Sorry to have to say this but we’re no longer going to publish SPICE. The winter edition will be the last.
SPICE started back in Summer 05/06 as a food magazine with a cover that wasn’t a plate of food, wasn’t a couple of models, and wasn’t anyone you’d see on telly. It was Gotthard Bauer, Margaret River baker of Yallingup Woodfired Bread, a man who combined making bread of exceptional quality and craft with deep tradition and philosophy. We’ve finished with Jake Drachenberg, coincidentally, a Margaret River chef who grew up in Walpole and was chosen for his beautiful food and his use of local produce. Between these two were 21 other issues that exclusively covered Western Australian food in all its glory; whether it be octopus fishermen, someone who crafted tables, an Italian family making sausages, or many of our most talented chefs sharing their work.
We eschewed advertorial (it was always a bit surprising when you had to explain that we were doing the story for free), avoided rehashing press releases, and tried to keep with our own agenda of what we thought was important and needed to be told. As this was our first and only magazine, the learning curve was always there and while, not always erring on the side of perfect, we were at least interesting. And it was always my own personal opinion that our level of resources was more appropriate for something we stapled together on the copiers at Office Works, rather than a fully paid up hefty 90 page or so quarterly.
Much of the credit goes to our team of writers, photographers, proofreaders, office staff, who knew what we were on about and who we liked as much for themselves as for their work. Some were established and we were deeply proud of their involvement; others were unknown and we enjoyed watching them develop in the mag. Advertising paid the bills and we are inordinately grateful for all those who advertised with us how well they fitted in with the magazine. Some were large businesses who could have gone somewhere else, others were small businesses who stretched their own budget. Each in their own way did their part so if you are flicking through a copy, be sure to recognise their support – they’re good people.
The decision to stop publishing was voluntary but not on a whim. Like any good story, one aspect of a subject’s character always ends up biting the subject in the arse so a magazine that looked at sustainability, became unsustainable. While gaviscon consumption was significantly down from earlier issues and complete crises of confidence reduced to one episode per magazine cycle, the work involved never really seemed to drop. I guess if you cover an industry where 12-14 hour days can be the norm, you never feel you’re doing it especially tough. A lighter, leaner, and possibly more profitable lifestyle-y mag may have worked but it wouldn’t have had our heart in it. On the flip side, we didn’t want to drive the magazine in to the dirt, engine ablaze. It was a good time to step off and the only real regret is that we couldn’t keep doing what we were doing.
Western Australia is a much better place for food than when we started. It’s a wee bit tempting to mug for a bit of credit but we’re actually just happy to have been part of it. Two of the most significant developments have been the rise of small bars and farmers markets. Their overall economic value grossly understates their value to the people involved and the society at large. They represent a small triumph of the small over the large, and creativity and innovation over the status quo and its attendant bureaucracy. And they’re only part of it – craft breweries, providores and the smaller supers, new wine regions and varieties, farmer direct meat, non-chain cafes and non-smug restaurants, locally roasted coffee, cheesemakers … it’s a great time to engage with the skilled and dedicated. It’s not all sunshine and lollypops but let’s keep it moving forward.
And, look, the people are out there. You don’t need us to tell you about them and take a picture. The greatest pleasure of SPICE was the opportunity to talk to people who were genuinely dedicated to what they did and were, with a bit of encouragement, happy to talk about it. Get out there, be nice, and ask them and then tell your friends.
If you’re a subscriber you should have been contacted by now on refunds, back issues are available for sale, and if you’ve never read us before you can go out and buy a copy of Winter now, I assure you it’s very good. If you nicked a copy from a cafe, please take it back and apologise. This website will still be around but I’m predicting bit of a lazy spell.
So on behalf of my enormously hard working and talented colleagues Jeff Atkinson and Kate Lindsay, and myself thank you for your support and sorry we can’t be in your letterbox or in your newsagents come September. I still keep quite a few of my old fave magazines from over the years and it’d be nice to think there will a copy or two of SPICE sitting around somewhere.