SPOTLIGHT 

Spotlight – Food Mags

Don’t know your saltimbocca from your bourguignon? And is your Eton Mess just a muddle? Never fear, there is a food magazine on a newsstand near you with all the answers. Alan Geere looks for the recipe for publishing success.

By Alan Geere

OLIVE

What’s it about: ‘Cook | Eat | Explore’ is the tagline on the cover.

Vital statistics: February 2015 issue: 124 pages of 230mm x 275mm (small and squat). Thin gloss paper. £3.90 cover price. Published by Immediate Media (née BBC Magazines), who have an eclectic stable of publications from Mountain Biking to Homes & Antiques via Radio Times and Perfect Wedding.

Cover: Enticing pic of Thai roast duck curry, 14 references to recipes, three place names and a ‘Cheap Eats Special’ button.

Content: Recipes, recipes and more recipes. There are 59 in the helpful seasonal recipe index, which sits neatly upfront on the 10-11 spread with the February Highlights.

An outbreak of listosis with ‘21 ways to spend less on food & drink and still have fun’. Sumptuous, mouth-watering photography throughout.

Digital: Interactive app £2.99. 192,762 likes on Facebook, 60,300 Twitter followers (@olivemagazine). Website (www.olivemagazine.com) relaunched this year with a focus on ‘mobile, tablet, desktop’.

What they say: “Smarter than your average food mag, olive is the stylish, monthly magazine for food lovers with over 50 seasonal recipes each issue. We aim to inspire food lovers to cook new dishes, find great value restaurants and eat exciting foods from around the world,” says blurb on website.

Deputy editor Lulu Grimes (@lulugrimes) on Twitter: “World Nutella Day and Maltesers Teasers: we've all gone crazy for chocolate spread!”

Verdict: Not a celebrity chef in sight, just a handful of enthusiastic experts to show us how it’s done. Unobtrusive, complementary advertising, colourful and well put-together. One for the amateur foodie who has time – and probably money – to construct these dishes at home.

WOMAN&HOME FEELGOODFOOD

What’s it about: "woman&home is everywhere you want to be," from the website.

Vital statistics: Spring 2015 issue: 148 pages of 225mm x 290mm (a wider A4). Glossy paper. £3.99 cover price. Published by Time Inc who go from Amateur Gardening to Yachting World via Golf Monthly and NME.

Cover: Just the one image, a full-width pic of blueberry cheesecake minus a big slice, seven cover lines including four 'top chefs' all set on a cool and seductive blueberry colour background.

Content: '2 delicious ways with beetroot' may be two too many for some readers but there is something for every taste here. w&h tv is more than a useful gimmick, showing off their full range of multimedia options. Can't fault the recipes and styling.

Digital: Doesn't have its own website, but a section at www.womanandhome.com/recipes/feel-good-food

A whopping 750,000 Facebook likes but only 18,000 Twitter followers; probably a fair reflection of the demographic of the readership.

What they say: "woman&home is the largest lifestyle magazine on the UK newsstand. It epitomizes a 'brand new attitude' for 40-plus women. It was the first magazine to echo this new spirit and each month presents a stylish mix of content reflecting the way women live and work today," from Time Inc website.

"It's attitude not age!" - tagline on Twitter page.

Verdict: There are no ROP display ads, just the two inside covers and two pages of shopping directory so there is plenty of space to showcase the lavish photography and simple design. Lots to read, see and do. But as w&h has been doing it for nearly 90 years, they should know what they are doing.

JAMIE

What’s it about: “Cook your way to a healthier 2015” - tagline on cover.

Vital statistics: January 2015 issue (still on sale mid-February): 116 pages of 210mm x 265mm (heading towards square). Matt paper, £3.99 cover price. Published by Jamie Magazine Ltd, with advertising handled by John Brown.

Cover: Rather dark picture of 'Beef bone broth', four cover lines and four little picture x-refs. And a very tasty masthead, complete with cropped dots on the 'i's - some creative genius has earned their money.

Content: Everything you would expect from a Jamie Oliver confection: bold, up-to-the-minute, simple and - whisper it - fun. All the usuals of recipes, wines, kitchen notes along with sections like 'In the raw' and 'How to make'. Celeb Q and A (James Cracknell) brings a smile and '10 we love' is a cute index idea.

Digital: A pointer to jamiemagazine.com is right there on the cover, next to the price and barcode, but intriguingly sends you to www.jamieoliver.com/magazine You'll find recipes galore and an invaluable archive to the recipes from all 50 plus previous issues.

No pull or push through to social media from the website, but they are there: Twitter 27,000 followers (Jamie Oliver himself has 4.2 MILLION) and Facebook likes at 15,000.

Don't confuse it with jamiemagazine.co.uk where no-one is home when you call. Just subscription, back issues etc.

What they say: "Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has appointed bankers to sell a stake in his publishing business, according to reports," from www.telegraph.co.uk, Feb 2015.

"Roast chicken for two: the perfect hassle-free #ValentinesDay meal = more time for snogging," Twitter post by @JamieMagazine

Verdict: Just a handful of full-page ads, and the upmarket matt finish make this magazine feel more like a book. Fine writing and lovely photography. Delicious.

DELICIOUS.

What’s it about: “Food magazine of the year,” says tagline on cover.

Vital statistics: February 2015 issue: 132 pages of 220mm x 280mm (fatter, shorter A4). Gloss paper. £4.10 cover price. Published by Eye to Eye Media which they claim is ‘Britain’s fastest-growing puzzles publisher’.

Cover: Stomach-rumbling lavish picture of pork shoulder with baked apples, seven neat and stylish cover lines plus one of the most, er, delicious, mastheads you’ll see on the newsstand in embossed silver.

Content: Beautiful full-page photographs, including some of the best-looking rhubarb you ever did see. Recipes balanced by longer-form writing like a research scientist writing on ‘What will we be eating in 2084?’

James Martin as guest chef is not a bad starting point and teams of friends cooking up boxes of mystery ingredients bring a touch of TV theatre to the printed page.

Digital: The Eye to Eye website claims: “Online, deliciousmagazine.co.uk launched in 2008 and now attracts over 400,000 unique users and over two million page impressions each month. All receipes (sic) in the searchable database are fully tested and illustrated with gold-standard colour photography.” Facebook likes are an impressive 173,000 and Twitter followers 141,000.

What they say: “We aim to be the magazine that the UK’s growing band of food lovers can’t wait to get their hands on each month, an unashamed celebration of food,” says blurb on website.

Editor Karen Barnes on Twitter (@deliciouseditor) “Late to the party, I've only just discovered the way to stay sane on journeys blighted by London Bridge rebuilding: http://serialpodcast.org

Verdict: Modern feel with accessible design and great use of pictures make this a worthy pretender to the Good Food crown. Does justice to the food and drink featured – and feels like it was fun to put together.

BBC GOOD FOOD

What’s it about: “Moneywise meals for the month” - tagline on cover.

Vital statistics: February 2015 issue: 148 pages of 230 x 300mm (a fat A4). Gloss paper. £3.99 cover price. Published by BBC Worldwide, as part of their march towards world domination.

Cover: Pic of posh toad-in-the-hole, five cover lines and a ticker-tape of recipes running right around the frame of the page. No faces, but a mug-shot of a hazelnut latte cake.

Content: Packed with celeb chefs. Lorraine, Ken, Tom, Rick and Nancy will soon make you feel like this is a foodie party just for you. Neat headings - In Season, Everyday, Weekend, Eat well and Good reads - just about says it all.

Digital: Website (www.bbcgoodfood.com) is everything you would expect from a BBC-backed site, except for the intrusive Betfair ad at the top of the page – “Get £30 in free bets”. Easy to navigate and full of rich content but no click-through to social media. Twitter is there (@bbcgoodfood) with 215,000 followers and Facebook has 290,000 likes, so plenty going on.

What they say: “We’re all about good recipes, and about quality home cooking that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re looking for some healthy inspiration or learning how to cook a decadent dessert, we’ve trustworthy guidance for all your foodie needs,” reads blurb on website.

“Working mainly editorially (for a magazine) the hardest parts are shopping and shooting out of season. I spent this week arranging cakes for a Jubilee street party feature on a freezing, rainy day!” says former deputy food editor Sarah Cook interviewed at www.renbehan.com

Verdict: Everything you would expect from a well-established brand. Confident, competent and feels like a friend in the kitchen and dining room. Nothing particularly edgy, so may have to watch out for getting a little too comfortable.