party of the third issue of Jarry, as well as a Thursday event that benefits the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, I sat down with editorial director, co-founder and author Lukas Volger to talk food, queer kitchens and the evolution of an idea to print.
Jarry is a twice-a-year print magazine that serves to explore the intersection of queer culture and food culture, through history, through profiles, though travel, through recipes. When we started this project we didn’t have a fixed idea about what it would mean to be a queer food magazine: we wanted to build a community and see what types of stories came from within it.
Who’s Lukas Volger?
I grew up loving to cook. I’ve had several food jobs, I worked at a bakery growing up and as a line cook throughout college, and I’ve done a little bit of everything in the food industry. After food, I worked in book publishing and then combined both interests in the restaurant industry and then food in terms of food media.
Not Losing Queer Stories
I had to go digging for the queer stories in food history. James Beard, I had known his name for a really long time but I didn’t know that he was gay. Same thing with Craig Claiborne, Richard Olney—it seemed like there were a lot of really prominent food figures whose sexual orientations were just footnotes rather than explicitly part of their legacies, and there are all kinds of reasons for why that might be. I wanted to not lose those stories.
A Magazine is a Community
Jarry is a place where we could do some of that work. I was aware of how many queer people worked in food, a lot of gay guys work in food media, a lot of lesbians work in restaurant kitchens, broad etc. There is already a really strong community but this magazine seemed like such a ripe opportunity for us to build something too.
Three Smart Gay Guys Walk into a Bar
I have two colleagues, Alex Kristofcak and Steve Viksjo. I met Alex a little over two years ago. I mentioned this idea and he immediately wanted to work on it, and Steve came on as our creative director. The first thing we did was start building out social media. The response was big. People were excited about this idea. I hear over and over again, Wow. Why didn’t this already exist? Kind of like the magazine Cherry Bombe. I know Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu very well. They said the same thing: we put it out there and everyone asked, Why didn’t this exist before? These are important conversations.
Issue Three Relationships Fine Tunes
Relationships definitely builds on the first two issues just in the sense that it’s a living, breathing thing and we’ve more finely tuned what the scope is. I think that in this issue we have a better sense of the purpose of the magazine and its voice.
Mag v. Book: Readers Shape Focus
What’s so fun about a magazine versus a book, it that while polished, it’s a living, breathing thing. We’re able to respond differently. We get feedback from our readers, and we’re able to implement their feedback into future issues. Each new issue will always build on the previous one.
Since the beginning, we have always tried to feature diverse voices into this effort. In Relationships, we got this great story by Neal Santos: he’s a photographer and a photojournalist, but he also has this food pop-up in Philadelphia called Pelago. The text and photos are a portrait series of queer urban farmers and the subjects are almost all people of color. I don’t know if that’s what he set out to specifically do, but that’s what the results are and it’s one of my favorite pieces in this issue.
What’s the tee?
The publications in food media that I respect are working really hard to bring as much diversity into every issue as possible.
Write for Jarry
The best stories are the ones in which people have something important that they want to say. Our first issue had a James Beard Award- winning article by John Birdsall. It’s a piece that’s so much bigger than food. I’m interested in people who are doing really interesting things and sharing varied experiences.
From Gay to Queer
We started out feeling that it was better to be niche and building Jarry as a gay food magazine. We just found that the stories are much better when they’re broader: the quality is better, there are more people to work with, so we’re sort of transitioning from Jarry focusing on gay men to focusing on queer people. We did this event at Food Book Fair called Gay Food 101, which was a panel discussion interested in the question, what is gay food? While a good question, the answer wasn’t the most robust. But earlier this year we did a panel event called In the Queer Kitchen, and I don’t know what the exact difference is between gay food and queer kitchen, but the whole thing just really breathed better. I know that there are some people who take issue with the word queer but for us it’s just a more economical way to say that we’re looking for stories from everywhere.
Cocktails at Kings
We have two events coming up. The first is the issue release party at Kings County Distillery and it’s mostly just going to be fun, hanging out, and enjoying delicious cocktails. Kings County just won Distillery of the Year from the American Distilling Institute, it’s just a beautiful space.
Savor the Season: Fashion on the Plate
And on Thursday, November 17, we’re doing Savor the Season, which builds on an event from last year featuring chef Steven Satterfield. It’s a benefit dinner for GMHC, the oldest and arguably most influential of HIV/AIDS nonprofits.
In this issue, we have a story called Lauren and Marc. Lauren Gerrie, who is Marc Jacobs’s personal chef and has been for some time, has interpreted some of his most signature looks as food in a photo story for Relationships. She’s going to do just that this Thursday as a feast for 150 people. It’s going to be really wild and crazy and benefits a great organization.
Looking to Issue Four
We’re early in the process, but the theme is very likely going to be Journeys, Destinations, writ large. We want to get out of the country, go to smaller towns, outside of these bigger food hubs, outside of our comfort zones.