Enrico Policardo for Essen A taste magazine©
Cover and magazine pic Fire&Knife©
We are at Kaffeine in Soho. Why did you choose this place?
They make the best coffee in London, no doubt. The owner is Australian, but many menbers of the staff are New Zealanders. They are all very passionate about coffee, and they also organize bartender courses. I’ve followed one with the manager and was very interesting. My coffee now is much better then before! (laughs).
How did you start Fire & Knives ?
One day I’ve invited at lunch Katie Almodia, a friend of mine who work in magazine called Anorak and she was before into zine world. During the meal I’ve asked her “How could I make a magazine?” and she replied “Oh, it is very difficult, it takes a lot of money, it will cost a few thousand of pounds”.
I worked in advertising for almost 15 years, I was involved in brand and corporate identity. For me those were not … a lot of money. I used to manage very different amount of budget (He laughs).
I contacted a designer and I had prepared some fake page with a fake index, fake content, etc. .. I put it on the internet and made sure that people interested could subscribe.
This has worked particularly well, so when were time to go printing the issue has been already paid.
Why did you choose print, instead of the Web?
I really like the web-magazine, I think there are a great ones, but none generates any profit. With a physical object is more likely to take place an exchange of money and to get paid. It is a primitive thing. However, we still do not have the money to pay the writer.
Speaking of printed magazine, I think Mr.Lowe , your art director Super Mondane, has done an excellent job!
I think so! Rob is, frankly, a genius.Katie told me that Rob was working with her to Anorak and she told me that he could help me with Fire & Knives. Firstly I thought that his style would not suit for what I had in mind, too cartoonish, too childish. She argued instead that we had many things in common. In fact I had to change my mind.
At first I spent a lot of time to search on Ffffound.com and save everything I liked in a folder: images, lettering, drawings, photographs. Then I sent everything to Rob saying “I want something like that. ” Two weeks later he arrived with the project and was … perfect!
How did you get passionate about food?
I grew up in a small town near the coast, during the school if you wanted to work the only job you could find was in a hotel or a restaurant. It was hard work, but I liked it, I liked being in the kitchen, working in that environment with that kind of tranqility. Then I married an American waitress, and I followed her when she got back the United States. I worked there for almost 5 years around the country in the diner. It was exhausting work, but in a sense I loved it. It was real food for real people. When I returned to England on my first job was in advertising and television. From then on I was always interested in food, but it never was my real work.
Your food approach is very instinctive and passionate, is this an editorial choise or is it spontaneous?
In the past, the writer must have been a connoisseur of food, the one who knows things and that says “I know this thing bbout this splendid wine, now I’m telling it to you you can learn it from me. ” An amateur is someone who loves things. I discover all the things for the reader / viewer. When you taste something and say “wow, that’s fantastic, ” if you sent it as an acquaintance, because those who heard or read says “I want to try it too. ” It is a way to sharing of knowledge at a roots level.
What about your writing style?
As I’ve mentioned those who want to write for us must “write by amateurs, not being connoisseurs. ” I do not want the magazine says, “I know much more than you. ” A book that helped me to give me a clear idea of what I wanted is “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace, that comes from a piece he wrote for Gourmet Magazine in 2004. I think it’s one of the most desirable food items. It is very discursive, inspired by a crawfish festival, held in the northeastern United States, but ends up talking about the American working class, how is formed and then tells the story of the consumption of lobster, the lobster’s sex life, a very important part of the book. And then how to kill a lobster, if it is good or wrong, if the animal suffers, if we have to worry for them, life, death, everything. It’s great! He taught me how to communicate my enthusiasm.
I think the lesson works, a good example is the episode of your web-show “when the pig’s head shave in the kitchen of St. John .
(laughs) Yes, well, that was fantastic! Fergus is a fantastic person. It is so encouraging. It is an absolute food genius. He rediscovered the interest and respect for our culinary traditions (the English ed) almost 20 years before anyone else. Shave the head of a pig to cook is something ancient, something deeper, that deals with our roots as a people. For that weltenitshaung of kitchen he could easily be Italian (laughs).
So how do you consider your work and what is coming next?
It is interesting that you have defined what I do at Guardian , a web-show. Actually I do not know how to call it. I can not define anything about what I do. I do not know what I’m doing. I’m not a journalist, in the sense that I could not write a story about something that I do not care, let alone make up a story from scratch. I’m not even a writer, I’ve never written a book, or a story. I am … an enthusiast. I can be what I want.