MiNDFOOD's 7th birthday issue is on the stands! Launched in 2008 by husband and wife team Michael and Michelle McHugh, the magazine has carved a multi-platform niche for itself both in Australia and New Zealand. This week we talk to Editor-in-Chief Michael McHugh about milestones, the magic of connecting with readers, and his mum.
MiNDFOOD is an independent publication – you are both Editor-in-Chief and Publisher. What sets MiNDFOOD apart from other magazines?
We have a range of different media platforms that readers feel connected with, and I think we have been consistent over the years in delivering content that makes you think, and perhaps at the same time re-examine your own life. It’s all about ‘smart thinking’ and being a small family run independent media company has allowed us a freedom to create and deliver a consistency that perhaps you don't see so much in larger media companies these days.
April is a very special issue of MiNDFOOD – Happy 7th Birthday! What are some of the highlights of the last seven years?
I think the connection we have with the reader, and the level of engagement is probably what we are most proud of. As editor I would get around a dozen emails a week from readers who felt compelled to write to us and share their story or how a feature has helped them. Being small means we are nimble which has allowed us to move fast and develop long lasting relationships with readers, advertisers and suppliers over the years.
Dame Judi Dench graces MiNDFOOD’s cover this month. How do you manage to entice such impressive cover stars (the roll-call includes Oprah, Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp, Julianne Moore) to the magazine?
MiNDFOOD is part of the Hollywood Foreign Press and we have had our own writer/US Correspondent based in Los Angles since launch, which has meant extraordinary access over the years.
This month’s issue includes features on Greek food in Sydney, eating in Brooklyn New York, cooking with honey and an Easter baking guide, as well as weekly meal plans. Is food foundational to MiNDFOOD?
Food is an important part of the DNA of MiNDFOOD and we send both daily recipes and weekly menu plans to readers. We have always cooked from within the season, using affordable and accessible ingredients, and also champion the producer who grows the ingredients. Our recipes are easy to follow, always work and over the years readers have commented that our recipes have now become family favourites.
Wellbeing of body and mind is central to the ethos of MiNDFOOD. How important is it to find holistic balance in our busy lives?
More and more research shows that we all need to have a more holistic approach to life. In reality trying to get a work/life balance while you have work, family, and financial commitments sometimes can lead to health issues if its physical or mental, and looking after yourself can be well down the line of focus. The more psychology stories and first hand personal journeys through different life experiences always get a lot of interest and feedback. I have also realised we have a responsibility to our readers in presenting new, and sometimes old fashion thinking, so as they can work out what works for them. Its important our features are accessible, and not too academic in approach. There are a lot of people out there in society that sometimes need a gentle guide and MiNDFOOD has a role to play within that. Since launching I have seen mental health issues becoming more prominent and being discussed in a much more open forum. When we run anything around that topic, particularly if we run a cover line, we do get a massive response, and the feedback is overwhelming in terms of how it has helped people in their thinking and life.
What’s the best part of being Ed in Chief of MiNDFOOD? The worst part?
The best part would be sitting with our talented staff and laughing about an idea we think might work, and then seeing them bring it to life and making it work. Also we are currently running a competition around #makethecake, where all staff across the month of the promotion are making a cake, as are readers, which I am enjoying although the cake I made hasn't seem to have had the impact I was wishing for on social media. Worse part is not seeing my family enough particularly my youngest who is still at school, and doesn't like it when I am away from home. Like most parents who travel away for work, there is a sense of guilt, that doesn't sit comfortably with me.
MiNDFOOD is created by a collaborative team, including us, the readers. How does reader feedback help shape Mindfood?
It shapes MiNDFOOD completely, without honest open dialogue, MiNDFOOD would not be the success it is today. I read the emails we get from readers out to the team, and respond to them all, as I see the readers as an important part of MiNDFOOD, not just the end user. The most important thing I have learnt is to listen. And that has been a huge thing for me to really stop and listen, rather than charging ahead and doing what I ‘think’ is right. Our readers are smart, and whenever we hold events it’s always good to actually meet them in person, and they often comment on a story we have run and how it affected their lives.
Mother’s Day is approaching! Can you give us a sneak peak of upcoming issues? Why would mum love MiNDFOOD?
My mum is 92, and last year had a stroke, and recently ended up back in hospital. It has been a tough year, but I have learnt so much about my mum, her resilience, and also being a parent myself, so I wanted to capture some of that within this mothers day issue. We have recipes from Margaret Fulton, my favourite recipe my mum use to make when people came for lunch when I was a child. We also look at how different cultures around the world celebrate Mothers day, and Cate Blanchett, in her new role not only as the evil step mother, but as a modern mother to her new baby daughter. I have realised that the role of mother is so crucial to life and the type of people we have the potential to become. The issue has a great celebratory feel to it.
How important are subscribers to the magazine? Why subscribe?
We have retained subscribers since launch, and I love meeting readers that tell me how they have collected every issue. A subscription to MiNDFOOD is cheaper than news stand, and also it’s like having your own gift arriving through the mail every month. Its amazing value and you can always find something in MiNDFOOD each time you pick it up. The perfect gift for mum this mothers day.