Cooking Show Finds Success As Magazine

Gordon Ramsay, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray-well-known figures who attained their fame through popular cooking shows. From shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” to “Iron Chef,” we love watching these skilled chefs practicing their art, either watching purely for entertainment’s sake or with the intent to absorb some of their talent for our own use.

But what about those individuals who aren’t professional chefs but prepare delicious meals for their friends and families on a daily basis? What about dishes passed down from generation to generation, containing within them cultural and familial stories yet often lacking written recipes?

In the midst of cooking shows highlighting the talents of celebrity chefs or playing into our interest in highly-competitive reality shows, Real Food Real Kitchens emerged in the market, offering viewers a peek into the kitchens of everyday people who haven’t dedicated their careers to the art of cooking but still practice it skillfully. The program features a different person each episode who teaches the audience how to prepare a dish that’s particularly close to their heart, all while giving its story and background. The brand has since been turned into a magazine bearing the same name, a natural extension from the TV series.

Craig Chapman, the founder of Real Food Real Kitchens, shared his inspiration for the brand. “Food and family have a deep emotional connection to most people, and during the creation of the series a lot of people would say, ‘I miss most my mom’s (insert dish here). She never wrote down the recipe and no one can make it like she does,'” Chapman explains. “I wanted to give people an outlet to share those stories and preserve these dishes before it was too late.”

For Chapman, turning the TV series into a magazine was a natural transition. Having a love for magazines that began with the “punk rock zine” he started in high school and published for 10 years, it seems only fitting that he turned Real Food Real Kitchens into a magazine. “When I came up with the idea for Real Food Real Kitchens, in the back of my mind I knew that there was room for a magazine within that brand,” he admits. “So a couple years after launching the TV series we put out a magazine.”

Though Chapman describes the decision to turn the show into a magazine as an “easy one,” limited time and resources posed potential obstacles. “I knew I needed a publishing partner,” Chapman explains. “The TV show and website alone take up most of my time.”

Chapman ended up making a deal with The Media Source, a division of Source Interlink, describing the arrangement as a “lucky” one. “Real Food Real Kitchens provided the content and photography, and The Media Source designed the magazine, printed it and distributed it.”

These efforts resulted in the production of the first issue of the magazine that went out this year. Source Interlink handled the distribution, getting the magazine into “Walmarts, Targets, Barnes & Nobles, major chain grocery stores, etc. all over the country the day it was released,” Chapman shares.

Chapman is incredibly proud of the first issue, and fans of the show seem to mirror his enthusiasm. “Fans of the show LOVED the magazine,” Chapman gushes. “From the day it was released even until now we have people writing in, sharing their own personal stories and recipes, asking for subscriptions (we don’t have subscriptions yet), wanting to be on the TV show… It gives room for a lot of reader interaction, reader submitted content and continues the idea of featuring real families, food and the culture and stories behind them.”

Because of the positive response from fans, Chapman plans to turn it into “a full-fledged, regularly published magazine in 2014.”

Currently, Real Food Real Kitchens does not offer subscriptions, even though Chapman says “hundreds” of people have asked how they could subscribe. Chapman explains that he wants to establish the frequency of the magazine before offering subscriptions.

Chapman’s success story shows how reaching out to an audience on multiple platforms can serve to strengthen a brand. It has proven to be a smart business strategy for Chapman, helping him build up Real Food Real Kitchens’ audience and reach more people than the TV show alone was doing. He explains how the show and magazine have complemented one another, saying, “The magazine was a perfect extension of the brand and has brought in a bigger audience for the TV series and vice versa. Our viewers were thrilled to know we had launched a magazine and went out to scoop up copies.”