At work with: Michalis Michael, editor, Taverna

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This Monday we are in Greece with Michalis Michael, editor of Taverna. Centring around the food scene in Greece, the mag also aims to be an alternative travel guide that gets beneath the regular tourist hotspots. Michalis, who also edits Greece’s largest free newspaper, shares his week ahead.

Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
My journey to work is a pleasant 15-minute walk from the Kolonaki Area to Syntagma Square. I pick up coffee on the way from an old coffee shop and these days I listen to a lot of Bach. It helps me focus my thoughts and put the tasks for the day in order.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
It’s usually piles of books, proofs, papers, a laptop and another computer, a miniature Dutch oven my creative director gave me as a gift, and other small toys that I like to look at. On my wall, there are images that I like at the moment and some tasks neatly written down on post its. I try to keep it in order, but that rarely happens. I have made an effort to sort this before this interview!

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
I am currently obsessed with Cabana magazine. It’s probably the most beautiful publication I have seen in a long time with genius design, excellent photo editing and some very special texts.

This magazine is all about interiors and design – but there is so much more in there too. With every new issue, Martina Mondadori Sartogo and Christoph Radl give a masterclass in aesthetics.

Can you describe your magazine in three words?
Greece, food, real.

Issue one centred across the theme of ‘cooking with an open fire’ where will issue two take readers?
The second issue of Taverna is coming out in about two weeks hopefully! Τhis time, our goal was to travel as much as we could outside of Athens and try to show places and food that we don’t get to see often in magazines about Greece.

So, you will be travelling with us to the city of Volos, Mani, the Greek Islands and lake Doxa. You will be doing some foraging and learning about all the edible greens you can find here in the wild. Plus, a story with original artwork inspired by food in antiquity and a piece about the British artist John Craxton who lived here and adored Greek food!

Tell us about the indie mag scene in Greece
The scene in Greece is making some small but very interesting steps. It has evolved quite nicely the last five years or so. There are a lot of hurdles, the most important ones being the Greek language and the high cost of printing and shipping abroad. To my knowledge there is not a single indie publication here that feels confident enough to publish something in Greek only and that’s a waste because I strongly believe that there are a lot of Greek readers out there who want a different view on things and who are willing to buy indie magazines (Taverna runs Greek-language versions of its stories as an appendix).

One more issue with indie mags coming from Greece is finding a niche area of subjects to cover that would make sense for a magazine to be sold all over the world. Having said all that, I still believe that there is a lot of talent here and pretty soon we will see more magazines emerging from Greece.

Is there enough to Greek cuisine to justify a magazine dedicated to the subject?
Taverna is not just about Greek cuisine. Right from the start we wanted this magazine to be about “Food and all things nice in Greece”, that’s why we included this phrase on our cover and it now serves as our motto.

There are so many things here associated with good living that are rarely shown in guides, and it is this area of subjects that we are going to attempt to cover. In our first issue for example, we had a piece about free campers, a trend that is huge here. The point of this was not just food of course. We wanted to show off this very specific way of living that is quite unique here. Long summers, and wild beaches make camping under the trees a possibility. I can’t think of many places that free campers have the luxury to camp like the ones who spend their summers in the island of Gavdos for example.

We want to stand opposite to every single guide for Greece that shows you the usual tourist sites, and try to put down on paper all the things that you don’t often see. Food is of course the biggest part of this project but the story doesn’t end there!

What are you worrying about at work this week?
I am worried about printing dates. We are using a special paper for printing our cover that is imported and there is a delay. I hope we make it by Friday.

What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
I have an idea for our third issue, and I am looking forward to meeting the person who will consult me on this. There is going to be a lot of search in a rare photographic archive and that’s always a highlight for me.

What will you be doing after this chat?
I will go back to editing.

tavernamag.com

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