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Hope Cunningham, Chicken + Bread
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Hope Cunningham, Chicken + Bread

Hope Cunningham launched her magazine Chicken + Bread to express the black experience of food—the meals themselves and the culture and community that surrounds them.

She tells us more as issue three arrives on shelves, a bright, colourful reflection on the joy that food brings.

What are you doing this Monday morning?
This morning, I’m getting back into my groove after the public holiday. (two days for the weekend isn’t enough…and neither is three!). I wake up at 7:30, make myself an espresso shot and an egg and sausage sandwich and make my way into the office—Somerset House in Central London. I take the train halfway, then walk the rest, It’s usually quite a nice way to start the morning, but the rain this morning didn’t help.


Describe your work environment
When I’m working my day job at Somerset House, I’m in an open-plan office in the lower levels of the building. It’s usually quite a quiet environment but a walk around the building means rubbing shoulders with artists working from the Studios, creative business owners in from coworking spaces, and, when the weather permits, nothing beats having lunch in the courtyard, being flanked by neoclassical buildings from all sides.

My work-from-home days are a little more humble from my studio flat. My desk faces the window and my view is a quiet residential street. The comings and goings of my neighbours outside make for a good distraction when I’ve been looking at my computer screen for too long.  

Which magazine do you first remember?
Teen Vogue was the first magazine I remember loving. I used to pick up a copy every month, in my early teenage years. I lived in the Caribbean at the time and Teen Vogue kept me in touch with fashion trends that I didn’t have easy access to so far from the London high street.


Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
Thinking about Teen Vogue reminds me of Rookie Mag (RIP), by Tavi Gevinson. I was first introduced to it in the pages of Teen Vogue and I was mesmerised by Tavi, who was quite young at the time but could create a creative platform that turned into a respected publication. Subconsciously, I think it had a strong impact on me!  



Describe chicken + bread in three words
Hearty, warming, filling.

What inspired you to launch a magazine about food?
I’ve always wanted to work for a magazine, but didn’t end up taking the traditional route by studying journalism at University. My thinking was, if I’m not qualified to work for someone else’s magazine, why not try making one myself?

Food felt like a natural topic because it was something I loved; we all have a relationship to it but it was a subject I felt I didn’t engage with socially with my peers. Chicken + bread felt like it was a remedy for this. All the food media I consumed (mainly on TV/YouTube) was through a white lens so it felt right for the spotlight to be on PoC for once, especially since that was the food I grew up eating.


How do you select the issue themes?
What I’m going through at the time dictates the theme of each issue. Issue one’s theme (nostalgia) was informed by the obsessive reminiscing I was doing through the pandemic. Whether it be going through my phone and longing to spend time with friends, or going through old family photo albums, I was feeling reflective and wanted the first issue to reflect that.


Issue two came off the back of a stressful year when everything felt like it was going wrong. After feeling intense sadness for so long, ‘recovery’ felt like a good theme to start my healing process. Issue three is a product of coming out of that process and feeling like myself again.

You put together the magazine on your own. Which part of the process do you enjoy the most?
The reminders that people actually read the magazine are always special. When I spend months editing articles and doing graphic design when I have no formal training, it’s easy to convince myself that what I’m producing is no good. So, when I get messages from people about when they can expect the next issue and that they are excited for it, it’s always really empowering.

I also really enjoy the design process; I can see my eye for design maturing over the three issues I’ve worked on.  

Highlight one story from the current issue that sums up the magazine and its mission
‘Untouched Koobi (Ko-bee)” by Enyonam Ansah. The accompanying recipe with this article was the first time this recipe was written down. Enyonam had to speak to her mum and go through the process of immortalising a dish that had previously been committed to memory. Many recipes of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora persevere in this way but we must archive our histories and part of chicken + bread’s mission is to do this through recipes.

What advice do you have for anyone planning to launch a magazine?
There are no rules and you should embrace that.

What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
I’m looking forward to going to dinner with a friend at West African restaurant Akara later this week.


Buy your copy from the magCulture Shop

Chicken + Bread #3

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