A Conversation With Chuck: Acquired Taste Magazine

Chuck Ortiz is changing the way we look at food. His passion for telling the stories of the people behind great food, from farmer to chef to table is evident through his newest extension of Acquired Taste Magazine. This month Chuck celebrates his first foray into print, and I was excited to catch up with him in the midst of all the excitement. Even though Chuck takes the reigns in directing Acquired Taste Magazine, he works closely with his talented team to bring their best work to life.

"People make food culture what it is."

Interview by Darian Hocking

Acquired Taste Magazine

Acquired Taste began initially as an online magazine?

Yes, for the past two years we have been strictly online. When we started out I just wanted us to focus on bringing good food content to the web; then I realized that the content we were doing deserved to be printed. Although a major focus will be on print, we still plan to deliver relevant and substantial content exclusively for the website.

What has the response been like from your readers so far?

The response has been amazing. We have been so blessed to not only get great feedback from foodies, but from people/professionals from various other walks of life. Photographers, designers, architechs, artists have all shown us love which goes to show how far food extends. Im also blown away by the readership we have been garnering from around the world.

That is incredible and must be inspiring to get such positive feedback from fellow creative folks.

Yes its very inspiring!

When you were deciding to move into print, what were some of the elements you wanted to bring with you from the website?

When we decided to move into print, first and foremost we wanted to focus on great visual experiences. Whether it be through photography or illustration, that element is what we are known for so it only made sense to continue that with print.

We also wanted to continue to focus on food culture from the perspective that has been lacking; the perspective that the people and stories are what is important, not so much the recipes. We also wanted to continue our agenda of crossing that intersection where food meets design, fashion, art etc.

Which brings me to my next question. Your Original Series films. It's such a great concept, will that be making an appearance in the inagural issue in some form?

Thank you. I've always longed to see a show that gave a realistic inside look into the lives of people in our culture. For the first issue, we actually chose not to include it, simply because I want us to put a similar spin on it while still making the show relevant. We will definitely have it there for an upcoming issue. We also hope to introduce other original films in the future, but for now they are just in the idea stage.

Part of the reason I was so intrigued by Acquired Taste Magazine, was because of the fact that you talk about food in a way that does tells a story, like you said, not just through the recipes. Where did your inspiration begin with this focus?

Well my inspiration stems from many things. First off, anytime you walk into a book store or cook book shop, or you browse through a magazine section, 98% of the time you will never see a persons face. Why is that? People make food culture what it is. FARMERS plant the crops. CHEFS cook the food and that is the reason why I chose to put REAL people on our covers. 99.9% of the covers will be people.

That is the truth.

I also get lots of insiration from other professions like photography, art, design and fashion, so I also choose to explore food from those perspectives. Its not that we won't have recipes, because we will, we just won't have 90% of our content recipes based.

As far as the physical magazine is concerned, how hard was it to make decisions behind the scenes, like which weight of paper you should use, etc., that help bring a publication to life?

Given that I wasn't from a print publication background it was a big learning curve. I wouldn't say that the decisions were tough, moreso exciting. When it came time to choose the cover stock and text stock I felt like I was shopping for some new gear, excited for everyone to see the final result. Aside from the excitement of the process, it is tricky because I had to balance aesthetics and budget.

I have been reading various conventional and independent magazines for quite some time so I generally had an idea of what I wanted it to look and feel like, of course.

So its safe to say you're completely pleased with the end result?

Oh definitely. I'm very pleased, considering the learning curve. But as with everything we do, we will progress with every single step. So I intend to have Issue Two be twice as good.

Are you planning on annual or bi-annual issues?

We are planning to release quarterly.

So right now, your magazine will be avaialble in your online boutique, as well as a few other select retailers (and at Gentlemen's Reserve June 25-26, of course). What are some of your immediate goals with Acquired Taste Magazine in the printed form?

Yes, it will be available online as well as select stockist across Canada. In terms of immediate goals, I intend to have it distributed across North America and Internationally.

Overall, I just want it to grow organically, the way it always has. And eventually be an authority in the world of print.

I have no doubt about that. Your authenticity shines through.

Thank you. I am humbled by that.

I feel like what you are putting out is extremely exciting for those of us who appreciate a quality publication - in this case about food. We are looking forward to carrying Acquired Taste in our shop.

I'm looking forward to being available to the FREE / MAN audience.

How many talented folks are on the team at Acquired Taste HQ's?

Well, I am blessed to be able to work with a great group of talented individuals and creatives. They all contribute in different ways and are all vital to the process. I would like to thank Abby, Arianne, Eric, Antonio, Natalie, Sarah, Annie and Michael. Coudn't be more satisfied with this group.