five questions for kelli brett

Cuisine editor Kelli Brett relocated from Melbourne to head up the magazine earlier this year, and has also taken over as national director of Fairfax’s food channel. We tracked her down to ask what she plans to do with the country’s most iconic food magazine.

kellibrettKelli grew up in her mother’s gourmet food store, then went on to work in five-star hotel management and events before shifting into media, eventually presenting The Main Ingredient with Kelli Brett, which ran nationally on ABC networks and won a World Food Media award for best food-and-wine radio.

She also conceived and wrote Australia Cooks, working across the country with home chefs, artisan producers and regional chefs – all the while working full time as content director for ABC. Since starting at the magazine, this bundle of energy seems to have spent much of her time racing about the country, getting to know the local food scene.

What drew you to Cuisine?

It’s my dream job! I’d got to a point where I didn’t want to cover political spills and breaking news anymore – unless it was about FOOD. I’ve stalked Cuisine for many years, and the opportunity to work with the talented team behind it and help it grow and remain relevant in the current media landscape was the dream job. Plus I can now look at food porn on Facebook and call it research!

What is the place of food magazines in the face of the digital revolution?
Cuisine will remain relevant because it is not one size fits all. I think there will always be a demand for printed specialist product ­– it becomes a luxury item. We are all glued to screens every minute of the day: it’s hard to switch off when you are connected. A magazine allows you to have some me time.

Having said that, our ever-demanding audience expects a digital experience that works alongside the printed product. The challenge is to make the print magazine our Cuisine temple and add a digital experience to that which services the needs of our audiences online, and reaches a new audience.

What changes can we expect – both online and off?
More stories behind the food on our plate. Cuisine will always have sexy recipes, frank and honest restaurant reviews and the latest food news, but we will now also focus on the stories behind the food on our plate. A really good read in print, and more audio and video online. The people who grow and produce our food. The issues and challenges that need to be addressed. Solutions. Inspiration. Ideas. A celebration of the passionate people who are mad enough to want to build a career in food or drink.

Food’s turning into one of the critical issues of the 21st century. As food writers, what role do we have to play beyond writing nice recipes?

I believe our audience is ready for more information that will help them to make informed choices. We have a responsibility to talk about the good and the bad, provide ideas and inspiration and also shine a global spotlight on New Zealand and its evolving food story. We don’t need to preach to our audience, but we do need to ask questions and supply information to enable them to decide.

What was the last thing you cooked?
Ginny Grant’s smoked-fish pie from our latest issue. #Yum.