It’s been a full decade since we published the first issue of Feast. Honestly, I can’t believe that much time has passed since I first sat in my office – then devoid of anything other than a desk and a computer – and began building a budget for this new publication, brainstorming the name, pulling together initial ideas for content, hiring staff, cultivating relationships with freelancers, developing a distribution plan… It took months of effort for us to get to that first issue in August 2010. Holding the premier edition in my hands, with a huge, gorgeous White Barn burger on the cover, was the culmination of a great deal of groundwork being laid by many, many people. However, it was merely the beginning of an incredible journey that I could barely conceive in those early days.
At its heart, Feast is a celebration of the role that food plays in our lives. Yes, we cover restaurants and bars, but we also explore farming, home cooking, food history and the work of our region’s many makers.
Our tagline, Inspired Food Culture, informs everything we produce. Food is, and always has been, a reflection of culture. Today, as we look inward and recognize our shortcomings in terms of proper representation of the breadth and diversity of culinary experience, the Feast team is actively working to further hone our platform, bringing ever more voices and perspectives to the table. As we broaden and deepen our coverage, we aim to honor the perspectives of our incredibly diverse community and, as we look toward the next decade of the magazine’s evolution, produce ever more content that dives deep to tell the true story of the role that food plays in our lives.
The past decade has allowed me the honor of meeting hundreds of farmers, makers and chefs across Missouri, Illinois and Kansas who dedicate their lives to their work. Almost without exception, these people are focused on more than the products they make; they are dedicated to the relationships they build and the communities they call home. Here at Feast, all of us – from the core staff to our extended network of contributors – are committed to telling their stories and connecting you with those who nourish our region. We hope that you are inspired, enlightened and entertained by the magazine that we produce each month, but more than that, we hope that you are more fully connected to the people in your communities.
And arguably, there has never been a more important time to connect with –and support – these people. Throughout these past months, small independent businesses have been impacted more deeply than big companies with big pockets. The culinary industry, which is largely dependent on the gathering together of customers, cooks and servers, has taken an especially tough hit. Believe it or not, one in four people who are newly unemployed due to the pandemic worked in the restaurant industry. The entire food-and-drink industry is huge – it is one of our state’s biggest employers and, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, revenue from the restaurant industry was, until recently, four percent of the nation’s GDP. And it’s not just the cafés and restaurants and bars that are taking a hit – the impact trickles down to all of the people who are part of the larger landscape, including farmers, fishermen, distillers, vintners, brewers, cheesemakers, bread bakers… The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people who feed us is deep and wide-reaching.
As we look toward the next decade of Feast, we're doubling down our commitment to supporting these people who make our region so delicious, even throughout challenging times.
In our September issue, which hits stands today, we bring you some of the people who have successfully innovated during this time, finding ways to not simply stay afloat but to create new revenue streams and explore unique ways of doing business, from opening a bottle shop to launching a line of frozen pizzas to selling grill packs that include the grill. While times are still very difficult for just about everyone in the culinary world, there are some definite bright spots that remind all of us of the grit and tenacity of those who work each day to make our lives just a bit more fun – and a lot more flavorful.
From all of us here at Feast, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to do this work and tell these stories. We look forward to another decade of culinary exploration.