The return of Edible Memphis

There was one thing Bill Ganus promised himself for 2018: no new projects. But ... an opportunity arose that he couldn't pass up. "I had the chance to tell important stories about connecting people with food systems," he says. The conduit for those stories was Edible Memphis, which was shut down a year ago by founder Melissa Petersen after 10 years in print.

Ganus, who is partner in such businesses as Flow Cryotherapy and the Rec Room, admits he has no background in media, but he plans to call upon his skills in leveraging and team-building. For the team, he recruited as his editor in chief Brian Halweil of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. Halweil will work on Edible Memphis from New York.

"I'm ready to see potential Edible ideas, community-building ideas, in another area," says Halweil. He sees a bit of Brooklyn in Memphis. But it's a Brooklyn that no longer exists. He sees it in the breweries and coffee shops, in the logos. He finds the city's energy exciting.

click to enlarge Passing the Edible torch — - Bill Ganus (left) and Stacey Greenberg - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Passing the Edible torch — Bill Ganus (left) and Stacey Greenberg

Another key member is Stacey Greenberg, who will act as managing editor. "She lives and breathes Memphis food," Ganus says, pointing out that Greenberg is about as an authentic foodie as they come. "Memphians demand authenticity," he says.

"My vision for the magazine is that it really represents Memphis. All of Memphis," says Greenberg. "I've tried really hard to find a variety of writers and photographers to help us create something special. I reached out to the MABJ [Memphis Association of Black Journalists] and the internet at large to find some new voices, and I'm really excited with who I found. They're people I'd love to get all in one room someday — until then the magazine is that room."

Petersen, for her part, says giving the keys to Ganus made sense to her. "We had several people who were interested in taking over the magazine, but several were only interested in one or two pieces of the process. There are not-as-fun parts of creating a magazine — selling ads, doing the bookkeeping, delivering hundreds of boxes in July — but they have to be done," she says. "Bill Ganus really did the legwork to come up with a plan for the entire process. And he's assembled a team of people to share the work and grow things exponentially."

Part of that growth is upping Edible Memphis' online game — create a usable website and posting on Instagram and other social media. What was never in consideration, however, was to make Edible Memphis online only. Ganus says that there is no substitute for opening a magazine, turning the pages, and seeing a beautiful spread of food photography. "It works best in paper," he says.

Another part of the plan is to introduce up to five food festivals to complement Memphis' lineup of other food festivals.

Edible Memphis will be on a quarterly release schedule, and Halweil imagines profiling local farmers and highlighting locally made products. They will not do restaurant reviews. They will not break news. He defines the editorial approach as akin to boosterism. "It will be celebratory and educational, a little bit rah-rah," he says.

Ganus sees Edible Memphis as an invaluable source to Memphians who care about food. (We all care.) He says, "Edible Memphis will be the go-to local outlet for food and agriculture-related news. I'm committed to doing it well."

Edible Memphis will relaunch in early November.

One byline you can expect to see in the new Edible Memphis is that of Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence, aka the Chubby Vegetarian. Burks and Lawrence are the author of two cookbooks. They've cooked at the James Beard House and contributed their vegetarian recipes to several local restaurants.

click to enlarge Amy Lawrence and Justin Fox Burks, aka the Chubby Vegetarian
  • Amy Lawrence and Justin Fox Burks, aka the Chubby Vegetarian

Their latest venture is a partnership with PeachDish, a meal kit delivery service.

According to Burks, PeachDish followed them on Instagram and became fans of the Chubby Vegetarian. Amy reached out to them and suggested a collaboration.

PeachDish suggested they veganize their recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes Po'boy with their Cold Oven Sweet Potato Fries.

click to enlarge Fried Green Tomatoes Po’boy
  • Fried Green Tomatoes Po’boy

Burks says what sets PeachDish apart from other meal-kit services is their commitment to use only local produce. The company also keeps packaging waste to minimum.

Ultimately, Burks says, he's for anything that gets people in the kitchen and cooking.

The Chubby Vegetarian meal kit will be available September 10th, peachdish.com.

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