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Joline Rivera, Kitchen Toke
At work with

Joline Rivera, Kitchen Toke

We start the new week in the company of Chicago-based art director Joline Rivera, founder and creative director of Kitchen Toke. This new food magazine concentrates on one integral ingredient – cannabis – and we meet Jolin as issue three goes into production.

Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
My first cup of coffee is my commute. I’ve been working from home for over 20 years. To get the most done in a short amount of time, I have to manage my schedule really well—except for my first cup of coffee on a Monday morning. That, I savour and then I hit the pavement and knock out a five-mile run.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
My desk is a really cool handmade black steel piece I had made for me from Scout in Chicago. I love this desk, so I keep it neat.

I’m really organised, I have two nice little piles next to my computer. One is a stack of magazines I want to go through, the other is a story line up and preproduction document for my next shoot for Kitchen Toke. I like neat. I can’t think when things are messy. Besides Kitchen Toke I’m the creative director for 10 other magazines every quarter (approximately 40 per year). It’s a little crazy, being organised is necessary.

I’m on an 11th floor building in the West Loop of Chicago. I can see the rooftop pool of Soho House. I’m a member and I don’t get there enough… so I admire it from my office. I can see the Work Space building that says, “Love where you work.” I do; I’m home.

Which magazine do you first remember?
The inaugural issue of Critique: The Magazine of Graphic Design Thinking, 1996. Seriously, it was love at first sight. I will never forget holding this magazine in my hands. The paper, the stories, the thinking, I found a home in it. I was a student at the time and this magazine represented everything I wanted to be. It inspired me to say to my brother once, “one-day people will hire me to think for them.” It took a while, but I was right.

Critique was filled with inspiring and well written interviews and case studies by all the people designers cared about, such as Paul Rand, written by Steven Heller. This magazine became the leading forum for “improving design effectiveness through critical analysis.” For me, it bridged the gap between creatives and business and that’s what I wanted to do. At the time I knew I needed a career that allowed me to be creative but I also needed to make money, this magazine showed me it was more than possible.

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
Monocle, it’s a little bit of everything. It’s well written with thoughtful design.

Drift is a calm magazine, it’s relaxing at first sight and sometimes I just need to look at clean design and photography inspiring me to travel. And Dwell because if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing, I’d be redesigning homes.

Can you describe your magazine in three words?
Cooking with Cannabis

Cannabis and cooking retains a slightly student stoner image; do you think this is changing?
Every single day. People ask me all the time if I smoke and then say, “Sorry that’s a personal question, you don’t have to answer that.” I’m happy to answer it. I don’t smoke. But I do microdose. I’m one of the many people that you would look at and never think I would be into cannabis. Just the fact that we call it cannabis instead of pot, weed, ganja, grass, bud…whatever else you can think of means its changing.

Excuse the pun, but the conversation is already a more elevated one. That stoner image is nowhere near how I run my business, my day or my life. I’m the complete opposite, which is probably why microdosing is good for me. My days get crazy and sometimes it helps to just take me from fifth-gear to first. I’ve been approached by more soccer moms asking me for weed or gummies than you’d probably imagine. People are already using CBD daily.

It’s only a matter of time before the mainstream realizes the health benefits behind cannabis. We’ll soon see people microdosing with 3-5 mg and every morning in place of their daily vitamin.

The world still seems split between those areas that are open to leniency on cannabis and those that still want to clamp down on its use. Can you see a day when most countries soften their approach to the drug?
We’re seeing it now with demonstrations like the one on 20th April in London’s Hyde Park. The more people speak up, the more prevalent it’ll be. I just read an article yesterday and the headline said, “Pot was flying off the shelves in Uruguay.” Uruguay just became the first country to fully legalize marijuana sales for recreational use last month.

What’s your favourite recipe you’ve published?
I’ve been shooting, producing, art directing magazines and cookbooks for over 20 years and I’ve been tempted to try food more times than I can count. But I rarely eat the food we make for shoots. I can’t. I’d be running 10 miles a day instead of five. Anyone who’s been on a shoot with me will tell you, I never eat on shoots. But I made an exception on our last Kitchen Toke shoot... I didn’t eat it because it was infused; I ate it because it’s something I’ve never seen, taste or photographed.

Last month on location on a ranch outside of Los Angeles, we were shooting the summer issue of Kitchen Toke with chef Derek Simcik. He made a salad but not just any salad. This one tasted really good, really fresh. Grilled spicy watermelon, greens and freshly chopped cannabis leaves. It doesn’t make you high but the leaves have health benefits. I’ve never felt better about eating something than I did that day. I ate the entire bowl.

What are you worrying about at work this week?
Balance. I do a lot of work. I have a lot of clients. And I have a lot of people counting on me to get their magazines done. I worry about balance… making time for myself, my personal life, the things that are most important to me, Kitchen Toke being one of them. I like to do things that make me happy, that are fun creatively, personally and professionally.

When something or someone takes my joy, it’s no longer fun and I don’t do them anymore. Right now, I’d like to cut loose a few to retain the balance I love so much. When I’m happy, I’m balanced and more creative. That’s where I like to be.

What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
It just happened today. A good friend sent me a video of his 11-year-old son flipping through Kitchen Toke. He asked his dad, “Are you ever going to cook with weed or marijuana? This magazine is cool there’s a lot of good food in here. It’s not for me because it has marijuana in it but it’s like gourmet with weed.”

What will you be doing after this chat?
Calling my editor, walking my dogs, and enjoying some down time.

Twitter @kitchentoke

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