Member Spotlight: Resiliency and Creativity of Local Restaurants Inspires Savour Calgary
Date: 29th July 2021
By Sarah Moore
Savour Calgary was almost a pandemic business; their first issue came out in November/December 2019, continuing the work of City Palate after it stopped publishing.
Editor Camie Leard says Savour Calgary was just hitting its stride when COVID-19 hit. Like the local restaurants and people it covers, the magazine had to adapt to a rapidly changing food industry.
“Especially since the pandemic, the food community has become so creative in how to get their products into people’s hands,” says Leard. “It’s been really inspiring, so it fortified our commitment to making sure we’re doing everything we can to elevate local businesses.”
She says restaurants have become entrepreneurial and spontaneous, shifting quickly to make their products available. Efforts like pop-ups have become a big thing for both newer businesses like Respect the Technique, which sold Japanese street food, and established brands, like UNA Pizza + Wine, selling limited donuts once a week.
“I think it’s something that’s going to endure, this sort of ”guerrilla” approach to food service,'” says Leard.
Savour Calgary, published every two months, has also changed aspects of its approach. For instance, in its May/June 2020 issue, it included a directory of restaurants that were open for delivery and takeout.
“That was something that we never imagined that we would do, because that’s what the Internet is for,” says Leard. But the magazine offered a more curated approach, offering readers a peek into the out-of-the-ordinary options.
“We’re all familiar with Chinese food and pizza when it comes to takeout, but the variety and quality that has become available may surprise some,” says Leard. “And our readership really responded.” So much so, that Savour Calgary has taken its curated directory online.
With restrictions to in-person dining, she says finding stories has been more challenging. Mining social media, visiting markets and good old fashioned asking your foodie friends are some of the workarounds the Savour Calgary team has used.
With each lockdown in Calgary, restaurants have adapted, whether it’s Modern Steak, which typically relies on an in-person dining experience, shifting to Modern Burgers, or restaurants opening patios earlier than in previous years or in locations where they may not have existed before.
It’s a mindset of resiliency that extends to the magazine.
“Like the people we feature in our pages, we have also had to look at different ways of doing things and it’s allowed us to really focus and be supportive of the local food community,” says Leard.
What was the first magazine you fell in love with?
My grandma got me a subscription to Highlights when I was a kid, and I waited eagerly for that, for sure.
What is your favourite thing about working in magazines?
I’m a nerd when it comes to language. The technicality of the language end of things, I dig that completely. And then on the flip side of that, being able to talk to people about the things that they’re passionate about is really fun.
How would you describe Alberta’s magazine industry, in a couple of words?
Who is someone whose work you especially admire?
I think Käthe Lemon at Avenue does a really great job of reading the business, seeing what the landscape is and making adjustments based on what’s happening. I know it’s been a real rollercoaster but she still manages to put out a great product every time.
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
Most of all, that we’re all vaccinated and able to go out and eat together again. I’m also really looking forward to the fall harvest issue. I love doing that one just because we get to talk farms and we get to bring in the work people have done all summer and make delicious things out of it.