A chat with Fermin Albert, publisher of the best iPad based food magazine around, Sabor
Posted on March 25, 2013 by Aun
As an ex-magazine editor, I’m always thrilled to run across a new, beautifully designed, tightly curated, sharply edited, and well-written editorial product. It doesn’t really matter to me if that product is in print or in a digital format. What matters to me these days is quality. If you haven’t yet discovered Sabor, a dutch food magazine that this year has made the transition from print to iPad, you simply must download it as soon as possible.
It is, quite simply, the best iPad food magazine I’ve seen to date and potentially even one of the best new magazines I’ve come across in any medium in the last couple of years.
Sabor is smart. It’s sexy. And it’s affordable. Anyone who really loves food, loves reading about food or staring at pictures of food porn should appreciate the hard work that has gone into making this magazine. Having been in the business before, I’d like to very publicly tip my hat to publisher Fermin Albert and his team. Well done guys! Very well done.
Having devoured Sabor’s first iPad issue, I decided I wanted to know a bit more about the man behind the magazine. So I emailed Fermin and asked if he’d be cool with a quick question and answer session. Which is below.
Aun: How did you first get into publishing? And why a food magazine?
Fermin: Publishing a magazine was a childhood dream. When a friend and silent business partner offered to help me setup a publication, I was ecstatic! There was one caveat though; I could publish any kind of magazine as long as it was a culinary magazine. So, I seized the opportunity and created Sabor—which initially was supposed to be a 48 pages fanzine-ish food magazine, and quickly evolved into a more cultivated and eccentric publication.
Aun: What’s your overall mission with Sabor? Beyond just publishing a magazine, what are you trying to accomplish?
Fermin: To bring knowledge, entertainment and inspiration to the world.
Aun: Can I assume that you’re quite the foodie; after all, you are publishing a food mag. What was your own food epiphany, that moment when you realized you had a passion for food greater than most people’s?
Fermin: On the contrary, I don’t consider myself a foodie, nor do I pretend to be one, and that just might be my strength—not wearing the pedantic “foodie” lenses, allows me to take an unbiased/curious look at everything related to food.
Aun: What were the biggest challenges in putting Sabor together when you first started out a few years ago?
Fermin: The biggest challenge was to self-finance, and bootstrapping each issue.
Aun: What was the biggest challenge in making the transition to an iPad magazine, as opposed to print? And why did you make that decision?
Fermin: The most difficult part was, having to disappoint our Dutch readership, by ceasing the print publication. The transition from print to digital was quite easy—however it was a challenge to let go of print, but the printing costs were simply too high and the distribution too wasteful and costly for a small scale “bootstrapped” publication.
Aun: I am sure that any food and wine blogger, journalist and photographer that sees Sabor is going to want to start working for you. How do you decide who to work with? When you did this most recent issue, was story selection based on pitches or do you commission based on editorial ideas you came up with?
Fermin: Ahahaha, thanks! Stories commissioned are largely based on editorial ideas. Some are suggested “pitched” by a few trusted contributors. Sometimes a surprising story suggestion can prompt me to change the entire direction of an issue. I never fail to identify and take opportunity of a great idea, which might be better than my original concept.
Aun: So, what should someone who wants to contribute to you do in order to get your attention?
Fermin: Tough question! I tend to veer toward people who are talented and humble at the same time. Contributors who have these traits, tend to be very flexible, motivated, they understand the challenges to setup a publication and they are very committed to the success of the project.
Aun: What part of putting Sabor together do you enjoy the most?
Fermin: Dreaming-up each issue… Researching topics for weeks, and in a few cases even months—acquiring knowledge on the fly, is very gratifying. Although, I enjoy the whole production process—from acting as editor/publisher, art director/designer/image editor to stylist/assistant and errand-runner, ahahaha…
Aun: What was one of the most memorable meals of your lives, a meal that you don’t think could ever be replicated again?
Fermin: Sunday’s dinners at my grandma…She would prepare typical Dominican fare such as; pescado con coco, roasted suckling, together with arroz moro and tostones, and fresh vegetables, along with agua de melon (fresh melon juice) and dulce de cajuil (cashew fruit). And her arroz con gandules or gandules guisado were a hit!
Aun: Let’s say you could organize your dream dinner party. Pick a restaurant anywhere in the world and 5 guests. Which restaurant would you pick and who would be eating with you? And why this restaurant and those people?
Fermin: [In my wildest dreams] Warren Buffet, S.I. Newhouse and the late Diana Vreeland at Le Bernardin in NYC—I am quite fond of seafood and fine French cuisine—furthermore, the unfussy/modern setting is befitting for an evening of enjoyment and informal conversations. My three guests are all quite eccentric individuals, with different personalities and traits that I like. Warren is incredibly down-to-earth and I can readily identify with his ideas. S.I. demure attitude inspires me. Diana on the other hand is witty, flamboyant and her seemingly larger than life personality fascinates me.
Aun: What’s the one foodie destination you’ve yet to visit and are dying to visit? Any specific chefs, restaurants or other things there already on your list to try?
Fermin: Peru! And it has been on my to go list since 1999. No particular chefs or restaurants. Just want to submerge myself in the Peruvian the culture.
Aun: Now that you’re running what may be the most beautiful food magazine available for the iPad, you’re going to be immediately thrust into the limelight as a food expert. So, I’d like you to make a few predictions if that’s okay.
Fermin: Ahahaha… good one! I’ll have to pass on the predictions, as I don’t follow trends; trends are oftentimes ephemeral, especially in these days and age of social media—they pop-up and wither like mushrooms in the woods. That said, I will make one prediction. South America should be the next region to watch—exciting culinary explorations and exotic ingredients are coming-of-age.
Aun: Okay. Then one more question. If you change one thing about the way the majority of people in the world eat, what would that be?
Fermin: We should eat — consume — less, and eat more consciously. Furthermore, I would like to see a more equal distribution of food across the world—the balance is off, and it is disturbing!
Sabor is available via the iTunes store. Download it today!