It’s been something of a cheesy week here on It’s Nice That. Last Thursday we spoke to the team behind ManvsMachine’s dynamic new TV ads for cheese brand Castello. And this week we had the pleasure of getting a sneak peak at the new issue of sumptuous culinary magazine The Gourmand, with its strikingly cheesy cover.
“We had the idea for the feature and it lent itself particularly well to a cover,” says Dave Lane, the co-founder and creative director of The Gourmand, referring to the photo series shot by Jenny van Sommers and art directed by himself and Marina Tweed, which captured “sneaky critters in the act of scaling their favourite milky wedge” (as the contents page puts it). “I’m all for sticking to the traditions of what makes a good cover – subject in the middle, eye contact, nice and clean. But rather than a celebrity or achingly current model, we at The Gourmand favour a non-human cover star.”
In the past, Dave and his team have put the Cookie Monster on the cover, as well as a pretzel with eyes and an apple wearing a shirt. “So a mouse was a pretty logical progression,” he says. “And who doesn’t like cheese? Even vegans like cheese – they just aren’t allowed to eat it.”
In this twelfth issue of the magazine, readers are treated to seven pictures of different mice on different cheeses, all shot by Jenny van Sommers (with post production by Hempstead May). We see Jonas perched on a pyramid of Emmental, Ruben atop a wedge of Gouda, and Amelie on a “pillar of Boucheron”, to mention just a few. It’s Jonas on the cover, by the way, in case you were wondering.
“My first paying job as a photographer was to photograph the winning chickens at an agricultural show,” Jenny tells It’s Nice That, when asked if she finds it tricky shooting live animals. “The mice were very easy going and super cool to work with. We had a casting to find the most interesting mice and then the mouse man [from Performing Pets] brought them along and simply placed them on the cheese.” At least one surprising discovery happened during the shoot. “The funny thing is that they had zero interest in actually eating the cheese,” says Jenny. “It turns out they don’t like cheese.”
The series also threw up some amusing creative opportunities. “The fun part of the shoot was pairing the right mouse with the right cheese – finding some kind of visual relationship based on the ‘personality’ of each cheese and each mouse,” says Jenny. “I’m delighted with these pictures because there is an intimacy I didn’t expect. Like the black-and-white mouse that is sitting facing away from the camera seems to be pondering the mystery of life.”
Elsewhere in the issue, food-lovers will find a variety of culinary content, from a piece about multidisciplinary artist Antoni Miralda and his FoodCultura museum to an homage to the late critic Jonathan Gold and his love of lesser-known eateries in Los Angeles. There’s also a feature called “Refreshingly Shit Coffee With Jerry Saltz”, which, as Dave puts it, “pretty much does what it says on the tin”; not to mention the usual balance of interviews, essays, and pieces of fiction.
Then there is a feature called “Faking It”, a series of images shot by Amy Currell, with set design by Gemma Tickle, that resemble dishes and plates of food, but which are actually made up of mundane household objects, chosen for their perfectly matching shapes and colours. As Amy explains, the shoot “had a very playful and graphic element”. So, in her and Gemma’s imagination, a broom becomes the stem of a bunch of grapes and a basketball a meatball atop a pile of spaghetti.
If all that hasn’t whetted your appetite, we don’t know what will! Apart from perhaps a hint from Dave that he’s currently working on what he refers to as “Gourmand books”, so keep an eye out for those. In the meantime, Issue 12 of the magazine is on sale now and can be bought here. Bon Appétit!