McSweeney’s And Celebrity Chef David Chang Cook Up A New Food Mag

Momofuku’s David Chang, a master of porky indulgence and manly refinement, creates a culinary quarterly that matches his sensibility.

Gourmet‘s demise in 2009 left serious foodies with an aching hunger for a literate cooking magazine. Nothing has stepped in to replace it, but Lucky Peach, a new quarterly food journal from McSweeney’s, Dave Eggers’s publishing house, may very well become the Gourmet to a young generation interested as much in molecular gastronomy as a captivating read.


Rather than glossy food porn, you’ll find a charticle on slow-cooked eggs.

Created by the James Beard?winning chef David Chang of New York’s Momofuku empire and the former New York Times writer Momofuku cookbook collaborator Peter Meehan, the magazine hits newsstands today. The inaugural issue’s main theme is ramen, with contributions by a culinary all-star team, including Ruth Reichl, Gourmet‘s former editor-in-chief; WD-50’s Wylie Dusfresne, and the celebrity chef and “No Reservations” host Anthony Bourdain. But this isn’t your typical cooking mag. Sure, there are still recipes, but, rather than glossy food porn, you’ll find, for instance, a charticle on the slow-cooked egg showing its various degrees of runniness.

“There’s less sheen here, for better or worse,” says Walter Green, who designed the mag with Brian McMullen and Chris Ying. “Our design philosophy was summed up best by Brian McMullen. Early in the process, he said something like, ?If I saw this while flipping through a magazine of this kind, I’d stop and get involved in the article.” That became a touchstone for us, I think — the kind of design that would intrigue a very busy stranger, while still being legible.?

The eye-catching cover puts that approach on full display ” a no-nonsense image of a chicken suspended above a pot, with hand-drawn headlines and imagery more typical of an album cover than a slick cooking magazine. As Green tells it, the cover came together just hours before it went to press. ?In what felt like five minutes, Brian McMullen picked a photo he liked, cleaned it up, and cropped it to hold cover lines, Chris Ying wrote and plotted out some text, and I used a sharpie and a paintbrush to write out the text. The only major point of contention was: What color should the liquid that is, uh, coming out of the chicken be” We eventually all came to our senses and settled on a tasteful pinkish.?

Check out a few of the spreads to whet your appetite, and buy the issue or subscribe here.

The next installment will focus on ripeness.

About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.