FatBoy’s third issue is a greedy attempt to document East Asian food

We catch up with founder Christopher O’Leary and discuss how the zine has evolved and matured since its debut a little over a year ago.

24 August 2020


We first met FatBoy back in 2019 when it launched its inaugural issue celebrating the wonderful world of East Asian cuisine and culture. Its mouthwatering pages provided the lowdown on tasty fried chicken recipes, dark pork belly, and seared tuna; and through its zine-like pages, we lucky readers were able to delve into a very small corner of Asian culture.

A little over a year later, Christopher O’Leary and Emily Leonard are back with the third issue. “It’s been a really interesting change,” says Christopher. “People started reaching out and we had more conversations about all the topics the zine touches on, and even some more personal experiences.” The latest issue therefore takes on multiple forms of perspective. Kenneth Lam, Cynthia Chou and Jacco Bunt are just a few of the new contributors, honouring Asian food culture with beautiful photography, determined writing and sumptuous illustrations respectively. Also worth mentioning is Xavier Manhang’s intimate street photography and Emily Leonard’s honest food photography.

While Cynthia tackles food identity and politics in Hong Kong, Kenneth explores age and growth with regards to his grandmother. They also helped shape the overall design of the third zine, an aesthetic which has grown in confidence since its debut, having become more comfortable using the dishes to interpret the rest of the visuals. As Christopher puts it, the latest issue is “designing to food, instead of around it,” which has in turn led the creators into some strange but exciting spaces.

GalleryFatBoy Issue 3


FatBoy Issue 3: Grandma Lam (Photography by Kenneth Lam)

Like its predecessor, however, the food and recipes act as a tool for communication. Picking the featured dishes carefully, Christopher was sure to centre each dish around the theme of community. Whether the food is associated with celebration, fine dining or the everyday, FatBoy’s latest issue touches on the complexity of how cuisine and culture interact. For Christopher and the rest of the FatBoy team, one particular issue they wanted to confront was the Hong Kong protests, as it’s been difficult for many in the team to see what’s been going on there. “We weren’t going to document Hong Kong at first,” says Christopher, “but the protests felt so powerful it would have been disingenuous not to react.”

The founder continues on what he hopes readers can distil from the recently published issue: “Hopefully people can understand just how much of a struggle it is for Hong Kongers to make the decision to continue to protest. People are risking theirs and their family’s lives in a place that’s (historically) been seen as stable and maybe even self-assured.” As a result, FatBoy shows both the beauty and struggle in the imagery. It was a lot for the team to be surrounded by every day, but with collaborative, healthy discussions occurring as a consequence, FatBoy has only become more refined and more considered.

GalleryFatBoy Issue 3


FatBoy Issue 3: White Cut Chicken (Photography by Emily Leonard)


FatBoy Issue 3: Cheung Fun (Photography by Emily Leonard)


FatBoy Issue 3: Cheung Fun (Photography by Emily Leonard)


FatBoy Issue 3: Steamed Fish (Photography by Emily Leonard)


FatBoy Issue 3: Causewaybay Protest (Photography by Xavier Manhing)


FatBoy Issue 3: Sham Shui Po (Photography by Xavier Manhing)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.


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