Dazed chewed the fat with food writer Peter Meehan, co-founder of the a new food journal published by Dave Eggers' McSweeney's
Published by literary hero Dave Eggers’ stalwart house of independent thinking McSweeney’s, Lucky Peach is the inspired new journal of food and cooking created by New York’s mastermind Momofuku chef and owner David Chang, acclaimed ex-New York Times food writer Peter Meehan and Zero Point Zero Productions, the Emmy-Award winning producers of Anthony Bourdain show, “No Reservations”.
Taking the medium of food media to another level, Lucky Peach really is a culinary magazine like no other. Passionate insights, travelogues, essays, art, photography and recipes delivered with a creatively fresh, witty and super engaging approach that could only come from the gastronomically twisted minds and travels of Chang and Meehan. In a similar way that their co-authored Momofuku cook book changed the game with its highly personable anecdotes, Lucky Peach, through both its print journal and interactive iPad platforms, re-thinks food, cooking and culture.
Dazed Digital: How did you hook up with McSweeney’s?
Peter Meehan: We met Chris Ying, who’s now the co-publisher at McSweeney’s, when he was working on the San Francisco Panorama, this gigantic one-off newspaper. We did a double page spread recipe of how to make chicken noodle soup that had all these things you could add to it to turn it into a proper bowl of ramen, and we just loved working with him. We spent five days of our book tour in a drunken haze and basically forced Chris to hang out with us the entire time, and since then I think we all wanted to work together again.
DD: Can you tell us more about the art elements?
Peter Meehan: It was really just like, ‘Woah, man, you think we could get Tony Millionaire to draw Harold McGee?’ And then, boom, Mr. Maakies himself is drawing stuff for us. Almost everyone we asked contributed. That was a huge thrill. There was no rhyme or reason to the selection; it was all people that Ying and I know, have worked with or wanted to work with.
DD: Did the Anthony Bourdain and Wylie Dufresne round table discussion go as expected?
Peter Meehan: We had no expectations. No preconceived notion of where it would go. So, yes!
DD: Can you talk about the instant ramen recipes, was this something that you had wanted to experiment with before?
Peter Meehan: Making 15 different styles of ramen would’ve gotten boring. Neither Chang nor I knew about the whole subculture of fucked-up instant ramen recipes that’s out there on the internet until we were already committed to doing these. Some of them are pretty interesting. We found a YouTube video called “Ghetto Tamale” very inspiring.
DD: What were the main differences in creating and curating the journal next to authoring books and columns?
Peter Meehan: I didn’t have to write everything, which was cool. I’ve never turned anything in on time in my entire life and I got a nice view of what that’s like on the other side while putting this together – which is not to say our writers were late, but that we were assigning things with very tight turnarounds, and, for me, it shed some light on what a pain in the ass I am to work with. And there was just a rush of excitement when the writers and artists who contributed submitted their pieces that’s different from the strung-out feeling of relief of turning in something that you’ve written yourself.
DD: Personally, what is your favourite article in the first issue?
Peter Meehan: I love them all like my own. I felt like it was a real coup to get the rights to publish the Jun'ichirō Tanizaki piece that we’ve got in there – my favorite piece of fiction about food. And I think it ties into a bunch of the subthemes of the issue, even though it was written nearly a century ago.