Glamour: this week will see a sexier OFM, overseen by Nicola Jeal
Food is glamorous and sexy, according to new Observer Food Monthly editor Nicola Jeal and from Sunday the magazine will get more than a taste of both.
"I loved the old OFM, but I wanted to make it more of a must-read – more fun and with more upbeat ‘glamour’. I think food is very glamorous and sexy and I want to up that end of things," said Jeal in advance of her first edition.
She has hired new columnists Mimi Spencer, who worked with her at the Evening Standard, and Channel 4’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, famous for his River Cottage back-to-natural-staples cooking.
Spencer’s beat will definitely be to introduce glamour – her first interview is with a celebrity nutritionist – while Fearnley-Whittingstall will describe how he uses food to seduce his loved ones under the headline "Confessions of a Kitchen Tart".
He will write on the food industry, to which he frequently finds himself in trenchant opposition.
Also in the first edition, 10 top restaurant critics have been persuaded to put down the cutlery long enough to discuss whether they are powerful enough to close restaurants with their reviews, comparing some of their most cutting observations.
December’s issue will be about Christmas, with culinary stars Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater and Gordon Ramsay contributing.
But Jeal also sticks to Observer core values, making sure articles on food issues remain. The edition carries a thorough investigation into what fish people should or should not be eating.
She has created a recipe section, gathering the recipes normally scattered through the magazine into a seven-page pull-out. Observer resident cook Nigel Slater becomes "Nigel Slater expanded", not only to produce his own recipes but to pick his favourite chef of the month or cookbook of the month, with recipes from both.
"I have taken on something very strong," said Jeal, who thinks the magazine and its sibling title Observer Sports Monthly are well designed. She hopes high pagination will continue.
She has enjoyed working to the tight discipline of the magazine’s framework and thinking of ideas to fit into it – very different from the Evening Standard, where her brief was wide when she looked after the whole of the paper’s features.
She has also resumed fashion writing, which she had not done since her years on Elle, in a piece for the previous issue of OFM.
Her first cover will be a picture of TV chef Jamie Oliver. "A few years ago, you would have had a piece of cake on the front, but it is so much easier now – when there are so many celebrities in the food business – to get hold of famous people," said Jeal.
By Jean Morgan