Designed to be a voice for chefs and restaurateurs, Restaurant magazine was the first publication to reflect the passion within the industry, which it has done for nearly 15 years.
Here, Restaurant magazine editor Stefan Chomka shares why it’s the leading monthly magazine for the restaurant industry and also the most interesting and insightful to read – but then of course he would say that!
When did you start at Restaurant magazine?
I’ve been on the editorial team for eight years, having started on the magazine as features editor. I have been editor for the past two years.
As editor, what keeps you busy each a month?
My job is to put together the magazine each month, which involves deciding with my team what should go into each issue and the writing, commissioning and editing of features and stories for it. The wider part of my job involves me organising and hosting events, both small scale, such as roundtable discussions, and large, including the magazine’s annual European study tours and our National Restaurant Awards, so it’s a very varied role that keeps me busy.
Walk me through your typical work day.
If I’m in the office it will usually involve planning the month’s issue and also future issues, taking into account what’s happening in the industry and what we should be covering as well as going through the pages for the current issue to make them ready for print. If I’m out of the office it’s typically in central London, where I try and conduct a number of meetings or interviews throughout the day – those days also usually involve going out for lunch or dinner – or both.
Going out for lunch or dinner – or both – that’s a great way to stay connected to restaurateurs. Any other ways you stay engaged?
We constantly try and engage with chefs and restaurateurs through social media and face to face meetings but also through the various events that we organise on a monthly basis.
How do you share the best insight and business advice to restaurateurs?
Restaurant magazine has a wide readership, from top chefs in independent restaurants to operators of multi-site brands and investors, so we work very hard to ensure that each issue contains content that appeals to all our readers, whether that be in-depth profiles of an up-and-coming chef, large-scale business and industry insights, commentary on the burning issues, and news on the latest products and trends.
Aspiring restaurateurs are reading Restaurant. What’s your best advice for them?
Never having owned a restaurant, I wouldn’t consider myself to be in a position to offer any advice. What I would say, however, having written about the industry for almost a decade, is that it’s a lot harder and requires much more dedication than it might first look.
What do you want readers to take away from the magazine?
I’d like people to be informed and inspired by reading the magazine and for them to take away something, however small, from every issue. Our regular events are also a good way to interact with restaurants, so their contribution to discussions and events is very welcome.
Any horrible things happen to you as the editor of Restaurant?
Save the odd spelling mistake I’ve so far managed to safely navigate the choppy waters of magazine editing, which means the rocks are still out there…
The industry is ever-changing. What’s been happening that interests you the most?
Just watching the industry evolve over the past decade has been very interesting – from the heyday of molecular gastronomy and the growth of no reservation restaurants to the emergence of Scandinavian cooking and design over here and the next wave of US food – it’s fascinating how the industry changes and then often reverts back to a previous state.
Any particular food trend you are especially excited about?
I’m looking forward to the explosion of more authentic Mexican food, in particular high-quality tacos, in this country. It’s coming – and not before time.
Where do you find inspiration?
It sounds glib, but everywhere. Whether in Soho, Manchester, New York, Japan or in a local restaurant or pub, there’s always something happening or an approach being taken in the industry that gives the magazine inspiration and ideas. I am driven by creating a magazine that looks at things differently and is a breath of fresh air for our readers.
What’s next for the magazine?
Now that would be telling…
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Photos courtesy of Stefan Chomka