To learn more about the ladies behind Gather, we talked with founders Michele Outland and Fiorella Valdesolo about avocado haikus, mood boards, and what they're eating, drinking, and listening to this summer (and listen to the exclusive playlist they created for us here!)
The theme of your latest issue is the desert-inspired "Caravan" — can you tell us more specifically about what was influencing you while putting it together?
F: We had both taken recent trips to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree and have a deep love for the desert environment. Also Michele grew up in the West and Southwest so she spent a lot of time in classic desert environments like New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Arizona. The desert feels like the ultimate retreat and its beauty is just breathtaking. Now that we've produced the Caravan issue and incorporated inspiration from a number of other desert destinations, we have a lot of future dream trips in mind; right now, Moab, White Sands, Marfa, and the Sahara are topping our personal wanderlust lists.
What are you each eating and drinking this summer?
F: My boyfriend and I have the good fortune of having an outdoor space so we garden and I'm eating a lot of bitter, leafy greens and heirloom tomatoes that we've produced from there. And I always love classic summer pleasures like hot dogs (preferably with mustard and McClure's relish), watermelon (naked), and ice cream (the new Ample Hills creamery just opened around the corner from my apartment). And my drink of choice this summer thus far has been the new Del's Naragansett Beer shandys or my usual tequila or mezcal on the rocks with a lime.
M: Cherries in all forms, corn in all forms, the grilled pizza with fennel, feta, and coppa from the current Caravan issue is in heavy rotation, palomas, and been enjoying all the light and summery dishes at NYC restaurant Navy.
Can you share a bit about the process behind starting your own journal? What have been some challenges? What has been easier than you expected it to be?
The idea for a print project had been percolating since both of us left Nylon a few years back to go freelance. We had considered a more style and culture-focused magazine but kept finding ourselves being drawn to food; frankly, it was what we talked about more than anything else. Honestly the biggest challenge is taking the leap from talking about an idea to actually following through and making it a reality. That's huge; if you're able to do that, it's half the battle. What's been easier than expected has been coming up with ideas for the issues. We are usually so jazzed about the topic that our cups runneth over with ideas.
Can you walk me through the process of the creation of an issue?
Besides us, we also have a pair of incredible contributing recipe editors (Maggie Ruggiero and Molly Shuster) and a prop stylist (Theo Vamvounakis) who we work with regularly.
The first thing we do when approaching a new issue is sit down together (always with wine and food, naturally) and start brainstorming words or themes (each issue has a specific word or theme that drives the content) that pique our interest. Once we settle on a word, we start coming up with massive lists of food ideas inspired by it. Then, after much back and forth, it eventually gets whittled down and then Maggie and Molly start working on recipe development.
In the meantime we start thinking about building the creative content of the issue: Fiorella thinks about the words, reaching out to her stable of regular writers, and Michele envisions which photographers she is going to call on to bring each recipe chapter to life. Then we get into photo shoots and production mode which is always incredibly hectic but also incredibly fun and gratifying.
Gather pulls influence from a lot of places outside of just the food world. Can you share some of the specific things on your inspiration boards right now?
We are constantly looking to music and movies and art for inspiration. Just so you get an idea of the wide cross-section of places we pluck from we attached the mood board that we showed at a recent Apartment Therapy talk here:
What are some of your favorite recipes from any issue of Gather?
It's hard to pick favorites—really, we love them all—but some of the recipes we continue to make over and over again in our own kitchens are: gazpacho water, and steak, caponata and burrata from Float; gravlax, mushrooms on toast, minestrone, and fallen Aperol chocolate cake from Traces; fried chicken, eton mess, slashed black and blueberry pie from Rough Cut, shakshuka, chocolate espresso cardamom mousse, and drunken upside-down cake from Cocoon; cactus and purple potato frittata, green gazpacho, and ombre crepe cake from Caravan.
Can you share a bit about the Space Ninety 8 pop-up?
In every issue of Gather we have a small Marketplace featuring products that tie into the issue's theme that we sell online. Space Ninety 8 offered us the opportunity to bring our Marketplace concept to life and blow it up by adding even more stuff to it! We approached designers and brands that we were fans of and that fit with the Caravan issue's desert vibes. There are two products we custom-created for this issue, a denim tote bag with a design by tattoo artist Minka Sicklinger and an original desert-inspired dream catcher by Spoke Woven.
And here is the complete list of participating brands and designers: Colin Adrian, Dove Drury-Hornbuckle, Amelie Mancini, Upstate, Horses, JM Dry Goods, Ermie, Loup Charmant, Adina Mills, Unearthen, Nova, Earth tu Face, Lulu Organics, R+Co, Wild Unknown, Raven Crest Botanicals.
Fiorella, you create a special haiku to go with each issue. Will you write one for us, please?
Here's a haiku about what is, in my estimation, one of nature's most perfect creations.
An Avocado Haiku
Croc skin, flesh of jade
Like butter, in fruit's clothing
Click here to see images from Gather Journal's Space Ninety 8 opening party.