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Flavor and Fortune: To Date

by Jacqueline M. Newman


Winter Volume: 2015 Issue: 21(4) page(s): 37

Many e-mails arrive asking about the origins of this magazine. Our webmaster has just written a program to count and keep that information current telling everyone what was and what is. He has also updated the index listing making all book reviews and all restaurant reviews available from the time of their publication.

Here is what subscribers would have received if they ordered and paid for all issues, Volume 1(1) through Volume 21(4) which is this issue. They would have in their hands and homes or libraries:

81 total number of issues;

24 pages in early issues, 40 pages each issue now;

825 articles by

139 different authors;

500 articles by the editor;

458 Chinese cookery books reviewed;

254 restaurants reviewed or written about, and

1860 recipes published to date.

There is no longer hard copy for many early issues; understandable as this magazine began before 1994 at a meeting of those super-interested in Chinese food. They wanted to correct erroneous information about this cuisine, and they wanted to educate as many as they could about what Chinese food really is and was. They also wanted to provide this accurate material to all interested parties. Therefore, a group headed by Dr. Austin Kutscher got together at his dental office in or near Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. There were, I was told, were a half dozen there. Your editor was not but was invited by their suggesting she come to the next meeting; and she did. The year we 1993, the exact month and date long forgotten.

At that second meeting, the idea of designing and executing a magazine came into focus, its title and execution suggested by this soon to be selected editor. She was the only academic in the room, and was told she could and should do this task. Anyway, no one else wanted to do it. She suggested the name of Favor and Fortune. So this magazine was to be headed by someone enthusiastic but with no journalism experience nor education beyond the writing of a few academic papers.

The first issue of what was decided should begin as a quarterly, was designed by the niece of the dentist as she had already published many things for him; but she did not follow through on ideas of those in the room. The size was not the one decided upon, the cover and interior ink color were neither. The first issue was to be ready before this group's first conference to be called: Chinese Cuisine and the American Palate to be held at Queens College in September 1994. The magazine was to be included in the packets assembled the week before and ready to hand out to all who paid and registered to come.

This most experienced gal did arrive with the copies of that first issue, but only as the conference was beginning and the more than two hundred were already seated in the audience as were thirty-two press folk. As its editor, I was appalled at both looks and size. At the group's next meeting, I resigned, embarrassed and angry. However, my resignation was not accepted, and all at that meeting agreed we needed to redesign this magazine with help of a professional designer. I set about to do this task solo, wanting no repeated problems.

For those who wonder why only one issue in its first year. it took more than a year with professional help to move on. I was eager to learn about writing, publishing, and editing a food magazine on my favorite topic, Chinese food. As a slow learner with a full-time job, it took several years to really know what I was doing in ways deemed professional. My only regret, that more in that room were not involved with writing and raising funds to make this magazine the business manger's dream, and my baby.

No, I am not stepping down, though I do wish there was a successor in the wings. I will continue until that or I a no longer able to do so. This is not an idle threat, I an eighty-two and still healthy, but am a realist, and all good things do come to an end; as even one's life.

Articles in this magazine have been on line since June 1999; back issues catching up. Now all book and restaurant reviews are there as soon as the issue is published, articles about four years later when hard copy is no more. This magazine went from black and white to a few color photographs and to now every quarterly issue having dozens of them, most taken by the article's author.

Many say we have improved a lot, a few find us too academic, and a few say we are not academic enough because we need references in every issue, etc. Many readers want more recipes and less text; we are heading in the former direction with the number of recipes more than doubled from earlier issues. Some ask for unusual ingredients, others say they detest them. Clearly we can not please everyone, but hope most are pleased, and that our subscribers are too, Almost ninety percent do renew each year, and we hope they will continue to tell us what they like and do not like, make suggestions for articles, and keep joining the list of caring subscribers who renew each and every year, telling their friends to do likewise.

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