On My Mag Shelf


The first time we met Denise was at one of our pop-ups: she bought a copy of Fool issue 4, then regaled us with the tale of how she’d sent her boyfriend hunting for a copy of issue 3 across 3 continents. How could we not become friends after that?

As the online editor of Singapore Tatler Dining, it’s a given that Denise knows her food. Despite her repeated claims of not having a “massive collection”, the selection of titles she has chosen to hold onto perfectly showcase her twin loves – food and words. Having been part of the features team of magazines like Appetite and Food & Travel before taking on the digital frontier, she has a soft spot for brilliant food writing and, like every good food and magazine snob, doesn’t discriminate – be it Conde Nast-owned titles or cult indie ones, as long as it’s got a distinct point of view (no trendy brunches, please!), you can bet it’ll make her “keep” pile for sure.

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“I’m happy to have discovered Magazine B via Magpie. I like that:
a) it is adless
b) every article in each issue focuses on only one brand. It cuts away the distractions, leaving only the good stuff.
I’m reading the issue on Intelligentsia coffee right now, but am also very excited to get my hands on the latest issue, which is on Repetto.”

Magpie Meets ...


There’s nothing we love more here at Magpie than meeting the people who contribute to the awesomeness of our favourite magazines. That’s why when we were in Hong Kong recently, we knew we had to hit up Nicole Fung, aka That Food Cray !!! – not only is she one of our favourite food bloggers, she also happens to write a column (naturally, called That Food Cray !!!) for Fricote, the pop culture-heavy French/English food magazine.

Read on to find out how her column came about, her HK must-eats, and how we came to conclude that the food spots featured in Fricote are totes legit.

PS. Don’t forget to save that jar of Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter for us, Nicole!

How did you get involved with Fricote?
My really good friend, Wu Yue, is an artist in Paris. He works a lot with Fricote and introduced me to Julien [Pham, EIC of Fricote]. I’ve been contributing since issue 10 – the first column I did was on Wasabi KitKat.

How do you decide what to feature in the column?
It usually doesn’t require too much planning. I feel like with food, you’re always trying something new; you eat three times a day, so it’s just whatever inspires me at the time.

At first, I wrote about snacks cos I had so many at home and needed to do something with them. Julien was like, do whatever you want, I trust you. So I did about three snack reviews, and sent him a box of snacks too.

After that, I wanted to do something different. This was right after my husband and I went to Thailand, so I asked Julien if he’d be cool with me doing a travel guide, and he said yes. [Ed’s note: That Food Cray !!! In Bangkok appears in Fricote issue 14]

We were also in Paris recently, so we met up with Julien and he took us on a full-day food tour all over Paris. He brought us to a bakery called Michalak Masterclass & Takeaway [Ed’s note: Ahem, also in issue 14 of Fricote] – it’s really good; they try to do next-level stuff, not your traditional Parisian baked goods. Pretty much everywhere he took us, I think he’s included it in Fricote at some point.

That’s great – it means the places they feature are legit. How do you know where to eat when you travel?
Instagram helps a lot. For example, I follow this guy called @lennardy from Singapore – he eats well, cooks a lot at home and his pictures are really nice. So before our recent trip there, I asked him for a list of recommendations and he sent me this huge list, from high-end places to hawker centres. I also try to post a shot on Instagram when I’m in a new country, so people will send me recommendations; that helps too.

How was your trip to SG?
I loved it. It was mostly a food trip and I had everything pretty much scheduled for our three or four days there. Anything we needed a reservation for, I made them in advance; everything else, we played by ear. I took over Fricote’s Instagram when we were there too.

What was the best dish you had on the trip?
Jaan’s 55’ Smoked Organic Egg for the win! It was amazing, so good.

Can you tell us your favourite breakfast, lunch and dinner spots in Hong Kong?
Breakfast: Kam Wah Cafe for the pineapple bun. The lady boss there is really intense, she takes her buns seriously.
Lunch: Lan Fong Yuen, a cha chaan teng. The milk tea is really good, and I usually get the instant noodles with chicken steak, green onions and a fried egg on top. It’s greasy, good HK food.
Dinner: I have a few different ones, it depends on the cuisine. I really like Tung Po, a dai pai dong (an open-air food stall) on the top floor of a wet market in North Point. The food is pretty good but it’s the atmosphere that is really fun. The guy who owns it has a crazy personality. When it hits 8 or 9pm, he starts busting out crazy music, moonwalking, and going around tables and making people drink. So go later, when he gets rowdy; and the boss, Robby, has to be there, obviously. That is the coolest HK experience. It’s usually better in groups, so we go there when we have about 8 or 9 people.

The other place is Yardbird: it’s really fun, another place that’s all about the atmosphere. The food is consistently good; it’s one restaurant where you can always have an amazing meal and an amazing experience.

Ok, last question. What would your last meal consist of?
Appetiser: Jaan’s 55’ Smoked Organic Egg. Eggs are one of my favourite things.
Main course: Pho, cos I eat it whenever I go home to Canada. I can’t remember the name of the actual spot in Calgary cos it’s some hole-in-the-wall, but these are just as good – Song Que in London and Pho Huong Lan in Honolulu.
Dessert: Lady M’s Green Tea Mille Crepe Cake with a side of Hokkaido milk soft serve from Via Tokyo (a Japanese dessert café in Hong Kong)!

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Editor's Notes


If you’re ever stuck in a drought of creativity, a flick through Uppercase is all you need to get those juices flowing. Within every issue of this quarterly magazine is a veritable flood of inspiration that covers all areas of design, from craft to typography to stationery. The woman behind this oasis of amazingness is Janine Vangool, who, as you’ll find out from the slideshow above, also manages to pen a series of books (!) and raise a super-adorable son while she’s at it. Colour us curiously impressed, if you will.

What made you want to set up a magazine for the creative and curious?
I’ve always dreamed of being a publisher of books and magazines… even as a child, I would make little books and magazines for fun. As a magazine publisher, editor and designer I can curate the content that interests me and inspires me. The magazine format allows me the structure of a regular publishing schedule, but the flexibility to explore new topics.

You recently launched your 21st issue. Which has been your favourite issue to work on?
This is hard to answer because it is always the most recent issue that is my favourite! Certainly issue #21, with our Surface Pattern Design Guide, is one of the most beautiful, with portfolios from 100 surface pattern designers. Plus, it features one of my personal design heroines, Lotta Jansdotter, whom I got to speak with on the phone, which was a thrill for me. The reaction of our participants and readers of issue #21 has also been outstanding, so this issue seems to be a favourite for many others as well.

What personal craft projects do you get up to in your free time (although we have no idea how you manage to do everything you do!)?
Alas, I don’t have much free time for crafting lately. But I always have crafty projects started and waiting for my return, such as a granny square blanket (4 years in the making and counting!) and a quilt I want to complete for my son’s room. I also firmly believe in purchasing craft supplies and having everything at the ready for when the mood strikes. I do love to do crafts and creative projects with my 4-year-old son, which we do on a daily basis.

What has been your favourite discovery you wouldn?t have come across otherwise if you hadn?t been working on an issue of Uppercase?
I discover things on a daily basis that I wouldn’t have without the framework of UPPERCASE. The magazine has brought me in contact with such talented and generous people. It has really opened my world from where I started with a narrower visual experience as a graphic designer, to a broader approach that includes craft, creative lifestyles, photography and writing.

You’re super active on Instagram (follow Janine at @uppercasemag). What are your 3 favourite Instagram accounts to follow for creative inspiration?
I love Instagram, for the act of taking photos and documenting moments. The community there is so friendly as well. I like seeing Karyn Valino’s (@make_something) photos of her and her customer’s quilt and sewing projects at the Workroom in Toronto; @hellosandwich for Ebony Bisyz’s cute and colourful pictures from Japan; and illustrator Dawn Tan’s (@handmadelove) photos of food, watercolour and fun creative antics from Melbourne.

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On My Mag Shelf

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When we first chanced upon Filmme Fatales online, we knew this zine was something special. Poems dedicated to Lena Dunham? Fake CVs for Sofia Coppola characters? An analysis of every JLo movie ever? Yes, yes and yes. Then we started emailing its founder and editor, Brodie, and realised she is Filmme Fatales brought to life. A staff writer for Rookie, editor and writer at Melbourne writing studio/publisher/shop The Good Copy and contributor to various good titles across the world, Brodie’s clearly passionate about print – and her overflowing magazine shelf is testament to that (and the fact that she has no spare time).

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“There’s a bit of backstory here.

I’m a fan of Dave Eggers and the things he does with McSweeney’s and 826 National. His first book was exactly what its title – A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – not so subtly declared; his independent publishing house a delightful and cheeky departure from what people thought “real” publishers had to be; and his socially conscious 826 a winning and charming project.

So when McSweeney’s announced they were going to publish a food journal, I was intrigued. If they were motivated enough to enter a saturated food periodical market, it had to be something worth looking out for. They hooked up with the acclaimed straight-talking chef David Chang, who became the editor, together with Peter Meehan. Chris Ying came on board later.

(Note: This isn’t a fact-checked article, and details have only been verified by my memory, so the history lesson ends here. Oh, but maybe I’ll tell you about the title first though. It brings me to my next point quite neatly. You have my pre-emptive apologies.)

The journal is named after Chang’s Momofuku (“桃福”, hence “Lucky Peach”) group of restaurants. I’d never had the urge to try the food at acclaimed restaurants, but the association with McSweeney’s got me interested. With most of the Momofuku restaurants being in New York though, it wasn’t likely that I would have satisfied my curiosity.

I did have a somewhat tenuous experience of Momofuku: My girlfriend, while on internship in New York in 2010, bought a box of assorted dessert pie slices from Momofuku Milk Bar. She tasted a couple and told me they were good but really sweet. She didn’t get to try the rest of the flavours because of a hungry houseguest who stood on no ceremonies. If she was disappointed, she didn’t show it. But I was indignant. I mean, come on! Momofuku! McSweeney’s! Those pies should have been devoured by me, and if not, at least by my girlfriend.

Less than a year after that event, the first issue of Lucky Peach was published. It was my chance to personally taste a truly McSweeney’s-Momofuku combination slice. But I held back. What if it was — like those Momofuku Milk Bar pies — good but really sweet to the point of being too sweet? I expected a lot and I was afraid to be let down. Also, the only way I could have gotten an issue of Lucky Peach was by ordering online and that would have come out to be a pretty pricey affair.

Anyway — jump cut to the present — I recently, finally, started reading Lucky Peach. All I’ve got to say is, I have really been depriving myself.

Long story short: Lucky Peach is good.”

Editor's Notes

Eschewing famous people for interesting ones, you won’t find any celebrities on the pages of local publication Encounters – and that’s exactly what we love about it. We chat to its publisher/editor Shin about the evolution of Encounters from issue 1 to 3, and where the magazine is headed.

“When we first started, we didn’t have a clear idea of what we wanted to do. We just knew we wanted to feature interesting topics not found in mainstream media, and something very “grassroots”, which shows how Singaporeans live their everyday lives, like using void decks both for weddings and funerals. We ended up featuring people we already knew, like Benny from Uyii and Rebecca from Casual Days, and experiences we already had, to piece together issue 1.

Issue 2 is more consciously cohesive, in the sense that we tried to stay close to the theme of time travel. It was our editor Jemimah’s suggestion; we thought it sounded cool. For us, the whole point of doing your own mag is to have fun with it. If the theme is interesting and can be expanded to include enough material for one issue, we’ll go ahead with it.

Along the way, we also started to find out that a lot of people didn’t know what Encounters is about. When we explained that it’s about creative culture in general, but touches on a bit of everything like fashion and travel, whatever fits the theme; people would go “huh?”

We came up with the theme “light and dark” for issue 3 while working on issue 2. In the last feature, “Past x Future”, we talk about how Singapore is very “in between”. We have the past, including buildings like Rochor Centre, which is going to be demolished for the future. We need development but still feel nostalgic. I felt this story wasn’t enough, and wanted to explore the idea of being neither here nor there. Light and dark isn’t just about black and white or light and shadow, but the duality of things.

Moving onto issue 4, we’ve decided to get rid of the more random topics like fashion, and focus on what we feel most strongly about. Jem and I both came from a Mass Communications background, and did a bit of journalism, so we want to focus on more in-depth stories. That’s how the direction has changed over the past issues.

The theme is most likely going to be “development”. The idea came from the wet market story; it’s going to be an extension of that, to magnify that angle we captured. The process is quite experimental; we figure it out as as we go along. Even the look changes for every issue, based on the theme.”

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“Choosing not to feature a personality on the cover is a daring move for any magazine, and Riposte stands out from the sea of women’s magazines with its bold typography-driven cover.

I found the interview with Françoise Mouly, art editor of The New Yorker, very apt for its first issue. I read some interviews where Riposte’s founder, Danielle Pender, mentioned they took visual cues from vintage National Geographic magazines, which were very type-driven, and I think The New Yorker has a similar aesthetic.”

On My Mag Shelf

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As Creative Director of design studio HJGHER and Underscore magazine, and Chairman of The Design Society, Jerry’s one of the busiest people we know. So how does he unwind? With a magazine in hand, of course (as you’ll see on his Instagram feed at @bonjourjerry). The magazine fiend has one of the most eclectic collections we’ve seen – be it English or Japanese titles, sold-out first issues, hardbound journals or staple-stitched zines, fashion glossies or philosophy tomes, you’ll find them all tucked away in his stash.

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Mag of the Month

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From front to back, top to bottom, even the way it’s distributed, there’s nothing conventional about Works that Work. Every issue arrives in a different format – issue 2 is printed zine-style using saddle-stitch binding, with a cover that folds out into a poster of a giant rubber duck floating in Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong. Issue 3, meanwhile, is glossy, sleek and perfectly bound (with Otabind bounding). The pages within follow the same (non)-template, veering from matte to glossy, black and white to colour, full-bleed images to text-only.

The thing that remains constant is the outstanding content. Dedicated to examining the designs of well, works that work, its contributors weigh in on inventions from across the spectrum. A photographer shoots DIY footballs on a 7-month road trip across Africa. An abandoned water park is now used to grow mushrooms. We get a look at the female entrepreneurs continuing the good work of India’s now-famous sanitary pad revolutionary.

Even if the content has been touched on before, editor and founder Peter Bilak makes sure it always gets treated in a fresh, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that way … including the way the magazine is distributed, via what he terms reader-based “social distribution”. Curious? That’s exactly the way Bilak would like you to be.

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On My Mag Shelf


Alli is what we like to call the original “slashie”, launching Mmerci Encore – a soul-lifting aromatherapy atelier, along with a gorgeous (in visuals and spirit) blog – while working at Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore as Beauty Editor, and continuing to grow it into increasing levels of awesomeness even as she continues to hold a corporate day job (we really don’t know how she does it). Her magazine stash is as visually driven, and unabashedly mood-enhancing, as her brand – just check out her instagram account @mmerciencore for proof.

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