Editor’s note: Food Book Fair is one of our favorite annual events. It’s our chance to convene with readers and our food publication peers while sharing ideas, inspiration and some one-of-a-kind meals. This year’s lineup looks as awesome as ever with some highlights including a panel discussion on labor and a free kid-focused Food Book Fair Jr. We’ll be sharing our magazines at Sunday’s signature Foodieodicals event, which gathers the cream of the indie food publishing crop for a walk-around book fair, drinks and snacks. See you there.
Anna Dunn, editor-in-chief of Diner Journal, believes everyone can write. She told me this last week while we caught up about their latest issue “Dear Island,” whose release they’re feting this week with a butchering demo, party and appearance at this weekend’s much anticipated Food Book Fair (FBF).
Diner Journal and Food Book Fair have always gone together in my mind, and (probably because I have four of their limited edition posters lying in wait in my apartment). The annual event’s hosted by the Wythe Hotel, where Andrew Tarlow—Diner Journal‘s publisher and Brooklyn restaurateur extraordinaire—owns and runs Reynard. Dunn, like many of Tarlow’s veterans, has worked at nearly all of his locations including Diner, Roman’s and Achilles Heel. As she says, “I tend to get bored around the same time Andrew opens a new restaurant that I can work in.”
Dunn’s start with Tarlow follows a path that might seem familiar to many aspiring artists. She was writing poetry, working at a bookstore and catching hours as a coat check when she joined the Marlow & Sons team. At the time, Diner veteran chef and current Saltie chef/ownder Caroline Fidanza, recommended Dunn for the upcoming journal, originally planned to be Tarlow’s response to customer’s requests for recipes and sourcing secrets.
Since its inception nearly a decade ago, Diner Journal has taken many forms as Dunn and her crew have experimented with different storytelling techniques. Originally, it was a mini cookbook for Diner and included Fidanza’s recipes. “It was very much about our process of learning things as we did them. But, we soon realized we had an opportunity to create something different outside of our restaurants. Over time, the magazine became our exploration of art and community in Williamsburg and beyond,” says Dunn.
Diner Journal has become a dynamic and important way to tell their businesses’ stories. Their latest issue “is a new stage for us now,” says Dunn. “Dear Island” is the sole work of writer Millicent Souris and recounts their changes as a single publication, as well as the evolution of a broader “food world.” “We’re no longer looking at different pitches to find a way to link them together under a theme. Instead, we’re developing a strong story arc and the best way to tell it,” says Dunn.
Dunn and Tarlow are taking their food writing style beyond the latest iteration of Diner Journal. This fall they’ll launch the restaurant group’s cookbook debut Dinner at the Long Table. The book stems from Dunn’s belief that everyone’s a storyteller, whether it’s through words, food or other media. They describe it as much more than a cookbook in that it’s more about the act of making food together. The stories—told by Reynard chef Sean Rembold; Dave Gould of Roman’s; Scarlett Linderman, co-author and Diner Journal recipe editor; and Ken Wiss, chef of Diner—span several months and end with a New Year’s Eve party.
Although we’ll have to wait until September to purchase the book, they’ll discuss their cookbook writing process at FBF. Dunn’s also leading a “Foodieodicals Today” panel at FBF, which will take a look at “OG” indie food magazines still in the game. Get your tickets for these and other events on the Food Book Fair website, and hope to see you there this weekend!