Story by Kris Boobyer

Andy Harris is the editor of Jamie Magazine. In this interview he talks to us about what makes the magazine so special.

What does being Editor of a magazine actually entail?
Day-to-day involves overseeing all aspects of the magazine business; creating the issue with all the staff, overseeing budgets, working on sales and distribution, advertising, PR and new business ideas. Ultimately, on a creative level, it’s a bit like being a conductor in charge of getting the best out of an orchestra with a piece of music.

How did you come to be working with Jamie?
Jamie rang me up in middle of the night when I was living and working in Australia and asked me if I wanted to start a magazine with him. I didn’t hesitate and sleepily said “yes”.

When did you first meet?
We had a mutual friend, David Loftus, who worked with both of us. David did some of his first food
Shoots with me in 1995 at Vogue Entertaining & Travel. Jamie, David and I spent a day doing a story together in New York for Taste – a magazine I started for Williams-Sonoma in 2001. We seemed to get on and kept in touch on and off since then.

Where did the idea for Jamie Magazine come from?
Jamie’s wanted to do a magazine for years and thought the time was right for something that
Celebrated all his different business ventures and campaigns. I suggested we turned it into a mainstream news-stand food and lifestyle magazine.

What makes it different from other ‘foodie’ magazines?
We are the only food magazine, that I know of, to currently print on uncoated paper. The paper enables our food and travel images to come alive with a wonderful viscosity that is sometimes unexpected.

How much input does Jamie have into the magazine?
As much as possible, as with all his other businesses. He reads all the pages before they go to press and constantly suggests ideas for stories.

Does it very long take to put an issue together?
In theory 2 months.

How many people work in your team?
We now have 6 staff members: Paul Dring – Managing Editor, Holly O’Neill – Deputy Editor, Adrienne Pitts – Art Director, Georgia Levy – Editorial Assistant and Julia Hall – Circulation and Promotions Manager. We also use sub-editors and designers on a regular freelance basis.

What were you doing before your position here?
I was Editorial Director of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Did you always want to work in the magazine industry?
No, I wanted to be an archaelogist and poet but ended up being a barrow boy and barman before progressing to chef and food writer.

How did you start out on this career path?
I was one of the winners of the annual Vogue Talent Contest and got my first job as a travel writer on Vogue and Tatler. Then I became Food and Drink Editor of Elle for 10 years. I was always working in restaurants as well, in the early years, to support myself and my travelling.

You mentioned that you lived in Australia for a while. How did it compare to the UK? What do you like about each?
Tough! I went down to the beach every morning for a swim before work. For a lot of people, Australia is the promised land, but after 5 years there I was missing Europe, even though I travelled back a lot. Ultimately, I love every place i’ve ever lived in for long periods of time; San Francisco, New York, Paris, Athens, Sydney and am sad to leave them all! They’ve all been home and have a place in my heart. From London, it’s a lot easier to travel and do great stories for the magazine, which is my passion, so I’d have to say coming home to London wins!

What have been your favourite places to visit?
I love South America and have had some wild times there over the years. One of my first commissions was to cover the Rio Carnival for The Sunday Times. I remember arriving off the flight from London and going straight up to the Sugar Loaf Ball by rickety funicular, in a tropical storm. Once there, I was greeted by a statuesque beauty who snogged me at the entrance. ‘That was a real honour,” my friend said. “You’ve just been kissed by the most famous trannie in Rio!”

Where do the ideas for the different articles come from?
All of us! Either stuff we want to do, trends we want to cover, things Jamie wants to do and sometimes stories that others suggest.

What’s been your favourite article?
Tough one! I love them all for different reasons but Fun in the Sun (Issue 1), Mzoli’s (Issue 2), The Heart of the Ardeche (Issue 2), 3 Tenors (Issue 3), Gates of the Wind (Issue 4), Paul Levy’s Finger-lickin’ childhood (Issue 4), Swans Bake (Issue 5), Baked Good (Issue 6) and Jamie’s Xmas recipe story (Issue 7).

You’ve already featured an interview with Brad Pitt. If you could interview anyone, who would it be?
President Obama, because I believe he still has the power to change the world.

Do you read any other publications in yourspare time?
Weekend Financial Times, Saturday Guardian, National Geographic, Vanity Fair.

How are your cooking skills? Any specialities?
I love cooking any Mediterranean, Moroccan and South American food. I particularly like seafood (if you can find any you’re allowed to eat now!) As it’s so easy to prepare. I especially like slow-cooking octopus I’ve just caught with my speargun in Greece and marinating them with thin slivers of garlic, chopped parsley, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Finally, on a completely random note, You ride a motorbike”¦Why this mode of transport? Mid-life crisis?
Some would call it a scooter! I had a Vespa in Sydney and have loved them ever since. My first week at work here, travelling on the underground in rush hour, made me go straight out and buy another one.

About the author: Kris Boobyer is part of Jamie's team.

For more information on Jamie Magazine.