Myffy Rigby, Swill
Our first At Work With interview for 2023 features the editor of Australian food magazine Swill, a new launch that has made an immediate impression.
The large-format magazine was launched with the promise, ‘It must be weird, and it must be beautiful.’ Editor Myffy Rigby is the person charged with achieving that. Since bumming around restaurants in her twenties, working as a short order cook, she has written for just about every major leading food mag. She tells us about the new magazine, and offers advice on how to keep your magazine unique.
What are you up to this Monday morning?
It’s a weird morning, this morning. I found myself all over the shop all last week—falling out of bed feet first at 5am to make a plane to the hinterland of Byron Bay to interview Australian rock star Tex Perkins, then finding I live just down the road from a sex club and deciding to make a story about that too.
Turns out nobody wears sexy clothes when they’re running a sex club, they wear gym gear. Anyway, this morning, I’m transcribing both those interviews for the pages of issue three, and the two stories could not be more different in pitch and tone.
Where are you?
I’m sitting at my vintage desk in my office, which is in a warehouse just off Bourke Street in Surry Hills, Sydney. The sun’s streaming in, Nina Simone’s Pastel Blues is playing and someone is just about to do a coffee run. It's very serene.
Which magazine do you first remember?
Penthouse—our next door neighbour had a huge stack of them in his bathroom and I used to love going in there and looking at pictures of the huge fake boobs and massive heads of blonde hair. I was completely mesmerised - they were like living, breathing Barbie dolls. I think the first magazine I remember truly being inspired by, though, was Black and White, closely followed by British Vogue.
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
I love reading all the food magazines I can get my hands on—Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Observer Food Monthly—they may be very different from Swill, but they keep me informed, and I love to read recipes. It’s very soothing.
Describe Swill in three words.
Wild. Informative. Irrepressible.
How is the magazine funded?
The magazine is owned and funded by Swillhouse, the hospitality family behind the likes of Restaurant Hubert, Alberto’s Lounge, Shady Pines and Baxter Inn, with two more venues opening this year. Interestingly, though, there is very little content linked to these venues. The way owner/publisher Anton Forte looks at it, Swill is its own venue, rather than a marketing mouthpiece.
You’ve worked on a number of food magazines; what have you taken from these that you’ve applied to Swill?
Ahhhh, difficult question. I love it.
Do: remain open, honest and completely at ease with going the extra mile for a story. Do: tick every box to make sure the job is complete. Do: make a habit of sending a thank you note to everyone you interview. Do: be aware that the stakes are high for every subject you interview, even if they’re not all that high for you. Don’t: say no, just because you don’t feel like doing something. Don’t: tell, ask. Don't: let them see the whites of your eyes.
What one thing do you hope the reader will take away from your magazine?
I hope that anyone who picks up the magazine is lost in the world of Swill. We’re here to deliver big, beautiful stories that take the reader slightly out of their comfort zone. It’s nice when a magazine is a two way street between the person reading it and the person making it. I think it’s a relationship we could explore more, in the publishing industry.
I’m in Sydney for one night; where should I eat?
Outside of Hubert and Alberto’s Lounge (natch) I think Sydney is home to the best Thai food in the country. If we were having dinner together, I’d take you to Spice I Am–you’d be cramped, sweaty and elbowed (a lot), but you’d eat the best fermented rice noodles outside of Chiang Mai.
What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
I’m really looking forward to organising this sex club photoshoot. I asked the photographer what she was looking for in terms of models for the shoot and she said ‘timeless bodies in the style of Rodin.’ I think it’s going to be a very beautiful and surprising piece of work.
Art director Allie Webb
The Shop has sold out of Swill, but we hope to have more copies soon.